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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Discipline over motivation: Yuridia Corona’s journey on the track

The distance runner shows promise after making her personal record on April 13
Gustavo Hernandez
Yuridia Corona, a third-year San Francisco State University student athlete, poses at Cox Stadium on April 18, 2024. Corona, a distance runner, achieved a personal record of completing one mile in 4 minutes and 58 seconds on April 13..” (Gustavo Hernandez /Golden Gate Xpress)

Labored breath rushes in and out as Yuridia Corona focuses on her breathing while looking down at her feet. The goal — to beat her previous score — dawns over her thoughts every time she sets herself to run around the track.

Walking up to the line with shaking feet beneath the track, Corona touches her head, chest,  left, then right shoulder, signing the cross.

On your mark. Get set. Bang.

The sound of the starting pistol fills the stadium, leaving only dust, as the distance runner takes off.

“I feel like if I miss a step or I don’t do that [her three step routine], it’s going to be bad,” said Corona, in regard to entering her athletic zone. “As an athlete, you need to have certain routines to get yourself in the zone. It has to be consistent.”

The day before a meet, Corona feels her heart pumping out of her chest. She imagines and creates scenarios in her head, mentally preparing for any situation that could happen.

Three eggs, toast, bacon, sausage and juice – a breakfast for champions. Corona slips on her shoes, grabs her bag and drives to campus on the day of the race. Bad Bunny blasts through the speakers of her white Prius on her way to the meet.

Before transferring to San Francisco State University, Corona played soccer at City College of San Francisco. This is her first time being a distance runner on a track and field team.

Corona sprinted head first into track and field, not knowing a lot about the sport or even that four laps around the track equals a mile.

On April 13, the distance runner placed sixth at Leopard Distance Carnival, running a full mile in four minutes and 58 seconds. This accomplishment is her personal record. Corona ranked seventh place on March 23 at the PLNU Collegiate Invitational, running 800 meters in two minutes and 27 seconds.

“I didn’t think I could do those accomplishments, to be honest,” Corona said. “Every time I get on the track, whether it’s on the actual race day or even workout days.”

Corona said she surprised herself when she set her personal record, explaining that all she had to do was run two seconds faster to make conference time. To achieve this, she had to run a half-mile (800 meters) in two minutes and 22 seconds.

“I think I have a sprint in me that other girls don’t have,” Corona said. “I think that’s just from soccer. I think everyone is fast in their own way. Every athlete has their strength and their weakness.”

Corona is also only three seconds away from making conference time with the mile, which is four minutes and 55 seconds. Her goal is to make conference in the 800-meter and 1500-meter runs.

“Mentally, this sport is really tough, so I’m trying to accomplish getting stronger mentally as well,” Corona said. “I think I’m doing a pretty good job of staying disciplined and knowing that running two or four laps is going to hurt. Just knowing that pain is good in a way.”

Corona was introduced to sports at 6 years old. Her mother placed her in ballet, moving on to tap and jazz dance. Then, she did gymnastics and swimming. When her little brother was born, her extracurricular activities became too expensive.

At age 13, Corona played bubble soccer at Golden Gate Park. After that day, she fell in love with the sport.

“Everything that I learned through soccer has really been a good translator here on the track,” Corona said.

Yuridia Corona, a third-year San Francisco State University student athlete, poses at Cox Stadium on April 18, 2024. Corona, a distance runner, achieved a personal record of completing one mile in 4 minutes and 58 seconds on April 13..” (Gustavo Hernandez /Golden Gate Xpress) (Gustavo Hernandez)

The distance runner still plays soccer recreationally; last semester, she played up to four times a week. She continues to play indoor soccer on Mondays and Sundays.

Off the track, Corona enjoys hanging out with her sorority sisters. The distance runner is a member of Sigma Pi Alpha. With a major in kinesiology and a minor in athletic coaching, Corona’s free time is often focused on schoolwork. But the San Francisco native also enjoys being with her family.

Corona is a big advocate of learning something new every day. Originally, she never understood why people would run for fun, but now she loves track and field. At one of her meets, she found herself “fangirling” over other teams and their accomplishments on the track.

“Discipline over motivation” is another big part of Corona’s work ethic. Her late uncle, who passed away when she was 15, introduced her to the phrase.

Corona would go to Mexico once a year during summer. Her uncle also filled in the grandpa’s shoes in the family — being Corona’s grandma’s brother. Corona said he was positive and caring.

