Building a legacy in track before leaving high school


Senior Zenen Cardenas exercises in practice to maintain a healthy diet before the state-qualifying meet Friday.

By Isabela Casimiro, Perspectives Editor

All in motivation to beat one of his track friends, senior Zenen Cardenas broke track records on the Upstate 8 conference meet May 10 at Streamwood High School.“I ran with one of my track buddies, Charlie Wade, who’s ranked #1 in the state right now,” Cardenas said. “We met sophomore year, and now we’re here our senior year, and we got to race one last time before the state qualifying meet, so I was motivated to beat him.”The state qualifying meet is Friday and on Saturday is the preliminary state meet followed by the finals Sunday.Even to prepare for the Upstate 8 Conference meet, Cardenas was focused on beating Wade.“I was just super hyped because I got to race Charlie again,” Cardenas said. “I was mostly trying to stay healthy, as I’ve got a really bad cold right now.”Breaking the track record has been one of his goals throughout high school.
“When my coach had let me know I had broken it,” Cardenas said. “I was super happy, as it was a goal I had in freshman year.”
Cardenas had almost broken the record before so many of his team members weren’t as surprised.
“My head coach was super excited,” Cardenas said. “But a lot of the team wasn’t fazed. They know that this is just one race and that the record won’t stand long at all, as I’m going to break it again.”
To Cardenas, breaking the record is just the first step.
“While it’s super cool (to break the record), it’s just one step in a long season. I’ve still got my qualifying meet, as well as the state,  meet, so there’s a lot to do still,” Cardenas said. “So in the long run, not much, but it’s a good starting point to get the end of the year momentum going.”
His motivation to run in track was the upperclassmen that he has had throughout the years.
“The upperclassmen in years past have been my sight for motivation and have taught me a lot about what I need to know,” Cardenas said.
Originally, Cardenas was planning on continuing track with the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) but was denied.
“I’m planning on applying (to the USAFA) again next year, hopefully getting accepted my second time through, and if I do, I’ve already talked to the coach about running there,” Cardenas said. “Until then, I just plan on running on my own, unless this upcoming fall I can find a college that I can afford that will let me run at the level I wish to.”
Before leaving high school, Cardenas encourages underclassmen to do what they love.
“Just do it. People will tell you that you can’t do something, and you just have to look them in the eyes, say  ‘okay,’ and do it anyway. Prove to your haters that they’re wrong. Take the hate, and do something with it,” Cardenas said. “Like I said, the upperclassmen in years past have been where my motivation came from, but it wasn’t a positive motivation; it was things like them telling me that I couldn’t run what I thought I could, or them telling me that no one has ever run that fast. Just do it, and let everyone watch in awe.”