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Linda Perez using Minot pipeline

For The Madera Tribune

Madera Coyotes cross country and track runner Linda Perez will continue her career at Minot University.


Madera Coyotes cross country and track runner Linda Perez is using the little-known pipeline to North Dakota for her collegiate years.

She signed a National Letter of Intent to Minot University in North Dakota. In addition to Perez, Kris Bueno (football, Madera) and Victor Ochoa (cross country, Madera South) are also on campus from Madera.

Perez said Minot reached out through social media.

“They were looking at California schools,” she said. “They said they had other kids they were recruiting. I think their coach saw my times and reached out on social media.”

In addition to having her major (criminology), Perez saw this as an opportunity to spread her wings and go outside of California for school.

“It was mainly the major,” she said. “They were one of the few schools that reached out to me that had my major. I liked the weather and it was pretty far. I wanted to go far for school.”

Perez actually signed her National Letter of Intent a few weeks ago with her family.

“I stood there for a minute and looking at it. I was wondering, ‘I am really going to sign,’” she said. “I was hoping for a signing party, but with everything going on, we can’t do that. Once I signed, I felt relieved. I had everything set for me. It makes me feel like I have something planned instead of running around looking at colleges. I have a pathway set of what to do when I’m at college.”

Perez didn’t even think she would make varsity by the time she was a senior as a freshman so going to college to run wasn’t even in the picture.

“Mostly, my mom kept me going,” she said. “She said if she had a chance to run cross country in high school, she would have. Now all those workouts have paid off.”

Perez is part of a one-two punch for the Coyotes. Her and Unique Ford led the Coyotes to back-to-back Country/Metro Athletic Conference championships.

“She, definitely, pushed me to be a better runner,” Perez said. “When we had our off days, we would push each other. I told her to keep going because it would pay off at the end. She did the same to me. We would joke around about who would finish in front of another.”

Perez also earned her first trip to the CIF State Championship with an eighth place finish in the Central Section Div. II championship race.

“It was a big eye-opener,” she said. “I have never been at a race like that where every athlete takes it very seriously and runs their whole heart out. It was new for me running it. During the race, it was overwhelming with a whole bunch of crowds and runners left and right. I wish I could have run it again. I think college will help me with that.”

“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.

“Linda is a quiet kid, but she has her own self-value. She establishes her goals and doesn’t let anyone take it away from here. Linda would come in at 6 a.m. to do her workouts and finishing her workouts as we were ready to go in the morning. I don’t know many high school kids would do that. She wanted to get stronger and improve on what she’s done over the last couple of years. I think her heart was in it this year and it showed. She understood she was one of these quality athletes.”

Perez’s track season was cut short by the pandemic and she was looking forward to improving her times in the mile, two-mile and 800 meter runs.

“My goal for track was to get a better place at Valley,” she said.

With the quarantine in order for Perez, she said she is dealing with it, although she is not running 40-50 miles a week like she would have done this season.

Perez is looking forward to Minot and also looking forward to the weather, although her parents are not looking forward to seeing her leave.

“I love the winter. It’s my favorite season,” she said. “I haven’t seen the snow fall so I’m pretty excited. At first, they didn’t want me to go since it was so far. However, they said they support even though they don’t like it. I think I will miss my parents more.”


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