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Bulldog runner succeeds
Alejandro Garcia's tireless work ethic produced desired results.

The Ceres High varsity boys distance runner qualified for the CIF State Cross Country Meet for the second straight year and posted a 3-0 record at Valley Oak League competitions this season.

"I didn't achieve my third goal," said Garcia, who fell short in his quest for a top-10 finish at state. "But two out of three is better than none."

Alejandro took 34th, 43 places higher than last year, in the 2009 Division III state final Saturday morning in Fresno. Garcia completed Woodward Park's 3.1-mile course in a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 3 seconds.

"I could have done way better," he said.

Alejandro was the top finisher among VOL competitors.

He outdistanced Sierra's John Bowers (123rd, 16:58) and Sonora's Nicholas Klein (125th, 16:59).

"They pushed me in the beginning," he said. "I put a gap between us once we got to the third mile."

Garcia should have placed higher but was slowed by the cold weather.

"I'm going over the race in my head and I'm starting to feel like I really didn't push myself," he said. "I was scared my arms were going to lock up because it was cold. I didn't want to race stiff. I should have worn gloves and sleeves."

Alejandro took up cross country in 2007.

He won section and sub-section titles at the sophomore level during his first year.

Garcia made a name for himself during his final two seasons by advancing to state and winning a VOL title.

He'll be remembered as one of the school's all-time greatest distance runners.

"It feels pretty good," Garcia said. "I accomplished something I was going for. The only reason I got where I am is because of my dedication and competitiveness. I put more dedication into running this year. I took everything more serious. I didn't have time to hang out with friends. That (cross country) was my life."