April 24, 2009

Chula Vista’s Mendoza in Search of a Scholarship

By John Philip Wyllie

In the fall, Mexico City-born Jessica Mendoza was the runner-up in the Mesa League Cross Country Finals. Now she is putting her long distance running ability to use for Chula Vista High’s Track Team. Running the 1600 and the 3200, Mendoza is again expected to challenge for a league title. She stumbled upon long distance running by accident.

“I started off running the 800 and the mile and I made it to CIF my sophomore year in the 800,” Mendoza said. “The following year they didn’t have many milers and two milers so they had me focus on those. I don’t really like the two-mile, but that is the one that I am better at.”

“My goal this year is just to improve upon my times of 5:28 (1600) and 11:48 (3200). I have never won a league title, but I have finished second twice,” Mendoza said following a convincing first place finish in last week’s dual meet against Bonita Vista.

“Jessica has been a All-League performer in cross country the last three years and she has qualified in each of the last two years for the CIF competition in both the 1600 and the 3200,” according to her coach, Art Johnson. “She has been a team captain in both cross country and track the last two years and she has a G.P.A. around 3.87. It is very upsetting, but at this point at least she still doesn’t have a solid scholarship offer. It is really a shame because she is a great kid and a great motivator. Last summer she raised over $1200 for her cross country team.”

When she is not competing or doing her torturous pyramid training for track Mendoza can often be found hitting the books. Her efforts in the classroom have paid off with top grades and a spot on the Union-Tribune All-Academic Team.

Strong in the area of math and sciences, Mendoza would like to pursue a degree in Zoology or Marine Biology. A scholarship would help to make that dream a reality.

She is already well on her way to fulfilling the American dream. After spending the first five years of her life in Mexico City Mendoza immigrated with her family to this country.

“Fortunately, I was five when I came over so I was able to absorb the language easily,” she said with no trace of an accent. She has not only survived on this side of the border, she has thrived excelling both academically and athletically. She jokingly attributes her success as a runner to oversized lungs developed in Mexico City’s elevation and smog. The reality is that her success has come with a significant amount of innate talent combined with equal helpings of determination. She finds running therapeutic.

“Running helps me clear my mind. If there is something on my mind it goes away when I am running. It helps me with my frustrations.”

If Mendoza can parlay her considerable academic and athletic ability into a scholarship, she have one less frustration to deal with.

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