Steeplechase record-holder unfazed by defining moment

Sophomore track athlete Adriana Calva has always been fast, even as a 7-year-old soccer player sprinting around the field and dashing past the defense.

Fully aware of the natural speed she possessed, Calva decided to try out track and field her freshman year at Lynwood High School. She knew she wanted to commit to track and field after her head coach told her that he saw something in her.

Calva’s high school track coach must’ve seen the record-breaking potential, because Calva set a personal and school record at the Johnny Mathis Invitational Feb. 27.

Calva walked to her line not knowing that in 11 minutes and 10 seconds she would become the school-record holder for the steeplechase. Calva definitely did not expect to crush SF State’s previous steeplechase record, held by Joanna Luk since 2003, by 11 seconds.

“It wasn’t until the last three laps when I knew I had a chance,” Calva said. “I heard on the speaker, ‘She really has a chance of beating the record.’ I kept hearing, ‘She really has a chance,’ and I just went for it.”

Leading up to the race, Calva felt that she wasn’t in top shape, especially early in the season, so she expected to finish with an 11:45 time. Calva said during the race she felt comfortable with her pace. She didn’t think she was close to the 11:10 mark.

Calva remained humble and brushed off the fact that she’s now the steeplechase record-holder.

“I don’t try to think much of it,” Calva said. “I’m not trying to focus on that. I don’t want to get too cocky. I’m just trying to do my running.”

Sophomore track athlete Jackie Foley was also part of the record-breaking moment, finishing with the third-fastest time in school history. Foley said sharing that moment with Calva was amazing, especially since they’ve been running together since their freshmen year.

Adriana Calva genuinely strikes a pose on the Cox Stadium finish line, where she set a new school record during the Johnny Mathis Invitation track meet back in February. (Taylor Reyes / Xpress

Adriana Calva genuinely strikes a pose on the Cox Stadium finish line, where she set a new school record during the Johnny Mathis Invitation track meet back in February. (Taylor Reyes / Xpress

“Getting to see her now and how much she’s improved is an inspiration,” Foley said. “I know that, without her, my kick at the end wouldn’t be as strong. She’s a good lead pack to get me through the race.”

Foley enjoys and loves the dynamic of the three steeplechasers – herself, Calva and Jessica Betancourt. She said she looks forward to seeing Calva improve and excel for the rest of the season.

“I see a confidence that grows inside of her and that makes me excited, makes me want to help her get better,” Foley said. “I just have to push her because she needs someone to push her, so that’s the goal.”

The Johnny Mathis Invitational, one of two home track meets for SF State, was supposed to be just another track meet. No one anticipated what would be a record-breaking day, including head coach Kendra Reimer, who said the feats were a “pleasant surprise.”

“When they’re racing above expectations it’s a gift, so I’m very pleased,” Reimer said.

The sky is the limit for Calva. Reimer hopes she can qualify for nationals this year and become an All-American.

Reimer had high praise for Calva and the hard work ethic she’s displayed since arriving at SF State.

“She’s the epitome of what any of our track athletes can do if they have the dedication and believe in their coaches and what we’re doing,” Reimer said. “She’s the storybook fairytale of where hard work can get you. Track and field is one of those sports where, if you work really hard, then you can go far with it. It’s all about your individual effort that helps the team. It’s been awesome to watch her go.”

Calva already holds the school record, but she’s ready to one-up herself.

“I want to keep pushing for a better record,” Calva said.

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