GCC took sixth at the California Community College Athletic Association Track and Field Championships thanks to Grace Graham-Zamudio who brought home three state titles.
That weekend, Graham-Zamudio, a sophomore and sociology major at GCC, won the Vaqueros’ first triple crown and helped the track and field team land the high ranking.
“I feel very accomplished and I’m really blessed to have had such an amazing season this year,” said Graham-Zamudio. “I would like to thank my family, my coaches and my teammates. I’m really happy how this season turned out.”
The championships were held at the San Mateo College from May 17 to 18.
“She concluded her season by becoming the first woman in California
community college state history to win the 1,500, the 5,000 and the 10,000 meter events in the same meet,” assistant coach Bryan Ramos said.
During the championships, Graham-Zamudio took first place at the 1,500 meter run, speeding past her opponents and finishing with 4:36.13, the second place runner, Becky Hobby, finishing second at 4.43.56.
“With every victory, she always remained to be the humblest of athletes,” said Charlene Quintanilla, Graham-Zamudio’s teammate and friend. “Sometimes Grace would be 200 plus meters behind the leader, and somehow we all knew that she would make it back to the front.”
After the 1,500, she then ran the women’s 5000-meter, landing first place again at 17:41.04, nearly 15 seconds ahead of Megan McNally, the second place runner.
Her last competition was the 10,000-meter run, where she won her third state title scoring first place with a time of 37:22.19. The second place runner, Evelyn De la Luz, finished in second with 37.39.93.
When asked what helped her this season, Graham-Zamudio talked about commitment and dedication. “I was very consistent as far as training goes and listening to what my coach said compared to my past seasons,” Graham-Zamudio said.
Ramos said that what Graham-Zamudio accomplished at the Track and Field State Championships was historic.
“I don’t think we will see another athlete pull off this accomplishment,” Ramos said. “She not only captured the Triple Crown at the State Championships, but did so at the Southern California Championships and Western State Conference Championships. I think the entire coaching staff would agree that what she did was special and she inspired us all.”
The last runner to perform as well at state was Joe Staub, who took home two medals in the 1980 state meet in the shot put and discus competitions, one medal behind Graham-Zamudio.
Graham-Zamudio gave advice to the teammates she worked with this semester and to any future competitors.
“Follow your heart and keep your dreams alive because hard work pays off,” Graham-Zamudio said. “As long as you keep working hard the results will come eventually. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
She intends to compete when she transfers to a four-year university.
“I’m trying to decide between two colleges,” Graham-Zamudio said. It’s kind of difficult because one is out of state and ones only an hour and half away. It’s between Arizona State University and Long Beach.”
Graham-Zamudio has been offered scholarships at both universities. “There’s only great things ahead for Grace,” said Ramos. “She’s going to make her mark competing at the four-year university. Her range from the 800 meters all the way up to the 10,000 meters is her strength.”
The 19-year-old track star has no regrets. She said she’s happy she came to GCC and decided to pursue running at a collegiate level after high school.
“Back in high school I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to continue running, but after going to Glendale and running with Coach Lopez, I’ve come so far and I’ll definitely be doing it wherever I transfer to,” said Graham-Zamudio.
Graham-Zamudio didn’t only take home three state titles, scholarships and shiny medals; she was also able to create lifelong relationships with her teammates. “I met my husband on the team last semester, so it’s a big part of my life.”
Quintanilla and Graham-Zamudio became great friends and helped each other through rough practices and tough competition.
“Sometimes coach Lopez would give us really hard workouts, but she never complained,” said Quintanilla. “She always has a positive attitude, and that really helped, because we all feed off each others energy.”
She also said that she owed most of her friendships and the relationships she created with her teammates to GCC. “My teammates and coaches played a big part in who I am today,” said Graham-Zamudio.
Graham-Zamudio said she is proud to call herself a Vaquero and lift GCC high in the rankings. She also said she’s proud of herself and that she had enough talent to accomplish something so great.
“I feel really happy because before this season I never won a state title,” said Graham-Zamudio. “I probably would’ve been content with just one, but to have three is really a blessing and I’m very thankful.”