A Runner’s Life: Track and Field and Cross Country Profiles



Vanessa Barajas
Vanessa Barajas

Vanessa Barajas gives 110 percent on and off the varsity track.

“I like to run,” 16-year-old junior Vanessa Barajas said.

Barajas runs both the mile and the two mile run for Birmingham Community Charter High School’s girls varsity track team. Barajas takes life one mile at a time. She tries her best and helps others with any struggles.

When not running, Barajas doesn’t stop trying to improve her athletic ability. She lifts weights to build strength, sometimes on her own time when not at practice, at a meet or doing homework.

“Vanessa is in varsity and she tries her best even if something is hard,” said freshman John Ford III, who is on men’s junior varsity track.

Barajas spends a lot of time on the track but she also makes time for her school work. She explained how her parents had to encourage her to join track. Now Barajas loves it so she decided to stay on the team and now runs for her own0 benefit.

Her goal for next season is to be able to run the mile under 6 minutes. Before meets, Barajas likes to prepare by eating pasta the night before and by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.

As a team, she feels like they all improved much since the girls’ varsity track had gone up all the way to league finals. Despite some troubles, like missing a few practices and slowing down due to lack of practice, Barajas always finds a way to get back on the track stronger than ever.

Iridian Jiminez
Iridian Jimenez



Dealing with school work and the competition of cross country might seem a lot to deal with. But junior Iridian Jimenez knows how to get it done.

“It’s a struggle to keep up with school work,” Jimenez said. “Practice runs late and it’s hard to do homework and study for tests.”

Jimenez was a little skeptical about running cross country at first. But with the encouragement of her friends, Jimenez went and tried out and ended up liking the sport. To prepare for meets, Jimenez eats healthy, drinks a lot of water and attends pre-meets for extra practice.

Cross country has affected Jimenez positively. She’s in great shape and keeps her busy. Jimenez competes in the mile run and her best mile time is 6 minutes and 36 seconds. She is determined to beat her time next season.

“I like to compete because it’s entertaining and I love the competition,” Jimenez said.



Meagan Ford
Meagan Ford


Junior Meagan Ford is an all-around team player who inspires to be a better runner.

Ford had an unfortunate chronic injury caused by too much pressure and over-exertion on her knees when she was practicing to be a better track runner. After being out for seven weeks, Ford did her best to get back in shape. Impressively, she made the varsity team during her first year and ranked in the top 24 of Birmingham Community Charter High School’s track team.

“Megan always try to do better,” said John Ford, her brother and team member. “She works the hardest and tries the hardest out of everyone.”

Meagan Ford realized she wanted to do running in eighth grade when she saw that she was faster than most kids. In 10th grade, she started cross country. When the cross country season was over, she wanted to keep running to keep in shape, so she joined track. If Ford did not join a sport, she would have no free time to work out.

Ford can run a mile in 5 minutes and 27 seconds.  Although, her goal is to make a mile in under five minutes and 20 seconds.

“I want to win,” Ford said. “I want to pass as many people as I can and help my team.”

Beatriz Castro
Beatriz Castro


In her junior year of high school, Beatriz Castro wanted to try something new. She want to join a sports team so she decided to run track and field.

As a junior varsity runner, Castro competed in the 800-meter-run.  She set a personal record of 3 minutes and 49 seconds.

“I wanted to join because I like to run,” Castro said. “When I run, I don’t think about anything other than running.”

 Castro set goals for herself like setting a new personal record and building her stamina.  Overall, Castro is proud of her season and is choosing to run again next year.

“I am most proud that I stayed after school for practice and I went to every meet,” Castro said.






John Ford
John Ford


The fast paced invigorating practices aren’t the only thing that freshman John Ford faces every day. But he tries his best to improve his speed on the hot blistering track.

Ford plans to stay on the cross-country team until his senior year because his parents and sister were in cross country and he really enjoys the sport, though he is also considering joining Birmingham Community Charter High School’s (BCCHS) water polo team because he thought it would be a great sport to be on during the spring semester. He has already looked into joining the team and is going to check if he’ll be able to be on both teams.

“My sister and parents were in cross-country and I really enjoy it myself. Cross-country is more scenic because the tracks are different,” Ford said. “Also I hate using tracks that go in circles because its the same thing over and over again.”

Ford’s team has played six meets and won four of them.

The usual cross-country practice is running at least 1200 meters. Before practice, there is a usual street run for 800 meters. Ford’s team sometimes goes to the park and runs 800 meters there as well.


Kimberly Salazar
Kimberly Salazar



Athlete Kimberly Salazar began cross country and track at Birmingham Community Charter High School during her sophomore year and has made many improvements, both mentally and physically.

