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Driven to Succeed
Ceres High's Alejandro Garcia enjoyed a successful junior season that culminated with an appearance in the 2008 CIF State Cross Country Championships last week.

"I'm proud of myself that I was able to accomplish that," he said. "I got to where I am because of my dedication and coaching. I'm grateful she (Natalie Alvarez) coached me this year. She knows what it's like to be a runner. She went through all the pain and problems."

Garcia finished in 77th place in a field of 201 at the Division III varsity boys state competition Saturday morning at Fresno's Woodward Park. He completed the three-mile course in a personal-best 16 minutes, 29 seconds. He avenged Sac-Joaquin Section losses to Sonora's John Glick and El Camino's Chris Kigar.

"I'm pleased with how I did," Alejandro said. "It was exciting and fun to compete against the best. It was a challenging course. My body is exhausted right now. I'm glad I get to rest."

Garcia fulfilled his personal goal for the season, becoming the first Bulldog runner to advance to state in a decade.

He placed fifth in the section, third at sub-sections and second in league.

Alejandro also took first at the Stanislaus County Invitational, and a pair of Valley Oak League cluster meets.

He won section and sub-section titles at the sophomore level in 2007.

"This year was experience," Garcia said. "I got a good feel of every single course and race. Next year, I will run with more confidence."

Alejandro will start training for the track and field season in three weeks.

He'll compete in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 4x400 relay this spring. Garcia has his sights set on a state berth.

"That's another hope," he said.