RHS senior Kevin Ramos, one of the best young runners in California, did not care for cross country at first.
He sampled the sport about six years ago because his brother, Luis – then a runner at Rubidoux – was blazing fast.
“It was like a sibling rivalry between us at the time,” Kevin said.
“I wanted to show I could do it too – and I hated it at first. But I gave it a chance.”
Good thing he did.
Kevin Ramos won a string of cross country titles, smashed a few longstanding course records, and kept stride with the best in the state and nation.
“In my opinion, his biggest win was the Mt. SAC Invitational, which is considered the most difficult course in the U.S.,” said Richard Torbert, cross country coach at Rubidoux High. At Mt. SAC, in Walnut, Calif., Kevin won by 35 seconds after climbing two divisions to face top-tier competition.
He also broke three course records this season, earned his second
California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section
Division 3 championship, and placed second in the Division 3 CIF cross country state finals on Nov. 24 in Fresno.
Kevin ranked among the Top 5 runners in California and competed Dec. 1 in the national championship meet in Portland, Ore.
“What I enjoy about the competition is the sense of excitement it gives me,” the teen said. “When I know someone is fast, I get nervous but I also get excited to be able to reach them.”
Asked if this was Kevin’s best year yet as a runner, Mr. Torbert said,
He has improved all his times from previous years and stepped forward as the team’s leader, both boys and girls.
And his academics have greatly improved to the point where he could consider most universities that might recruit him.”
The coach also praised Kevin’s work ethic and his ability to consistently train alone.
Hard work is key in cross country, Coach Torbert said, noting that improving one’s time often outweighs winning.
“Imagine running 65 miles a week for 10 weeks, and that effort lowers your time by 10 seconds – that would be considered a milestone for that athlete.”
The team’s training is grueling. Kevin and his peers log those 65 miles weekly on
rugged land: They train on hills, trails, and other challenging terrain, and compete weekly on courses in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties.
It’s a regimen that helps instill discipline, perseverance and, of course, endurance.
After he graduates, Kevin plans to attend a Division I college “where they have a great running program for me to grow. I want to be able to go to a team in college where I’m not the best.
That will help me work hard to be at the top.”
Coach Torbert said, “I believe he’s blessed with whatever DNA an elite runner needs to be great.
Most importantly, he didn’t let his gift of good genes go to waste; he has consistently trained as hard as he could.”
Today, a few years after competing with his brother in a sport he initially disliked, Kevin was asked about his favorite aspect of cross country.
“The people I’ve met along the road,” he said.
“All my coaches, friends, teammates and even random people giving me support. … It’s crazy to think if I didn’t give this sport a chance I would have never met such amazing people.”