Kellie Mena Takes First Place in CIF Los Angeles Cross Country Race


Aileen Garcia, Social Media Manager

As soon as freshman Kellie Mena saw how close she was to the finish line at a cross country race, all the pain she felt in her legs throughout the race suddenly disappeared. This three point one mile run was both painful and exciting. At the end of the day, it left her with the ability to say she won the CIF LA section cross country championships with a time of 21:30. 


“I was terrified at the start of the race. Normally I talk a lot at competition before the gun goes off, but this time I went dead silent because of how scared I was,” Mena said. Although feeling all kinds of different emotions, she had the confidence and dedication needed in order to put her heart into this race. 


Mena said her immediate thought was to get to the front of the crowd when the race started in order to not get stuck with a crowd of people. Mena’s method to keep herself strong throughout the race and not drain herself was to keep track of those behind her. “I kept on looking to see how far the girl behind me was and whether I needed to slow down or not,” Mena said. At one point, the runner behind her was pretty close which motivated her to keep going even though she felt like stopping because of how weak her legs got. She wasn’t going to let anyone get ahead of her. 


At one point in the race, Mena got lost in the trail which slowed down her time a bit. She said that if it weren’t for going up the wrong hill, she definitely would have beaten the 21 minute race time. 


“At the end I just gave it all I had and died when I finished the race,” Mena said. Even after passing the finish line, she didn’t celebrate right away and couldn’t even process what was happening. “The feeling of winning didn’t set in until I was pulled aside by a reporter for the LA Times who wanted to interview me on my win. After that I didn’t know how to act or process it. All I knew is that I had won and was so proud of myself and my team for giving it our all.” 


Mena’s brother was there to cheer her on as she got close to the finish line along with others who were screaming for her. “My parents couldn’t make it, but my coach was so proud of me, which was all I really needed,” Mena said. 


A while after this impactful win, Mena had to get surgery for a tumor located in her lower stomach. “This was my first surgery but they had done so many tests the days leading up to it.I was just so tired of being in the hospital and wanted to get it over with,” Mena said. She was more scared at the start of the race than she was for the procedure. Her parents were the ones who were scared. 


“When I woke up everything hurt so much. I really couldn’t move and just stayed on the hospital bed for a day. But after 24 hours, I got up and started walking and felt ready to be discharged and be able to sleep in my bed again,” Mena said. At the moment, she just wants to start running again and be on the wrestling team, but unfortunately she will have to hold off on that. 


Mena is most definitely looking forward to the next season of wrestling since she can’t participate this year.