Silverado senior Omar Aguilar-Espinoza was swarmed by teammates after his victory in the 1,600-meter run Saturday at the Las Vegas Track Classic.
He paused, then flashed a celebratory grin as he huffed and puffed under the desert sun. Er, the Desert Oasis High School sun.
Winning feels good.
Redemption feels better.
Aguilar-Espinoza, the state’s top returning two-miler, missed most of the cross country season with iliotibial band syndrome — a painful thigh condition that commonly plagues runners — and contemplated quitting competitive running.
The pain was unbearable, physically and mentally, and he missed several key months of training while pondering his future.
“A lot of things went through my mind,” Aguilar-Espinoza said. “I had a lot of downs, especially the injury … Everything was just going down the drain.”
But Aguilar-Espinoza’s parents and Skyhawks distance coach Kyle McNulty urged him to rehabilitate the injury, and he complied with their requests.
He worked diligently with physical therapists to restore his health between cross country and track seasons, and reaped the rewards with a victory in the 5,000-meter run Friday and Saturday’s win in the 1,600.
“Track (season) has been about building,” McNulty said. “I think he saw that he was improving, and that he could put training into his body and he wouldn’t get hurt. He built confidence again, and I think that’s really what it came down to.”
Aguilar-Espinoza wanted to complete the 5,000 in less than 16 minutes and did just that, finishing in 15 minutes, 59.19 seconds.
His first-place time of 4 minutes, 29.12 seconds in the 1,600 is the fastest in Nevada this year, according to Athletic.net.
“Now that I look at it, I’m so happy I did track again,” Aguilar-Espinoza said. “I’m trying to stay healthy. That’s all I want.”
Contact reporter Sam Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.
Las Vegas Track Classic highlights
— Centennial senior sprinter Tre Harley won the 200-meter dash in 22.09 — the best time in the state this season — and the 400-meter dash in 48.94.
— Liberty junior thrower Corey Moore Jr. recorded a personal record of 193 feet, 3 inches in the discus and won the event by almost 37 feet.
— Moapa Valley senior Joshua Lee cleared 14 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault to win the event and set a personal record.
— Rancho junior Amir’a Edmond won the 100 in a personal-record time of 12.16 and took second in the 200 in 25.17.
— Centennial’s Alexis Gourrier won the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 17.10 seconds — her best time this season.
— Katera Braggs of Green Valley won the shot put with a personal-record throw of 36 feet, 1 inch.