Justin Hazell of El Camino Real stamped himself as a contender to win a state championship in Division I cross country after recording the fastest time at the Woodbridge Invitational on Saturday.
He ran 13:59.5 for the three-mile course, defeating some of the best runners in California.
Hazell, a senior, won the City Section individual title last season and won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the City track finals. But his performance on Saturday shows much improvement.
El Camino Real Coach Jun Reichl credits Hazell’s work ethic for his steady growth.
“Honestly, I can’t think of a day he’s missed practice in the last four years,” he said. “He’s so consistent. I’ve relied on him building up his mileage gradually. We’ve focused more on doing faster workouts and running faster when it counts rather than running more.
“His mentality is phenomenal. He doesn’t set limits on himself. He’s the kind of kid if he believes he’s going to do something, he’s going to achieve it because he spends time visualizing.”
Hazell pulled away in the final 100 meters after running a 4:36 first mile, Reichl said.
“I knew he could do it, but it was a big statement,” Reichl said.
Hazell has been running for 10 years.
“When I was little, I was trying different sports, and I tried running and stuck with it,” Hazell said.