Tomas Kassahun/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Unique Ford, right, heads to the finish line in the Div. II CIF State Cross Country championships race with a personal best time. Ford placed sixth in the state and beat her personal record by more than 30 seconds.
FRESNO — Madera Coyotes senior Unique Ford has been making strides since freshman year looking to prove that she can keep up with the best runners in the state.
Ford achieved her goal at the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Fresno’s Woodward Park, setting a personal record and getting a top-10 finish in the Div. II girls race.
Running with California’s best, the senior stayed with the lead group for most of the race and finished sixth with a time of 17:43.5, beating her personal best time by more than 30 seconds.
“I’ve been wanting this since freshman year and I finally got it,” Ford said. “I’ve come a long way since freshman year.”
Although she saw the lead group pulling away towards the end, Ford said she was determined to keep going because she wanted to get a personal record.
“I felt like I was gonna PR, so I tried to stick with them,” Ford said. “The competition made me go faster.”
Ford went to the state championship after capturing her second straight Div. II Central Section Cross Country championship on Nov. 15 with a personal best time of 18:15.51.
Linda Perez also represented the Coyotes at the state championship, setting a personal record of 19:21.5 and finishing in 106th place.
“I felt pretty good because I had my PR,” Perez said. “I have never run with some of these girls out here, so I don’t know how their performance is, so I was just trying to keep up with as many as I could.”
Although she wasn’t happy with how she started the season, Perez said she’s happy with the progress she made.
“For me individually, I wasn’t really good,” Perez said. “I wasn’t getting my best times, but in the end, I think I surpassed it.”
As a team, the Coyotes finished the season with their second straight County/Metro Athletic Conference championship.
“Being CMAC champions two years in a row is a big deal,” Perez said. “I’m very proud of my team.”