KING CITY — Eduardo Orozco will be taking his running talents to Alaska in the next few weeks to compete for the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Orozco, 20, of King City committed to the university by signing a National Letter of Intent last Wednesday at Hartnell College in Salinas. Orozco will continue to run and study in Alaska where he will join former Panther teammates George Sanchez and Justin Carrancho as members of the track and field and cross country teams.
“This is a really exciting moment for me, and I still can’t believe it,” said Orozco. “I had some ups and downs my freshman year at Hartnell but everything changed for me when I began to work harder at school and in running.”
Orozco ran two years on the Panther cross country and track and field teams and sat out the fall season as he waited to make the move to Anchorage. Orozco will join his teammates in time to prepare for the track and field season.
According to Hartnell cross country and track and field head coach Christopher Zepeda he always knew that Orozco had talent but that he just needed to refocus on his running and in the classroom.
“I told Eduardo that he had to approach school and running like a job and things could be better for him,” said Zepeda. “It was important that Eduardo take all his classes here in Salinas, study hard after class, and then he could put in good workouts in his running. He had to realize the choice is up to him and he listened to my advice. The work paid off because he started the track season in March with a personal best of 1:53 in the 800 and that proved to him that he has the ability to excel. I told him after that race that this last season is going to be up to you. He responded by working hard and graduated from school and became a State champion with a time of 3:52.25 at the state finals. He did something that not too many others have accomplished, and that is to be a State champ.”
Orozco was a standout at King City High School as a member of the Mustang cross country and track and field championship teams. The distance runner enjoyed racing on the courses and track and even took a little time to play soccer. At Hartnell Orozco because part of the Panther winning tradition.
“When Lalo attended King City Mr. Cavanaugh and Mr. Daines were always after him to do well in school and keep up his grades,” said Orozco’s mother Nancy Reyes. “School at Hartnell was tough for him but we are proud that he worked hard and graduating and is now going on to run the university in Alaska. As a parent that is all we can strive for. He was a good role model for other runners at King City and especially to his younger brother Esteban who runs at King City and his eight-year-old and five-year-old sisters.”
Zepeda noted that former Panthers Amy Johnson and Michael Ramirez were the first runners from Hartnell to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage and that both runners became All-Americans at the NCAA Divison III level. Orozo became just the third ever state champion in the 1500 for Hartnell along with Brian Wilkinson and Diego Leon. Orozco is the in third place on the Hartnell record board in the 1500 behind Cristian Soratos and Wilkinson.
“Last year when I made it to the State and won the 1500 no one knew who I was,” said Orozco. “I won Nor Cal in the 1500 and really began to put in speedwork. With Coach Zepeda’s help I was able to put the pieces together that he had given me. I year’s past I would have taken a break in December and then start to train but I didn’t do that this year and the hard work paid off.”