Ben Saldana's left foot started hurting two weeks into the 2012 season.
The Central Valley High School varsity cross country standout continued to train and compete despite the discomfort.
Relegated to crutches late in the year, Saldana missed the Western Athletic Conference championships.
"I just kept pushing myself and it got worse," he said. "I was on crutches. It was hard for me to get around. I felt like I let my team down. It's not an issue right now."
New to the sport of cross country as a sophomore, Saldana didn't purchase appropriate footwear.
"I was training in the wrong shoes," he said. "I was wearing flats a lot. There was no cushion. I learned from my experience. I got better shoes with more cushioning."
Ben will be striving for a top-eight finish at the WAC finals this season. He wants to earn all-conference honors.
"That's one of my goals," said Saldana, who also has a strong desire to advance past Divisionals. "It's a realistic goal if I train hard. I consider myself a leader. I'm guiding the other guys. I'm vocal. I'm a tell-you-up-front kind of person. I like being a part of the team."
Ben's summer training consisted of running between five to seven miles a day.
Saldana will log 30-40 miles a week at practice during the season.
Ben loves challenging himself.
"It's a personal thing for me," Saldana said when asked what he enjoyed most about cross country. "You set goals, accomplish them and feel good about yourself. I have high expectations."