Born into an athletic family, Paulino Sanchez has been a natural since the day he started running at Anaheim High School during his sophomore year.
While in high school, Sanchez earned the title of league champ in 2012 with a time of 16 minutes for the 5K.
Today, the 21-year-old is the Santa Ana College men’s cross country team captain, and is helping the team rebuild momentum after a downfall that began in 2007.
“I truly do it for the guys and I feel like they deserve to shine and get noticed from Santa Ana College if not from universities,” Sanchez, a junior, said.
After his parents split up when he was young, Sanchez became the father figure for his two younger brothers. Because of this, he feels the need to step up as a leader on and off the track.
“Wanting to be a fast runner is hard,” he said. “When I want to give up, I remind myself of why I run and do it with my heart rather than my legs.”
SAC Cross Country coach Miriam Mitzel said Sanchez goes the extra mile for the team.
“He volunteers to help me a lot with recruiting,” Mitzel said. “And he always encourages the guys as well as the women’s team. He is an amazing captain and everybody looks up to him.”
In 2015, he led the team of 11 to 3rd place in the league championship with a time of 21:01 in the 4K.
“I feel great about my accomplishments, although I feel like I can do more,” Sanchez said.
He takes his training seriously, as he and his team practice six days a week. He also follows a strict diet and makes time to rest.
“The way I prepare for meets is by starting a day before,” Sanchez said. “I load up on carbs by eating pasta and relaxing, then eat oatmeal in the morning so I won’t feel heavy.”
After earning an associate’s degree in kinesiology, he plans to continue running and be an assistant coach for SAC.