Valdez heads to NCAA Regionals

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The Runner Staff


For CSU Bakersfield’s junior Angel Valdez, cross-country was never a sport she took seriously growing up.

 However, by following in her mother’s footsteps, the Bakersfield native finds herself as the first CSUB cross-country runner in the program’s 39-year history to qualify for the NCAA Division I West Regionals.

“I ran track as a kid, but it was a joke,” said Valdez. “I did sprinting and I wasn’t very good at it.”

 Her first love was soccer, but soccer was not the sport she was growing in. 

“I started falling out of love for soccer,” said Valdez. “I started doing really good in running my freshman and sophomore year [at East Bakersfield High School] and that’s where the shift began.”

Junior Angel Valdez became the first cross-country runner to qualify for the NCAA West Regionals in the program's 39-year history on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the WAC Championships. Photo courtesy of
Junior Angel Valdez became the first cross-country runner to qualify for the NCAA West Regionals in the program’s 39-year history on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the WAC Championships.
Photo courtesy of

Valdez takes a lot of inspiration from her mother, Diana Valdez, and even follows in her mother’s footsteps. 

Her mother is a teacher and cross-country coach at Eissler Elementary School and she always knew that Angel Valdez had the ability to be a good runner.

“[My mom] was the one that told me to do long distance running since I was seven,” said Valdez. “She would tell me every year and I never would listen.”

 Valdez said it is rewarding to be able to represent Bakersfield at the Regionals. 

“It just makes me a little more proud of what I’m doing because not only am I running for my school but I’m really representing Bakersfield,” she said. “I was born and raised here… It’s awesome wearing Bakersfield on my back.” 

Valdez’s road to qualifying for the Regionals really started for her at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Claremont, California Oct. 15.

Valdez was trailing the leading runner by a significant distance, when she took a wrong turn and ended up going off the course.

But that mistake did not stop her from breaking a school record.

With some help from other CSUB cross-country runners guiding her to the right direction, Valdez found her stride and finished in third place out 140 runners.   

“For a lot of people that would have messed with them, but for Angel that was like I got this,” said Director of Cross-Country Marcia Mansur-Wentworth. 

Valdez also broke CSUB’s 6K record in that race with a time of 22 minutes and 20.1 seconds. 

She broke the old record of 22:22, which was set by Casey Glassey seven years ago. 

Since that race, she has also received more honors. 

She earned Western Athletic Conference Female Cross-Country Runner of the Week, and this past Saturday, Oct. 29 she earned All-WAC Honors at the WAC Championships thanks to an 11th place finish in the 5K race with a time of 18:40.40.  

Both awards were the first time a CSUB cross-country runner had ever earned them.

Thanks to her 11th place finish she was able to qualify to the Regionals.

The NCAA Division I West Regionals are scheduled for Nov. 11 in Sacramento at 11 a.m. 

“I was just really proud of myself because every year it’s a process, so to finally get to where I wanted to be, as a junior is really fulfilling,” said Valdez. 

Valdez said she knew she qualified because she stayed with the front pack and saw that there weren’t a lot of runners in front of her.

She said being CSUB’s first cross-country runner feels unreal to her.

“My freshman year I didn’t think about any of this, and in my sophomore year is when I realized I had a lot more potential than I knew. I started pushing myself a lot harder,” she said.

That mentality has now put her in an unprecedented position for a CSUB cross-country runner, but she is already setting her sights on improving her time. 

She said she wants to break the 6K record at Regionals.

“I see her leaving here as the most decorated female distance runner in program history,” said Mansur-Wentworth.