Two years ago, he started distance running to stay in shape for baseball. Five days ago, he finished eighth in the country in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in San Antonio.
Anthony Ocegueda, a 14-year-old freshman at Reed, finished the national meet (four kilometers) for the 13-14 age group in a time of 13:19.37, 20 seconds behind the winner. He was named an All-American for finishing in the top 25.
“I think I should have done better but it still feels pretty great,” Ocegueda said.
He qualified for the Junior Olympics by finishing second in qualifying races in Folsom, Calif. (Nov. 24, 12:36.8) and Fresno (Dec. 1, 13:19.97).
Between travel expenses, food and lodging, Ocegueda’s father, Martin, estimates the family spent $3,000 to support their son, who races for the Silver State Striders (a local club team) when not racing in Raider Gold. A number of relatives chipped in to help cover the expenses but because the Reed freshman is an amateur (not sponsored), all remaining expenses came out of the Ocegueda’s pockets.
“It’s all been worth it. It does cost money but on the other hand, it does leave a memory that he is going to carry for a lifetime,” Martin said.
Ocegueda is not the first track star from Reed to compete on a national scale. Gabby Williams, a senior high jumper, finished fifth in the 2012 Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. as a 15-year-old.
Despite his eighth-place finish Saturday, Ocegueda said “as of now” he is not thinking about competing on a national scale. All of his attention is focused on the upcoming track season and fighting for a state championship over the next four years. He will compete in the 800 meters, the 1600m and the 3200m this spring for the RHS track team.
He said he is going to “take a little break” from the Silver State Striders over the next couple months to focus on his efforts at Reed.
“His goals are to eventually to win the state title. That’s what his ultimate goal is,” Martin said. “He really wants to be state champion both on the track and in cross country.”
This fall, Ocegueda finished fourth in the North Region Cross Country Meet and 19th in the state race (the highest freshman finisher).
Ocegueda said he remains happy with his decision two years ago to start long-distance running to condition for baseball and has since hung up the baseball cleats. Although, he still watches baseball when it’s on television – he is a San Diego Padres fan.
“Mom and dad, we are all really proud of him. There is a big running community here in Reno and all the older runners are really excited about how he is doing and developing,” Martin said. “That really gives him more of an incentive to train harder and keep going forward.”