By: John Raffel
Big Rapids' Clark Ruiz bids to be on of Division 2's top runners
Clark Ruiz is hoping to grab some of the spotlight in the state cross country scene this season. He has already established himself as one of the top runners on this side of the state.
Chase Gibson has had the fortune of being Ruiz's coach and likes where the Cardinal junior is at right now, despite the fact that it's early in the season.
“His goal is to break 15 at state,” Gibson said. “It's a goal I believe he can reach and hopefully make the top three at the state finals. He does all the small things correctly. He gets the right amount of sleep. He gets the right nutrition in. He drinks water and keeps doing all the small things right. That helps him in his running.”
It's his third varsity season, and Ruiz is been happy with what he accomplished his previous two seasons.
“It's been a solid foundation for my junior and senior year,” he said. “I'm pretty proud of them. We made it to state as a team, and we qualified individually and made all-state last year; I can't complain.”
Ruiz was 19th at the Division 2 state finals last season in 16:03.
“That was a good performance; I was happy I got all-state for the second year in a row,” he said.
Ruiz ran a 15:20 in a 5K at a Traverse City area event during the summer. The team is basically back entirely from a year ago.
“Right now I'm hoping to break 15:30,” he said. “The big goal for the season is getting the team to qualify for the state finals and hopefully get a top 10 at state and all-academic for the team.
“As an individual, I'd like to contend for the state title. My goal for regionals is 15:05 and my goal for state is probably around 14:50 to 14:55.”
Having broken his personal record already from a year ago, Ruiz likes the progress he's been making.
“I'd like to think I'm more of a consistent runner,” he said. “Right now, my first mile has been the strongest. I want to change that to where my last mile, last 1,000 meters, is my strongest. That's my goal.”
The Cardinals are focusing on regional opponents Cedar Springs and Cadillac, along with Forest Hills Northern, which is not in the region, as teams to beat in the postseason.