Michael Mrgudic has been promoted to head coach of Central Valley High School’s cross country program.
“I envisioned myself coaching someday,” said Mrgudic, 26. “I’ve had so many great coaches. I observed and learned from them.”
Mrgudic, a former standout runner at Stanislaus State and Granada Hills Charter High School, assisted Veronica Moreno at Central Valley last season.
She stepped down to spend more time with her family.
“I have high aspirations,” Mrgudic said. “I’m competitive. I want to win. But I have to be patient. It’s a process. It takes time to build a top program.”
“I’m more easy-going than other coaches,” he added. “Running is hard enough as it is. I don’t want to add more stress.”
Central Valley’s varsity boys and girls teams had just a combined nine athletes this past school year due to public safety concerns related to coronavirus pandemic among other reasons.
The 2020 season was supposed to start in the fall, but was moved to the spring due to COVID-19.
“It feels like I’m building from the ground up,” Mrgudic said. “Our team is so young. We want to get better every day. I know what the kids are going through because I’m still training and competing. I believe in leading by example. I go on runs with them. I do advise the kids to make healthy choices—eat lots of fruits and veggies—but I don’t push it on them.”
Central Valley’s boys program returns seven runners from last season’s team, including Roberto Rosales (Sr.), Alexander Contreras Ontiveros (Sr.), Jeremy Alvarez (Sr.), Daniel Soares (Sr.), Kevin Lee (Sr.), Armando Guajardo (Jr.) and Alfredo Garcia (So.).
Jonathan Macias (Fr.) is the Hawks’ top newcomer.
Alejandro Gonzalez and Jesse Vazquez were lost to graduation.
Central Valley’s girls program returns two runners from a year ago, including Ashley Anaya (Sr.) and Claudia Aguilar (Jr.).
Adriana Huaracha graduated.
“Ashley really loves the sport,” Mrgudic said. “She’s fitter than ever. She’s a leader. She’s a great influence for the new girls.”
The Hawks’ top newcomers are Mariana Campos (Fr.), Keilany Torres (Fr.), Yahaira Torres (Fr.) and Milianna Rios (Fr.).
“The sky’s the limit for them. If they continue to progress, we could finish in the top three as a team in league in the next few years.”Coach Michael Mrgudic
“The sky’s the limit for them,” Mrgudic said. “If they continue to progress, we could finish in the top three as a team in league in the next few years.”
Central Valley’s Central California Conference regular-season schedule consists of three cluster meets.
The Hawks will race against Patterson, Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley and El Capitan.
Central Valley competed in the Western Athletic Conference South Division for just one season last year. The WAC was split into two divisions because of safety concerns related to COVID-19.
“The CCC is very elite,” Mrgudic said. “It’s faster and deeper. You have to step up your game to compete in this league.”
Mrgudic graduated from Stanislaus State and Granada Hills Charter High School in 2018 and 2013, respectively. He’s a substitute teacher at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High in Ceres.
Mrgudic earned six varsity letters in high school, including three in cross country and track and field.
He qualified for the CIF State Track & Field Championships in the 1,600 during his senior year.
Mrgudic competed in both sports at the college level.
He earned all-region and all-conference honors in track and field.
Mrgudic broke the 41-year-old school record in the 5,000-meter run while competing at the 2018 Kim Duyst Invitational.
Mrgudic is an active member of the Hoka Aggies Running Club.
He won the Santa Rosa Half-Marathon this past month.
“Running put me on a path to better myself,” Mrgudic said. “It definitely changed my life in a positive way. The biggest thing it’s taught me is to value healthy mind, body and spirit. Hopefully, my experience can translate to the kids learning more about cross country and going as far as they want in the sport.”