Ford running to CSU Fullerton
For The Madera Tribune
Accomplished Madera Coyotes cross country and track runner Unique Ford will run for CSU Fullerton next season.
Two-time Div. II Central Section cross country champion Unique Ford is through tormenting the Central Valley. Instead she will try to do put Big West Conference foes in her rear-view mirror running at CSU Fullerton.
“I just liked their campus and environment,” Ford said. “I feel like I can grow there.”
Ford is one of the more accomplished runners to come through Madera, following in the historic footsteps on one of the better cross country programs in the section.
She won two straight Div. II individual championships, the most recent by 12 seconds. She also placed sixth in the CIF State Championships while beating her personal best time by more than 30 seconds.
In addition, she won the last three CMAC championships and led the Coyotes to two straight CMAC championships. She won last year’s CMAC championships by almost 30 seconds.
“I am so proud of myself,” she said. “I came a long way. People know me as this person, but I showed them wrong. I’m not that type of person anymore. It feels awesome to be considered one of the best.
“The thing that keeps me pushing is the way my mindset is. Even though no one is by me, I need to push, as a runner, to better myself. I really wanted to hit my personal records. That really kept me going.”
“One of the reasons I came back was for the two girls (Unique and Linda),” said Madera Coyotes cross country coach Russ Stanford. “If you look at their four years, they have had three different coaches. With that talent the girls had, I felt like they were ripped off. I came back to coach them and put things back together.”
Ford credits Stanford into getting her on the right track and narrow down her collegiate options.
“He’s been a big help,” she said. “He helped narrowed down my options. He’s been a good coach for me.”
“She was interested in running and wanting to be good, but nobody was tapping her potential,” Stanford said. “I wanted to make her work harder than she thinks she can. Once she tasted how good she could be, that was the difference, Towards the end of last year, it surprised her a bit. It goes down to her soul and what she wanted to do. This year, we told her to run how she could. She impressed everybody out there. Running Valley in track woke everybody up and that was part of the things that told her if she concentrated on what she was doing, she could be a top-notch runner in the area. That’s what happened.”
Ford said the decision was between CSU Northridge, UC Riverside and Fullerton.
“I got that feeling that I can be there and start my life there,” she said of her Fullerton choice.
Her school selections weren’t by accident. She wanted to attend a school within the state.
“I just didn’t want to be that far from my family,” she said. “That’s a cool distance and far enough for me.”
Ford actually signed her National Letter of Intent a few months ago, but is ready for the new beginnings.
“I felt really accomplished and felt like my hard work has paid off,” she said. “The thing that motivates me is the feeling that running gives me. It makes me feel good about myself. It releases a lot of stress.”
Even now, Ford, although bored, is still doing her workouts.
“Right now, I’m doing long runs like about 50 minutes each day. It’s about six or seven miles,” she said.
This year, Ford had a partner in her runs and competitions — Linda Perez, who signed with Minot University.
“It helped me a lot to have Linda with me,” Ford said. “Especially being able to run with the boys with Linda pushed me to run faster. It made me a better runner, overall.”
Ford, who will run both cross country and track at Fullerton, was upset about her track season getting derailed.
“I was really upset track was canceled,” she said. “I had a lot of personal records that I wanted to hit that I wasn’t able to. The goal this year was to break the school’s mile record. I was four seconds away last year.”
Ford intends to become a nurse after graduation. She will also be joined at Fullerton by softball player Valerie Ornelas.
“We have talked about going to school together,” Ford said. “We might even room together. I won’t be alone and will have someone there to talk to.”
Ford is looking forward to beginning the next chapter in her life and her CMAC opposing coaches are happy to see her out of the league.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll evolve as a runner over there and break some records.”