Mosqueda Prefers to Start as Leader of the Pack

Sylvia Mosqueda says she might decide one day to run a race the way others do: relaxed, controlled and cautious.

But for now, Mosqueda, a 23-year-old Alhambra resident, is content with her rocket-like starts, tearing out at a blistering pace, zipping through the early miles in lickety-split times.

No matter the consequences.

Last Sunday, at the Fiesta 5,000 in San Clemente, Mosqueda gained a 50-yard lead on the women’s field, passing the first mile in 4 minutes 40 seconds--well ahead of world-record pace.


But less than a mile later, Mosqueda faded. After being passed on a hill by Lisa Weidenbach, a top U.S. road racer, Mosqueda eventually finished second, 20 seconds behind in 16:20.

“At a half mile, it seemed like she was 100 yards in front of me,” Weidenbach said. “I mean, she was ahead of my husband (Bill, who finished seventh among elite men in 14:50).”

Apparently, this has become a somewhat common outcome for Mosqueda.

Some say Mosqueda--who because of her supercharged starts has been known to drop out in the later stages of some races--has no sense of pace, no sense of distance, or simply, no sense.


Why, her critics ask, doesn’t she try a more conservative strategy?

“I do love to go out hard. I love that feeling,” Mosqueda said. “And I think one year I’ll learn to hold (the fast pace) the whole way. But that’s one of my good faults.

“I’ll have to learn to run in the pack, surge in the middle or use my speed at the end. But it’s hard. I get so impatient running slow. I have to learn to relax and run with the pack.”

Mosqueda acknowledged that going out in 4:40 at San Clemente wasn’t the best idea, especially because she had returned from Europe only four days before and still felt the effects of jet lag. Still, she believes her downfall is not in setting a fast pace, but the inability to relax when doing so.


“If I learn how to relax, I’ll do well,” she said. “When I don’t relax, I rig up (tighten up) and run horrible.”

Of course, there have been times when despite setting a very fast pace, Mosqueda held on to win. At the Philadelphia Half-Marathon last September, Mosqueda went through the first 10K in 32:20 and won. The scenario was much the same when she won the Crecent City Classic this year.

But, many will point out, it was good ol’ conservative pacing that helped her set the women’s collegiate record in the 10,000 (32:28) at the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. championships last year.

“If you look at the NCAA race, Sylvia hit the first mile at 5:09, the second at 5:10, the third at 5:10,” said Greg Ryan, who coached Mosqueda at East L.A. College and Cal State L.A. “She can run great that way.”


Although Ryan no longer coaches Mosqueda--coach and runner decided a change might be good for both of them--Ryan said he considers Mosqueda a tremendous talent, but at the same time, a challenging puzzle.

“She always had her own ideas (concerning training and racing),” Ryan said.

Said Mosqueda: “You’re not gonna run a fast time unless you go for it from the gun and take off. The women are too tactical most of the time. I think if you want to go to win a race, fine, run tactical. But if you want to run fast, you’ve got to go for it.”

Add Mosqueda: Next stop for Mosqueda might be the Jack In The Box Invitational track and field meet, Aug. 6 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.


Mosqueda is entered in the women’s mile along with PattiSue Plumer, who two weeks ago broke Mary Slaney’s U.S. record in the 5,000; Suzy Favor, a five-time NCAA champion at 1,500 meters, Cal State Northridge All-American Darcy Arreola, and Sabrina Dornhoefer, a six-time All-American at Missouri.

Slaney, who was originally expected to run, is, unlikely to compete for the rest of the summer because of severe tendinitis in her Achilles’ tendon, said Dr. James Stanley, her doctor.

Add invitational:

The final event of the twilight meet will be the men’s mile, scheduled for 7 p.m. The field includes three Olympians--former UC Irvine great Steve Scott, the U.S. record-holder in the event at 3:47.69, Jim Spivey and Doug Padilla--as well as TAC champion Terrence Herrington of Clemson and Tim Hacker of Athletics West.


Finally, the OC connection? With the recent signings of several Orange County track and field athletes--including Mater Dei’s Mike Nielsen, the county’s fastest prep miler--UC Irvine’s track and field program finally is getting a home-town atmosphere.

This is something Irvine Coach Vince O’Boyle couldn’t be happier about.

When O’Boyle left Citrus College to take over the Irvine program in 1982, he had a difficult time trying to convince top area athletes that Irvine was the place to go. Many of those O’Boyle recruited preferred better-known programs, such as UCLA, or programs outside the county.

Now that seems to be changing.


“People aren’t embarrassed to stay home anymore,” said O’Boyle, who has been named conference coach of the year in men’s or women’s cross-country nine times in his six years.

“They’re finding they don’t have to go to a UCLA or a Cal to run at the NCAA level.”

At Irvine, Nielsen will join last year’s top distance recruit, Newport Harbor’s Jim Geerlings, the county’s fastest miler from 1988. Other recent signees include Edison’s Doug Nichols, The Times’ boys’ track athlete of the year, Woodbridge’s Louie Muniz and Westminster’s Shelly Tochluk.

Race Schedule


Thursday: College of the Canyons 5K cross-country series. College of the Canyons, Valencia. 7 p.m. Very challenging course. Call (805) 944-2511.

Paramount Ranch Cross-Country 2- and 3-mile Gran Prix, 6:30 p.m., Paramount Ranch, Agoura. For more information, call (818) 992-6219.

U.S. National Masters track and field championships. San Diego, Thursday through Sunday. For more information, call (619) 582-3316.

Legg Lake 5K Carrera de Noche. Legg Lake, South El Monte, 6:30 p.m. For information, call (213) 949-0394.


Saturday: Eighth Cypress 5 & 10K. 7:30 a.m. Starts at Orange and Grindley streets, Cypress. Call 229-6780.

Sunday: Running Wild Downhill Mile. College of the Canyons, Valencia. 8 a.m. One-mile race with elevation loss of 200 feet.

Tuesday: Corona del Mar Fun Run. 6 p.m. Three-mile cross-country course in the Upper Newport Back Bay, on Back Bay Road, Newport Beach. 95% dirt and grass surfaces. For more information, call 644-5026.