Star Runners Share a Passion, but Have Followed Different Paths

Ross Coleman

Glendale track and field had a lot of success this year. However two runners personify that success a little more than everyone else. For the women it has been sophomore Vivien Wadeck, 29, who qualified for the Southern California State Finals Meet in both the 1500-meters and as a member of the 400-meter relay team. On the men’s side it is sophomore Mike Flowers, 20, who qualified for the Southern California Finals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Wadeck has had a lot of success running at Glendale, competing in both track and field and cross-country against competitors sometimes as much as ten years younger than her.

Wadeck’s running career started later than most runners at this level. After swimming for most of her high school years, she didn’t start running until her junior year. After graduation she attended Central Arizona College where she ran for one year on a team that finished very high in the national championships.

However, after that first year Wadeck wasn’t sure she wanted to be there. “The first year I ran was different because I was out of high school, the practices were harder, there were more miles, but I didn’t give 100 percent and unless you have a coach who really cares, you can’t do it,” said Wadeck.
So after taking time off and leaving competitive running behind, Wadeck came out west to train for the L.A. Marathon in March of 2007.

“I really just ran on my own,” said Wadeck. “I trained for maybe a month, but I did OK. I finished in under four hours, which was the goal.”

A few months later Wadeck won her age division in a local 10k race. After a few more local races, assistant coach David Rodriguez found Wadeck and recruited her to come and run for Glendale.

Two weeks before the cross-country season started, Wadeck was training to be on the team. “When coach Rodriguez asked me to be on the team I thought, I’m too old. The girls are a lot younger and in better shape, but that was crazy,” she said.

Wadeck, who also was a member of the Lady Vaqs 2007 State Champion cross-country team, has become an inspiration to many locals. At a recent meet Wadeck was approached by a man she didn’t know who had some encouraging words. “He said, ‘all of our girls want to be like you,’ which I thought was kind of funny.”

Next year Wadeck will be running for Cal State L.A. where she has a full scholarship and will have two years of eligibility left. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work. But I am really excited to train with [assistant] coach Gretchen [Corrales] who recruited me.”

After graduation, Wadeck hopes to follow wherever the running will take her – whether that’s coaching or competing. “I might like to get into coaching because I believe in the whole system. Especially with what coach [Eddie] Lopez is doing, he is really great with developing runners and getting them to the next level. He makes them see their potential in running.”

Wadeck added, “Anyone can run as fast as me. It’s just training and how much you want to put into it.”

Flowers followed a more traditional route to the track team at Glendale. He was a star runner at Los Angeles High School, where he still holds records as a member of the 400-meter relay team, the 1,600-meter relay team, and the distance medley team where he ran the 1,600-meter leg.

“I have always liked to run and play all kinds of sports, but I seemed really good at running. However, I was lazy, I didn’t want to join a sports team, but my mom forced me to and now it has seemed to work out.”

Next year it appears that Flowers will be attending Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. where he will need to learn to run in the high altitude. “My main fear is the cold,” Flowers said.

Flowers also gives a lot of the credit to his success to his head coach. “Coach Lopez pushes me and helps me stay focused when I get a little off track,” said Flowers. “I think he is a really good coach.”

Flowers said there would be a lot of things he is going to miss about this team next year. “I personally value friendships a lot and the team is really close together at all times,” he said. “I will miss the training and dedication that the coaches have given to me and the team, it’s like a family.”

After graduation Flowers hopes to either begin coaching others or possibly become a sports team trainer.