LA FERIA – Not enough can be said about La Feria’s Tina Sierra. The strong and resilient competitor has faced the state’s toughest opponents in cross country and has competed against the fastest runners on the track all while facing unforgiving obstacles.
This year, as a senior, Sierra has less than a hand full of races left in her high school career and can think of nothing more than to finish on top.
With her future committed to Texas State University, Sierra heads to the UIL 4A state track & field meet this weekend to compete in the 800-, 1600- and the 3200-meter runs.
In cross country this past fall, the senior won the District 32-4A meet, took home gold at the Region IV-4A meet and placed sixth at state.
The Valley Morning Star has an opportunity to speak with Sierra and find out what keeps the senior moving forward.
Q: It’s your senior season. What are going to miss most after graduation?
A: I feel as if I am going to miss the fact that I will not be around familiar faces such as my coaches and teammates that I have been with since I first started in middle and high school. It took a while to create such a special and close bond with each person that has helped me achieve my goals, and knowing that I will not be able to see them every day and hear their advice on what they have to offer me is such a sad thought.
Q: You signed with Texas State University earlier this year. What was it about the university that made it the right choice for you?
A: The main reason that I decided to run for Texas State is because it seemed to be the best place compared to the other coaches and teams I had met with. Texas State had a very friendly, safe and positive atmosphere. The coaches (Coach Alex Muntefering & Coach Jody Stewart) stressed that academics will most definitely come first before athletics and they hold their athletes to high expectations, so I believe that was the best choice overall, especially because I know that when I am held to higher expectations I will do my best and not disappoint others or myself.
Q: You’re heading back to the state track meet this season in three different events. What’s the atmosphere going to be like?
A: The atmosphere is very unique compared to last year. Last year, I only made it to state in the 3200 and now that I made it in the 3200, 800 and the 1600 I have to make sure that my strategy for the particular race that I am running is correct or else I will not perform as I expect to. The races I am most nervous about are the 800 and 1600 due to the finishes at regionals being so close together. Also, I am nervous about the 3200. I hope to set a personal record or a season’s best during the 3200 because I have not broken my personal record that I set last year at Meet of Champions (11:07) and the fastest I have run the 3200 this season is a 11:35, so it would be amazing to finish my senior year with a personal best or season record. Overall, the goals I have set for myself at state are going to difficult, but they are achievable.
Q: What’s your motivation when you get on the track and get ready to run?
A: My sister, Kimberly, always enjoyed watching me run when I was in junior high. However, when she passed away in the middle of my eighth grade year, I always went running to do something I knew would make her proud and happy for me. Every time I get on the track, I picture how she always wanted to compete and participate in sports, but she couldn’t because she had brain cancer. It makes me very grateful to be able to run and compete because knowing others are not able to run motivates me because I know how they must feel by wanting to participate but aren’t able to. When I run I know that I am making my family and my sister proud by showcasing the hard work I have put in with practices and conditioning. They have been a major part of why I continue to run. The least I could do is to go out and compete to make them proud.
Q: Your coach said you began running in middle school. What made you take on cross country and track as opposed to other sports?
A: I actually also participated in volleyball when I was in middle school, but I wasn’t good at volleyball so I decided to focus on just cross country and track once I got into high school. A major reason on why I decided to join cross country was due to my two best friends. At the beginning of my freshman year, our coach asked if anyone wanted to sign up for cross country. My best friends and I decided that we should all sign up and participate in the sport so we could be together and hang out more. At the first cross country meet, I placed 12th overall and I thought that was horrible, but my coach said that I placed very well so ever since then I just started to take cross country seriously because I knew I could possibly be an amazing runner.
Q: What’s the toughest aspect of being a distance runner?
A: You have to be mentally strong and willing to give it your all every time you are running. Running long distances comes with a lot of pain (soreness), which you’ll have to endure, but the pain is a sign of you getting better within time. Running is very difficult, especially during meets. You don’t have a team in which you can get a substitute to run the rest of the race for you once you get tired. You have to push yourself the whole race because nobody really cheers you on during the race, only the beginning and in the end. Lastly, running demonstrates that you can’t cheat your way to being good. You either have a great time or you don’t. It is earned by YOUR own hard work and dedication, and it will always come down to how bad you want it.
Q: What’s the best advice you would give to someone who is looking to get into running?
A: The best advice I could possibly give someone who is interested is that you have to be willing to have patience with the results you want to obtain. Although it may not seem like it, every practice is benefitting you in a certain way that will get you to where you want to be. In addition, I would say not to cheat any workout and to go all out every chance you are able to. When you cheat the workout, you are cheating yourself and you are not getting the full effect of what is supposed to prepare you for your next competition. Also, I would mention that you have to fully prepare your body to be running. You have to make sure your body is hydrated, full of energy and that you are taking care of yourself to prevent any injuries from forming. Running is such a demanding sport that you have to be willing to prepare yourself mentally and physically. You have to be willing to test how mentally strong you are and show how much determination it takes to give everything you have in order to perform your best.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and why?
A: I would choose Steve “Pre” Prefontaine. To me, he is a legend and he made such a major impact in the running world. Steve Prefontaine knew he wasn’t meant to lose and strived for victory. He pushed himself and eventually got recruited by the University of Oregon. I’m mainly inspired by him because he did not pace himself throughout his races; he simply just ran hard from the beginning to the end and never gave up.
Q: If you had a time machine would you rather live for a week in the past or the future?
A: I would choose to live in the past for a week. I would be too scared to travel to the future because I would rather be surprised with how my life turns out rather than already know what it would be like. Living for a week in the past would make me happy and make me appreciate the moments much more than I do right now. I would go back to the week that my family and I had traveled to Disney World in Florida because that was the most fun I had ever had and experiencing it with my family makes it even more special. I would love to relive that week once again.
IF YOU GO
Tina Sierra will compete in three events at the UIL state track & field meet this weekend
WHERE: Mike A. Myers Track Complex at the University of Texas
LOCATION: 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive, Austin
Schedule of events
3200-METER RUN: 8:40 a.m., Friday, May 12
800-METER RUN: 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 13
1600-METER RUN: 8:45 p.m., Saturday, May 13