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Garcia has memorable first season with MJC
When Alejandro Garcia returned home from the 2010 California Community College Athletic Association Cross Country State Championships on Nov. 20, he looked at his seventh-place medal and became aggravated.

The 2010 Ceres High graduate and Modesto Junior College freshman fell short of his goal of a top-three finish at Fresno's Woodward Park.

"I couldn't stay home and think about how I did," Garcia said. "I had to go run. It (running 12 miles) was a way to cope with my frustration."

Alejandro earned all-state honors for his Top-14 finish in Fresno.

He completed the four-mile course in 20 minutes, 29 seconds.

He bested 210 other competitors.

"Every runner has a bad day," said Garcia, his own biggest critic. "Unfortunately for me, mine was at state. After the guys opened the gap from me, I broke down mentally. I let it get to me. My body was sluggish. It's probably because my workouts were too easy. My last hard workout was 10 days before state. That was too much rest. It makes me mad looking at it (seventh-place medal). I know I could have done better. I'm a competitive person. I'm not satisfied."

Alejandro accomplished a lot during his first season with the Pirates.

He qualified for state, and won NorCal (20:29) and Big 8 Conference (19:42) titles.

Alejandro placed first at the Pirate (19:55) and Crystal Springs (21:22) meets.

He also finished third at the Fresno Invitational (21:01).

"I was winning race after race and getting faster and faster," said Garcia, who climbed as high as No. 3 in the state rankings during the season. "I'm not surprised I reached this level. It's satisfying to see my effort and time has been worthwhile. It feels good people want to come after me. Before, I wasn't that guy. That pushes me to keep improving so they don't catch up to me."

Alejandro earned the respect of his Modesto Junior College coach and teammates during the course of the season.

"We've had some good runners," Pirates coach Demitrius Snaer said. "He's definitely in the conversation as one of the best ever. I'm not really surprised. He's a hard worker. He listens and does what's asked of him. As soon as he graduated from high school, he started working with our team. I definitely think he can be a Division-I athlete."

Garcia and the Pirates logged 70 to 80 miles per week while training in Keyes, Modesto and Ripon.

"Those guys (Lucas Velasquez and Roberto Rosas) pushed me at practice," Alejandro said. "They were a big help."

When asked if Garcia would be inducted into the Modesto Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame in the future, Snaer said: "I don't see that being out of the range at all. The sky's the limit. He should be one of the favorites to win state next year."

Alejandro wants to be remembered as one of the Pirates' greatest distance runners.

He's willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal.

"I compare running to life," said Garcia, who made history in the fall of 2009 when he became the first two-time state-meet qualifier in Ceres High boys cross country history. "There have been times when my bodies been exhausted. I'm not going to quit no matter what."