Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Nicholas Hernandez runs the course to help the Stallions win their ninth straight Valley Championship. He signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Emry-Riddle University on May 5.
After gradually working his way to the varsity team, Madera South cross country runner Nicholas Hernandez can see stars in his future.
Hernandez signed his National Letter of Intent to run cross country and track at NAIA Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on May 5 with three other teammates.
“It’s cool to be able to see college coming,” he said.
Hernandez, who carries a 3.8 grade point average, will be working to fulfill two dreams at Embry-Riddle in Arizona. The first dream is to go to college to run. The other dream is to become an astronomer.
“I find it really cool to go to college,” he said. “I’ve dreamed of of being an astronomer. I thought it was far away and it was never going to happen. Now it’s here and it’s going to happen.”
Hernandez went on official visits to Holy Names University, Azusa Pacific University, Fresno State and UC Merced. Three of the four schools have a Madera South runner on the team. However, Hernandez chose to go to where he will be the unknown.
“It’s kind of new for me,” he said. “I am not going to know anybody there.”
However, it was a talk from a coach that got Hernandez interested in Embry-Riddle.
“One of our coaches told us about one of his college teammates transferred to Embry-Riddle and became an aeronautical engineer so that got me thinking about applying to Embry-Riddle,” Hernandez said. “I contacted them. I showed them my times and they were interested.”
Hernandez is one of many Madera South cross country runners spread throughout college on the west coast. He is looking forward to competing with them, but also to reunite.
“It will be weird running against them, but it will be nice to see them at other races” he said.
Hernandez was third on the Stallions’ team in November’s Central Section cross country championships while leading the Stallions to their nine straight Valley Championship.
“It was a lot of hard work to be successful.” He said. “It was a lot of dedication and mileage. We are always like a family. It will be tough separating. There was pressure to win. You have to tell yourself to do it. You don’t want to be the ones not to do it.”
However, the road wasn’t smooth for Hernandez. He said he worked harder than anybody else to improve from his freshman season.
“I want people to remember my hard work,” Hernandez said. “My freshman year, I didn’t run very fast. Every year, I worked hard. I finally got to be on varsity and I enjoyed it.”
It was when Hernandez reached the varsity level did he think he had a future in running.
“Once I got on varsity, I thought this was great,” he said. “I saw the future open up for me.”
Hernandez is excited about the opportunity to attend Embry-Riddle. Not only will be able to pursue his dream of becoming an astronomer, but he says it will be interesting to be around a lot of smart people.
“I want to enjoy myself,” he said. “They have a lot of smart people there. That got me interested. I wanted to be around them. Even the cross country runners are extremely smart.”