Abel Teffra is a senior at Central High School in Fresno, California. The accomplished distance runner, who finished fourth at the CIF Division 3 Cross Country Championships in 2019, will continue his career at Georgetown University. He owns personal best times of 1:56.34 in the 800m, 4:14.80 in the 1,600m, 9:32.25 in the 3,200m and 15:33.20 in the 5K in cross country. Here, he writes about how he found the sport and why a passion developed from there.
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Dear High School Running,
I am writing this earlier than I thought I would. But while the coronavirus may have taken my senior year away, it has also given me the opportunity to deeply reflect on my high school career, the people in it and the lessons I have learned.
To start, I didn't take running seriously until my junior year in high school, when coach Johnny Sanchez came into my life and shared some of his collegiate experiences competing for Chico State. Ever since my first race in the seventh grade, I always was curious about what it was like competing on the next level. Every time we had conversations about college, I was so curious about learning more and amazed at what the next level is like.
Learning more about running and the next level made me notice how much discipline and hard work needs to be put into the sport. At the time, I believed that I wouldn't be able to compete at such a high level -- the sophomore season before, I hadn't yet broken two minutes for 800 meters or 4:30 in the 1,600m. But once I started taking it seriously and started putting effort into training, the results started to show. I made appearances at the CIF State Cross Country and Track and Field Championships in two straight seasons. And the one performance I was most excited about was my track season, as I ended with a solid mile time.
My belief is that, with the help of Coach Sanchez, my attitude changed towards the sport and my dream of collegiate athletics was becoming an option. It also made me optimistic for my senior year since I knew just what it would take to improve.
Some of my best friends have come from running cross country and track. These guys are what make the sport fun and practice enjoyable. We have made so many memories and it's sad we can't make more to finish out our careers. But I'm very thankful for them, because they are the ones who supported and encouraged me the most. I'm going to miss all of our car rides to practice, listening to loud music, racing each other at practice, and of course our prank wars.
Running has taught me many lessons. The main ones have been hard work, consistency and dedication. Early morning workouts and runs instilled dedication. Completing very tough workouts taught me that I was ready for hard work. Consistently training week after week showed me consistency. And without any of those reminders, I don't think I could've gotten here where I am today. If you told me a year ago that I was going to compete at Georgetown University, I wouldn't have believed you.
While I don't like to be negative, or live in a space of negative thoughts, I can't help but be upset that my senior year was canceled. I don't have the opportunity to show my friends, family, or coaches what I was capable of doing this track season. So I've realized this little bump in the road is extra time to better ourselves as humans and athletes. I've been re-watching my races to improve racing strategies. I've also been training alone and I believe it'll make me mentally stronger since there is no one watching.
At some point, all of this will be over and we'll be able to resume our lives. And it will be what we do in this time that will separate us from the rest. There is always a way to get better if you really want to. I'll always remember to stay positive, I'll continue to work hard and I'll remember that when things get dark, your spirit will be the light.
CONTRIBUTE TO THIS SERIES
For whatever your passion, be it running, jumping, throwing, hurdling, et cetera, if you are a track and field and/or cross country athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series, please email@example.com.