THE RUNNING MAN
His former Tiger teammate Jacob Gerren—who made it to state in the
1,600-meter run in
2011—still gives him advice.
His appearance at the state cross country meet earlier in the school year was an invaluable learning tool.
Rubio—who qualified for the state meet in the 3,200-meter run—is a frontrunner and sometimes that attribute gets him in trouble.
The junior jumped out to the early lead at the cross country meet and found he had nothing left at the end for any kind of kick.
“It helped at regionals,” Rubio said of the experience. “I started off a little slower. I didn’t try and take the lead.
“Jacob told me, don’t get out to far. It’s been easier. I don’t get so tired and I found I have more kick at the end.
“For Juan its all mental he has to think the race through,” says Rockdale track coach Charles Hall. “To be in the top nine at the Class 3A level you have to be someone special and Juan is a talented young man.
“But Juan does have to put that extra extra work. When he finishes his workout he comes over and runs with the sprinters. Getting to be a state qualifier is a lot of work for Juan and staying health. If you ask Juan if he works hard he will smile and say no. But you won’t find many that want to work with him or do the workout that he does.”
Rubio is right in the middle of the pack as far as qualifying times at state go.
There are four runners in the field that are making return engagements in the event, including Gabriel Zambrano of Fort Worth Castleberry who was fourth in 2011.
The top qualifier is German Lopez of Kaufman, who’s 9:46.02 time is tops.
Rubio qualified with a 10:00.35.
He realizes he will probably have to turn in a personal best to medal.
“Both miles are going to have to be under five minutes,” he said. “But, my goal is to medal and set the school record—or both.”
The school record of 9:52.06 is owned by Lee Nichols, who set in 1986 when he went to state in both the 1,600 and the 3,200.
Nichols, a track journalist, has seen Rubio perform. “I’ve watched Juan run twice now at the Rockdale Relays, and his talent is obvious,” Nichols said. “If he doesn’t get the 3,200 record Saturday, then I’m certain he’ll break it his senior year. It’s time for my records to be broken - 26 years is too long. I’m excited to watch him in Austin. I’ll be in the stands, cheering for him.”
A trip to the state track meet is a far cry from the kid who quit track in eighth grade, but decided to give it one more shot.
“You think about it, only the top nine go,” he said. “To win would be great, but it’s going to take a lot of work.
“I know it’s the last meet, the state meet, but I have to act like it’s just another meet.”