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Star-Bulletin Sports


Wednesday, October 17, 2001


[ CROSS COUNTRY ]




FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Christal Cuadra takes off on a 100-meter sprint during practice.
Cuadra hopes the sprints will help her with her finishing kick
so she can win a state cross country championship for her
dad next month.



Like father,
like ... daughter

Christal Cuadra of the Pac-Five
cross country team sets her sights
on winning the states -- and giving
the medal to her dad


By Tim Crouse
tcrouse@starbulletin.com

CHRISTAL Cuadra has been winning races for the Pac-Five girls cross country team for more than two years now. And every time she wins, her medal goes straight to her dad, Greg -- who happens to be the Pac-Five cross country coach.

Map

"Every time I win a race, I dedicate it to my father because he could never win a race and I felt bad. After I finish first, I give my medal straight to him."

Greg Cuadra, 46, has been running for more than 30 years, and in recent years, he took up the challenges of 5K races, half-marathons and marathons. But he wasn't able to break through and win.

"For some reason or another, it was always second or third," he said. "I felt I had reached a plateau, so I wanted to do something else."

He turned to ultra marathons -- 100-mile races. But a knee injury has forced him to take a break from competitive running.

And that has given Christal, a senior at Maryknoll, an idea of what she wants to focus on in college.

"I want to be a physical therapist, mainly because my dad injured his knee doing the one thing he loves the most, which is running, so I kind of want to be a physical therapist in rehabilitation so I can learn how I can help my dad run again," she said.

Greg has gone through several surgeries and is working his way back.

"I run with him on Sundays, four miles, and we'll go easy," Christal said.

With competitive running out of the question for now, Greg is focusing on coaching, which he took up when Christal joined the team her freshman year.

Christal was searching for a sport to participate in her freshman year and her dad suggested she try out for cross country.

"He said, 'Why don't you go out for cross country and we'll do it together.' "

Greg kept showing up with Christal at practices and the head coach asked him if he wanted to start coaching.

Christal was hooked on running from the start.

"The competitiveness really showed in me from day one. In my freshman year, I was last. I can remember it took me 17 or 18 minutes to do two miles."

After that first year, she told her dad she wasn't going to let that happen again.

"I worked so hard. It didn't happen over night, but I believe all this hard work will pay off."

Her payoff this year has been her results in meets.

Cuadra ran away with last weekend's Punahou Invitational, winning the race in 11 minutes, 43 seconds. The second-place finisher, Tia Ferguson of Seabury Hall, was 38 seconds behind.

Cuadra and Pac-Five have two meets left before the ILH Championships on Nov. 3 -- at Kamehameha this Saturday and at Mid-Pacific, where they often practice, on Oct. 27.

The state championships are Nov. 10 on Kauai -- and Cuadra has high expectations.

"My goal is to go out there and win one for (Dad) and dedicate it to him," she said.

Cuadra won the ILH championship last year and was in the mix at the state finals before running out of gas near the finish line. She placed fourth, six seconds behind teammate Annie Kawasaki, who is now attending Portland State.

She vows to take it one step further this year.

"I'm going to win this year. Previous years I didn't want to feel the pain of the run so I'd be a conservative runner and that's why I would never finish first. But this year, it's all out and I ain't looking back."

She does 100-meter sprint drills in practice, hoping it will put her over the top in the state finals.

"I've lost (state championship cross country and track and field races) two years in a row in the last 100 meters so I'm really practicing my last 100 meters because I'm not going to lose again," Cuadra said. "I'm really working on my finish kick."

Cuadra is hoping running can get her through college, and she has already received scholarship offers from several schools, including San Diego State. She is also thinking forward to 2004 -- with hopes of competing in the Olympics.

But for now, she still has a state championship medal to put around her dad's neck.



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