By Hernan Bueno ’18
Ulises Bautista is a senior on the Pritzker Cross Country team. Bautista began running for the Cross Country team his sophomore year and became captain of the boy’s team this year. However, that was not his only big accomplishment this year. After making it past Regionals and Sectionals, Bautista recently qualified for States at Peoria, IL and is the first in the Pritzker to do so. Going into States he had the support of his coaches, family, friends, and staff who were proud that Ulises Bautista would go represent the Noble Network at such a big event.
Bautista worked hard to make it to States. He was determined to finish his last season strong but he had to make sacrifices such as occasionally missing meets due to the fact he injured his knee. Once his knee was better he attended practice every day despite bad weather and pushed himself to improve. When asked how much he practiced to get this far, Bautista stated, “I began running a few months before the season started so that I can jump back in where I left off from the previous year[…] I ran harder in practice and ran on my own when there wasn’t any official team practice.”
States is very competitive and that means that the runners practice all year to make sure they do their best. Bautista could not do the same since he had his injury and as a result, felt like he was at a disadvantage. He states, “I didn’t realize I was going to run in races as competitive as the races I ran this year.” Even more daunting was the fact that Illinois is one of the most competitive states for Cross Country and has some of the fastest runners. Bautista was not used to this kind of competitiveness since he often placed well in other races but all of this did not affect him. He was motivated to place well and finish his year strong.
At States, the runners ran a total of 3 miles, which were timed. Each runner had bibs that registered their places and recorded their times when they ran through the finish line. A total of 629 registered runners split into Classes 1A, 2A, and 3A. Bautista ran his three miles with a time of 15:50 and finished 69th “I’m not sure yet if I want to run in college but it’s nice to know I have the option.”
Bautista ran his fastest time throughout his three years on the team and admits he was proud of how he did during the season overall. Nonetheless, Bautista did not feel he did his best because of his injury and the lack of confidence he had in his abilities: “If I had been more aware of my ability I would’ve done much better throughout the season than I did.” Despite that, he learned an important lesson once he was done running which was, “Running is more of a mental sport than a physical one.”