Pre-Race Perspective: Diego Estrada
by Kevin Mangan
On my run along Lake Geneva this afternoon in Lausanne I had the good fortune of running with former Northern Arizona star and new Asics pro runner Diego Estrada. I crossed the street from Parc Olympique to the waterfront bike path and he recognized my Crystal Springs Cross Country Course t-shirt and asked me where I'm from. We both thought it was a cool coincidence that two Central Coast Section (or as we call it simply "CCS") runners ran into each other in Lausanne. Personally I was honored to run with such an accomplished runner who grew up one county over from me, very inspiring.
We exchanged some small talk, how are UW and NAU's men's teams looking this year, how is he feeling about the race tomorrow(excited), a shared respect for his coach, the incomparable Dr. Joe Vigil... and then that was the end of his run. I wished him good luck and he did strides and I went off on the rest of my run. (Running along the bike paths and trails along the waterfront is stunning. A great run it was.)
I can remember the first time I heard about him was at the 2008 CCS Top 8 Meet at Los Gatos High. The meet is the first time in the season all the best CCS athletes all compete against each other. Other than CCS Finals and State it is the most competitive meet a kid from the Western Bay Area region will run in all season. But the top seed in the 3200 wasn't there. I remember thinking, who is this Diego Estrada guy from Alisal? Why isn't he at this meet? At that time that was the biggest meet I had run in (I ran the frosh-soph 3200) and I was shocked the best guy wasn't there. It was sort of a mystery to me. By the time CCS Finals rolled around I had long since been a spectator, but I went to watch the meet with my Dad. I can still remember how comfortable Diego looked holding an early on Mohamed Abdalla of Willow Glen, who was held as almost unbeatable by my high school teammates. I thought Diego would get eaten up after about five laps, but he just held his lead and looked smooth the whole race and won the race in 9:06.51. He would later go on to get fourth at the California state meet in a race where everyone was only watching German Fernandez en route to his legendary 4:00-8:34 double.
Once he got to NAU he then proceeded to get even better and really reaped the benefits of altitude to have an illustrious career as a Lumberjack. Now that he is a pro, it was definitely nice to see that he hasn't forgot his roots. When I left him, I told him to make CCS proud. He already has.
Watch him tomorrow as he goes for a 5k pb at the Laussane Diamond League meet.