Valdez races toward future beyond CSUB


Angel Valdez, runs near the Student Recreation Center on Sept. 21. Valdez was named Western Athletic Conference Women’s Cross-Country Athlete of The Week for Sept. 4-10. Photo by Simer Khurana/The Runner

Vincent Perez

Assisant Sports Editor

Angel Valdez, 21, only began running competitively at 15. In the past two seasons, the CSU Bakersfield senior has solidified herself as the No. 1 runner on the women’s cross-country team.

Valdez, a graduate of East Bakersfield High School, most recently broke her own time in the 5-kilometer race for CSUB. Her time, 18:18.2 at the Fresno Invitational Sept. 2, surpassed her previous record time, 18:40.4 at last season’s Western Athletic Conference Championships.

Valdez currently holds the third-best time ever in the 5k at CSUB and still strives for more.

“I’ve had a dream where I ran 17:52,” said Valdez. “I’ve met my goals and surpassed them so I have to make new ones. I want to break 18 minutes in the 5k.”

Valdez is expected to break the 18-minute mark this season, according to Director of Track & Field and Cross-Country Marcia Mansur-Wentworth.

Family keeps Valdez moving, especially her sibling.

Her brother, Moses, inspires Valdez. Moses was on the track and field team at East High School, so she joined. Moses later joined the Navy and returned to Bakersfield recently.

“My brother helps me keep my pace. He’s been back for two years and he wants to run the Bakersfield marathon.”

Moses did not run competitively after high school, but the two run together to this day. Valdez has other aspirations than running.

Valdez, a mathematics major, said she wants to teach high school math and coach cross country, leading to coach collegiate cross country. Valdez will receive her teaching credential next year.

Since Valdez’s sophomore year at CSUB in 2015, she has led the women’s cross-country team in times and in leadership.

Mansur-Wentworth is grateful for Valdez.

“Angel has become one of the best leaders I’ve had in my 20 years of coaching,” said Mansur-Wentworth. “She will be one of those incredible, special people because I’ve seen how hard she works.”

Mansur-Wentworth added that Valdez has done a great job managing to keep everything together with so much on her plate. She also praised her for her dependability and leadership.

“She has tremendous enthusiasm. The other women respect and admire her. They want to do it too, because she came in with fairly modest credentials for a Division I athlete and made herself competitive over the last two years.”

Angel Valdez plans to be a mathematics teacher upon her graduation from CSUB.
Photo by Simer Khurana

Valdez has kept a busy schedule and still succeeds academically.

This past summer, Valdez married Joshua Christiansen. She holds a 3.89 GPA. Valdez’s time on the cross-country team will end this year.

“I’ve grown a lot. Academically, athletically and personally because of the opportunities I got here,” said Valdez.

Valdez was overcome with emotion and was moved to tears when she explained what she’ll miss most.

“I can’t even think about leaving. Being part of a team and competing; I love competing,” said Valdez. “I’ll miss being part of a team, being a leader and mentoring my teammates.”

Recruiting Valdez was no easy task for Mansur-Wentworth. She tried numerous times in 2014 to reach Valdez but was not able to due to the changing of athletic directors at East High School.

Valdez had an epiphany minutes after her high school graduation.

“I literally joined the team on a whim. I just graduated high school. I had coach’s [Mansur-Wentworth] number in my phone but I hadn’t called her yet. I hadn’t decided.”

A few minutes later, Valdez made that call and told Mansur-Wentworth that she wanted to run for CSUB.

Valdez originally planned to attend Bakersfield College and transfer elsewhere. A late registration changed that and Valdez became an integral part of CSUB athletics.

“Everything kind of fell into place. It was meant for me to be here,” said Valdez. “Thank God, I made that call.”

Her teammates are thankful she did, as well.

Redshirt-senior teammate and best friend, Ariana Mariscal, 22, said, “She has an amazing attitude and she spreads that to everyone else.”

Mariscal said that Valdez keeps her teammates accountable for their actions and that if they’re working hard one day, then not the next, Valdez will talk to them privately. Selflessness is key in cross-country and Mariscal explained Valdez’s intentions.

“She’s out here for herself and for the team,” said Mariscal. “This is a team setting and something that she cares about.”

Both seniors, Mariscal and Valdez’s time together will end at CSUB this season.

Valdez said, “I’m going to miss every aspect. Waking up early in the morning and arriving together, training. We’re doing this together and we’re going through pain and obstacles. I’m going to miss that.”

But, Mariscal is not the only teammate Valdez has influenced.

Paradise Pelzer, 19, a sophomore, explained how she will miss talking to her as often as she did.

“She’s done so much to keep me motivated,” said Pelzer. “It’s hard changing coach to coach, from high school to college. She took me under and helped me where I needed to be. She’s keeping me honest.”

Valdez and the CSUB women’s cross-country team will compete next at The Mustang Challenge in Santa Clarita, California, Sept. 30 and The Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara, California, Oct. 14. The WAC Championships are Oct. 28, in Englewood, Colorado.


Angel Valdez, runs near the Student Recreation Center on Sept. 21. Valdez was named Western Athletic Conference Women’s Cross-Country Athlete of The Week for Sept. 4-10.
Photo by Simer Khurana/The Runner