There are probably plenty of Commonwealth Conference runners and coaches who wish that Greater Lawrence junior Yosvaldy Tejeda had stuck to basketball.
When he showed up for cross country practice last year, it was for one reason and one reason only.
“I just did it for basketball, to stay in better shape for the season,” said Tejeda. “I didn’t know if I’d be any good as a runner.”
Tejeda, it turns out, has been much better than good.
He edged out returning Reggie standout Hansel Santos for first place in the first meet last year and he has yet to lose a league cross country race, including at the Commonwealth Conference league meet. He quickly set the Greater Lawrence course record, a 16:23 for 3.06 miles.
When Tejeda showed up for basketball practice last year, he was in excellent shape. But his knees ached from years of pounding on the hardcourt, including the previous summer. He decided — with urging from cross country coach Jay Santomassino — to concentrate on running.
“Then it was disappointing, because I had worked on basketball so hard in the summer — it was like a wasted summer,” said Tejeda. “But now I see it as a good thing. I wasn’t going to do anything in basketball, but I can maybe do something with my running.”
Now a three-season runner, who was undefeated in CAC action in indoor track and lost only once outdoors, Tejeda has already done something positive by running.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t like sports that much, but I’m smart enough to pick sports I’m good at,” said Tejeda, who had a best 2-mile time of 10:10 as a sophomore. “I do sports to be committed, to stay out of trouble, to stay away from drugs.
“Most of my friends — or they were my friends — do drugs and they try to persuade me to do them. I don’t want anything to do with it.”