By Blake Colston
Raymen Sanabria watched in amazement as Usain Bolt sprinted across the television screen. A fourth grader, Sanabria was inspired by the Jamaican’s blazing fast 100-meter performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I kept watching Usain Bolt, Noah Lyles and Tyson Gay and all these influential people,” he said. “I really wanted to run.”
At the time, his school district didn’t offer elementary track and field. So, he waited until seventh grade when he was able to join Piedmont’s middle school team.
“I could’ve given up, because I wasn’t good at first,” he said.
Sanabria kept going, though and eventually found his niche.
“I wanted to be a sprinter, but I found out that I was gifted in other areas,” he said.
Now a senior at YHS, Sanabria has come a long way since running his first sprint as a middle schooler.
He ran for Yukon’s 4X800 and 4X400 relay teams at the Class 6A state track and field meet this spring, and this fall he’s in the mix to be one of Yukon’s top cross country runners, too. As a junior, Sanabria committed to blending his skill at running shorter distances with the standard 3.1 mile cross country course. By the end of the 2022 season, he ran a personal-best time of 17:30.
“That was the first year he put 100% effort into it and it really paid off for him,” coach Matt Parent said. “We’re kind of looking for the same thing this year.”
For now, Sanabria is playing catch up. He had jaw surgery following the track and field season and lost 13 pounds while recovering. He couldn’t run for six weeks.
“We’ll get him back. He’s putting a whole lot of effort in,” Parent said.
When Sanabria was finally cleared to run again, his first mile splits were close to 10 minutes. Since then he’s trimmed off almost three minutes per mile.
“Week by week, I see my times getting better,” he said. “Next week is going to be better than this week. I keep taking it step by step. I don’t look at long-term goals.”
Yukon opens its season next Saturday, Aug. 26 at Mustang’s Harrier Invitational. In a rare twist, the meet begins after sunset at Wildhorse Park in Mustang.
“It’s definitely better than running at 1 o’clock in the heat, but also it’s kind of hard to see,” he said.
THE EXTRA MILE
The brown 1976 Ford Maverick that Sanabria drives has an interesting backstory.
“I had a girlfriend and her grandpa just had it sitting in his yard,” Sanabria said.
Sanabria bought the car, but the relationship didn’t last.
“Running is more important than women,” he said, “but we’re still friends.”