Fully healthy Cortes headed to FSU
For The Madera Tribune
Madera South runner Diana Cortes surrounded by her mother and coaches after she signed her National Letter of intent to run for Fresno State University.
In the prime of the recruiting season, Madera South cross country runner Diana Cortes was injured and it carried over to the track season where she wasn’t sure if she would ever get back to where she was.
However, a fully healthy Cortes set personal records in the track season and caught the eye of the coaches at Fresno State University, where she signed a National Letter of Intent.
“I was reaching out to colleges, but the coach from Fresno State said he was looking at me, but hadn’t had the chance to call me,” she said. “I contacted him first. He said they would enjoy having me there. From what I saw, there aren’t too many girls going there.”
Cortes helps keep a tradition of Madera County cross country runners heading to college and also sought the advice of another runner, Jaydah Aguilar, who ran at UC Merced.
“I did a tour with her,” Cortes said. “I was considering going because she was going there. The school wasn’t a fit for me, educational-wise. Fresno State was because I was looking at my education. Athletics came second. My parents didn’t like that athletics was one of my top priorities. Jaydah seemed really happy with her team and with her bond. I felt if she could do it, I could do it too.”
Cortes was considering UC Merced and also UC Santa Cruz, but chose Fresno State.
“I chose it because it would be really convenient for me since it’s so local,” she said.
However, Cortes had a tough time because she is the first one in her family to go to college.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know how to sign up for college. That was really hard,” she said.
Cortes, who carried a 4.5 grade point average at Madera South, plans to major in civil engineering to become an environmental engineer.
Cortes came into cross country late. She didn’t even run her freshman year, but joined the track team because of her friends.
“I didn’t know about the tradition of sending kids to college,” she said. “I wasn’t even considering running in college, at all. It was in my senior year where I found out that I could run in college.”
She joined the track team as something to do for her freshman year.
“At first, I thought I wasn’t doing anything at home so it would be good to go out and do something,” she said. “I was with my friends and it wasn’t something I too seriously.”
By the time she finished her sophomore year, she felt like she had a chance to go to college.
“I felt like I was doing good for being a sophomore,” Cortes said. “I thought this is kind of fun since I’m okay at it. I wonder where I would be if I started before high school. It’s kind of pointless to think about it now.”
Cortes’ track season was better than her cross country season because she was hurt late in fall sport season.
“I was happy to go a season without injuries in track,” Cortes said. “ In my second-to-last race, I got a personal record.”
She finished sixth in the County/Metro Athletic Conference in cross country and set a personal record in the CMAC championships during the track seaon.
“I was hurt in cross country,” she said. “It was really tough. I really kept the mentality of am I able to run faster than I ran before? I wondered if this is how fast I’ll ever go. That last race that I got a personal record really helped. It was tough to see my times during the injury. Because of track season, I was able to focus on that than the injury.”
In addition to the injuries she suffered in the cross country season, Cortes worked hard for the Stallions to just field a team.
“It was really difficult in cross country because there were so little girls. Injuries hit all of us. There was like three of us in one race,” she said.
Cortes said that education played a factor in choosing Fresno State, but also admits she wasn’t ready to leave home.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to be on my own, yet,” she said. “I just got my driver’s license. I just drove on the freeway a few weeks ago. My mom and I make excuses to go “practice,” and go shopping. It puts my parent’s mind at ease that I’m close. They were really worried about moving away, normal parent stuff.”
Cortes is excited about continuing her athletic career, but also about attending college.
“There’s not a lot of pressure on me since I’m a freshman,” she said. “I’m going to try to push myself. Last year, I felt there was a lot of pressure. I was really excited that Fresno State wanted me. UC Santa Cruz told me I was their top recruit.”