Although Salazar didn’t have a main reason to join the sport, she learned to enjoy all the positive outcomes. Not only did she experience new situations, she also met new people. Salazar admits she isn’t the best but has improved much based on her first year in the sport.

“It was a different learning experience, something new and exciting,” Salazar said.

Salazar is able to run a mile in eight minutes and three seconds. She is a junior and a varsity long-distance runner. To prepare for a track meet, she eats a lot of proteins, carbs and stays hydrated. She used to have butterflies and nauseous feelings before and after the meets but now she has learned how to control and prevent those feelings.

Next year, she will only be doing cross country in the fall semester because of changes made in track.

“I’ve improved mentally and how to motivate others,” Salazar said.


Marcelina Vergara
Marcelina Vergara


Marcelina Vergara is a very competitive student athlete and has a great passion for running in both track and cross country.

Vergara is a sophomore athlete at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, who runs for the Birmingham Patriots at Birmingham Community Charter High School. Vergara participates in three-mile cross country races as well as an 800-meter (2 lap) race in track and field, including long and triple jumps. On average, Vergara finishes among the top six runners in these events. For her, it’s all about staying fit and just having fun.

“For me it’s enjoyable because I get to see all of my friends from Birmingham and I really enjoy running in the races,” Vergara said.

Vergara joined track and cross country for the Patriots when she made the decision that she wanted to get in a better shape. Her parents also encouraged her to try out for the team. Vergara has been improving her running performance since she started.

At first, she didn’t perform as she currently does, causing her to miss out on multiple races. To train for upcoming races, the team sprints and jogs for long distances. For track and field, the team performs vigorous jumping exercises. Vergara can be extremely competitive in runs to strive to be the best that she can be.

“I am very competitive so I always have to push myself to the farthest that I can go,” Vergara said. “In the end, it’s always fun to cross the finish line, knowing that you’re done.”


Micayla Rendon
Micayla Rendon


Freshman Micayla Rendon’s hard work paid off when she placed first in the West Valley League Finals.

Rendon runs for Birmingham Community Charter High School’s track team. Rendon’s main events are the 800 meter and her favorite is the high jump. During the fall semester, Rendon runs for Birmingham’s cross country team as well.

“She always does her best during practice so it’s no surprise she made league,” teammate Beatriz Castro said.

As a child, Rendon was a gymnast at All Olympia AOGC. Rendon did all the events, her favorite event is beam.

With this being her first year on track or cross country, Rendon has been pushing herself to be the best that she can. Her personal best for the high jump is 4 feet 4 inches and for the 800 it’s 2 minutes and 55 seconds. Even with the occasional knee pain, Rendon still gives it her all.

“Overall, the sport is really fun, I love the training and competition,” Rendon said.




Juliette Tafoya
Juliette Tafoya

Freshman Juliette Tafoya went above and beyond when she placed third during the Rotary Invitational Track and Field Meet.

On April 26, Birmingham Community Charter High School had its annual Rotary Meet. Tafoya ran the 1600-meter-run and won third place.

Unfortunately, Tafoya did not fully participate in cross country during the first semester due to an illness. However, she was able to recover before the beginning of the track season.

Tafoya was part of the Frosh-Soph team during cross contry season and was part of Junior Varsity (JV) on the meets.

The team succeeded a lot this year, only losing to Granada Hills Charter High School and El Camino Real High School.

“I’ve improved from my first time, 3:31 to 3:09 and I was able to be in third place in the Rotary Meet,” Tafoya said.

Track and field and cross country are not only about just running. In cross country, the athletes focus on running long distances and endurance while track and field is almost an individual sport. It has a variety of events such as sprints, long distance running, jumping events and shot put.

Tafoya enjoys the pre-meet workouts on Wednesdays and meets against other schools on Thursdays. Street runs and core workouts are also a good way to end her day.

“Winning the Rotary meet was probably the highlight of her season,” JV runner Beatriz Castro said.

Miriam Dominguez
Miriam Dominguez


It was exciting for Miriam Dominguez’s first time on the junior varsity cross country team last semester.

“I wanted to be involved in a sport and my friends encouraged me to join,” junior Dominguez said.

 As her first time in cross country, Dominguez was happy she joined. She had many races that were challenging, but she often ran in her neighborhood to practice. Dominguez also had friends to run with during practice, making the runs more enjoyable.

A normal day of practice was usually three miles of running from Birmingham Community Charter High School to Balboa Park and back.

Dominguez later decided that she didn’t want to move onto track and field at the beginning of the spring semester because she had too much homework to do and practice ended late. Many of her friends on the team didn’t want her to leave.

“It was sad that she was leaving because she was my running buddy,” sophomore Marcelina Vergara said.

Although Dominguez doesn’t want to rejoin the team next year, she plans on running in the future.

Editors note: If an athlete is not profiled, the Journalism 1 student assigned that profile did not turn it in.