“It was really tough on me but ever since he passed away, I feel like I grew spiritually,” Corona said. “Even on the track, when I’m done with the race, I always think about him.”

The distance runner still checks in on his three daughters, telling them of her achievements on the team and they tell Corona her uncle would be very proud of her.

Corona’s parents also inspire her. Athletically, she said her dad inspires her and wants her to have fun with whatever she does. He remains Corona’s inspiration to have fun when playing sports. Even if she is down, he has taught her to have a good time.

Mentally, her mom inspires her to have discipline and be a hard-worker.

“We never have an excuse to say no,” Corona said. “My mom loves to work overtime and even sometimes when she’s like, ‘I feel tired,’ she’s like, ‘Oh wait, I have to do it.’ My number one biggest inspiration is my mother.”

Corona also aims to be a good role model for her little brother.

“I want him to be like me or be better than me,” said Corona regarding her brother. “I want him to be a good example and I want to be that example for him.”

Lately, ‘80s music has been of interest to the team, especially the Wham! song, “Careless Whisper”’s notable beginning lines connected players on whether or not to laugh — because of a popular meme —— or groove to the music.

Corona said the best part about being on a team is being there for other people on and off the track.

“You receive a lot of support being on a team and even on tough days when I have no motivation this team shows you to stay disciplined no matter what,” Corona said.

Corona has always looked up to her teammates, a skill she has taken with her throughout her sports career.

Her teammate, Sydney Seyer, dorms with her when traveling for competitions. Seyer has been on the team since her freshman year at SFSU. Now a junior, the business management major said that Corona is hardworking, friendly and outgoing.

“With all the traveling we’ve been doing this season, it’s been really beneficial because we get to know each other,” Seyer said. “It’s been fun getting to know her and see her progress this season.”

Julia Pioroda is another teammate of Corona, who is also a distance runner. Piroada said the team is like a family and the support is “unreal.”

“Yuridia is a very caring person and she will also support you in any way, no matter what,” Pioroda said. “Teammate-wise, she’ll do anything to bring you up, especially when you feel down. She can be a support system.”

Joining the team started when Corona was doing extra credit for a kinesiology course. As she was running her mile, someone from the men’s track and field team said more runners were wanted for the women’s team.

Sierra Brill, the assistant coach for both track teams, was interested in recruiting Corona. Brill said Corona has been improving every week in her short time on the team.

“I think one of Yuridia’s strengths is that she’s a natural competitor,” Brill said. “She cares about the time that she’s running and, in practice, knows what she should be running based on skill but when it comes to a race, her instincts take over and she’s so competitive. She’s got a lot of heart. She fights for it.”

The distance runner was supposed to join in the fall, but she only made it to one practice as she had a lot on her schedule already. This semester, she is in full swing on the team, beating her score by mere seconds every time she competes.

“She’s such a hard worker. I think she’s one of the hardest workers out here,” Brill said. “She does so much for all the people around her.”

Corona believes Brill’s work for both track teams was impactful to her story. The distance runner said Brill’s dedication and passion for coaching are evident in her work as an assistant coach. 

“Without Sierra’s excellent coaching, I would not have achieved the level of success I have in the sport of track and field,” Corona said.

There was a two-week testing period where Corona joined the other Gators in their workout sessions.

“Instead of them saying, ‘you have to hit a certain time on the mile,’ it was more,’ let’s see how this athlete can communicate with her coaches, teammates — let’s see how much this athlete can show up for herself,’ Corona said.

With her current achievements, Corona has proven her dedication to the team. When competing, the distance runner said don’t let the race control you, but rather stay in control.

“I know damn well those pros don’t want to run as fast as they do,” Corona said. “I know that they feel the pain, but learning to find fun in the pain is something I learned.”

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About the Contributors
Natalie Metcalf
Natalie Metcalf, Staff Reporter
Natalie Metcalf (she/her) is a staff reporter from the Golden Gate Xpress. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing. She was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles. Metcalf has previously worked as The Valley Life editor at The Valley Star, the independent student newspaper at Los Angeles Valley College. During her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, writing poetry and making themed Spotify playlists.
Gustavo Hernandez
Gustavo Hernandez, Photographer
Gustavo Hernandez (he/him) is a staff photographer for golden gate xpress. He is double majoring in journalism (photojournalism) and BECA. He currently lives in a San Francisco where you can catch him dodging potholes on his white Vespa. He has contributed freelance photo stories for Mission Local with the ambition for more future published works.

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