Alex Plasencia – MV Runners

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Alex Plasencia – MV Runners

Jackie Gaworski, staff reporter

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Alex Plasencia, 12, joined cross country for one reason only: He wanted to outrun his older brother.

“I was always motivated by my brother growing up, and we were extremely competitive with each other. We would play about every sport available and pushed each other to be better,” he said.

While Plasencia grew up in a family of runners, he didn’t start running as an actual sport until middle school. “[Before then], I mainly ran in soccer and football,” said Plasencia. “My dad is the Director of the Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field at the [University of Minnesota], so I have been around running my entire life.”

Plasencia’s running talent became evident in his freshman year, when he finished ninth at Conference. Since then, he has gradually shaved over a minute off his 5k time. He believes his improvement is due to his strong drive to succeed. “My times have improved, and my work ethic has as well,” he said. “ [In addition,] I started stretching more regularly, which has also helped.”

Now captain of the cross country team, Plasencia loves being a role model for the younger athletes. “My favorite part of being captain is being looked upon as a leader and being able to show the freshmen what it means to be dedicated,” said Plasencia.

His dedication has been on full display this season. He placed in the top five at multiple meets, qualified for State for the third year running, and recently ran a personal best of 16:07 in the 5k.

However, Plasencia is still looking to improve before the season ends. “I am pleased with my performance. However, I was one second away from getting second place at our conference meet, so it would have been nice to have had a better kick at the finish and beaten some more guys,” he said.

Plasencia runs with fellow team members Harrison Hirsch, 12, Grant Delaune, 12, and Tim Pease, 11 (left to right)

Plasencia runs with fellow team members Harrison Hirsch, 12, Grant Delaune, 12, and Tim Pease, 11 (left to right)

With the State tournament coming up next week, Plasencia has two final goals he hopes to achieve before closing out his last cross country season. “My goal is to get under 16 minutes,” he said. “I [also] want to finish top 20 at the State meet.”

Mostly what Plasencia will both miss and take away from his sport is his relationship with his team. “Long runs can get a little boring, so we usually have interesting conversations or heated debates, which can make time fly,” said Plasencia. “I enjoy the thrill of competition, but, more than anything, the best thing about cross country is creating bonds with teammates as we work hard together.”

 

This article is part of a pair of Issue 3 sports features. Read about the other featured cross country runner, Morgan Dahl, here.

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