Ryan Salcido’s first time wearing the Sacramento State green and white didn’t go as well as he’d hoped.
The Pacheco High graduate redshirted last fall for the university’s cross country and this spring for the track team, meaning when he competed, he ran unattached. But since the USA Track and Field Junior Nationals last weekend – which he qualified for in the 10-kilometer race – officially fell as part of his sophomore year, Salcido was able to don the school’s uniform.
Salcido’s first race officially representing the Hornets went into the record books as a DNF – did not finish – after he collapsed twice down the stretch and spent the night in a hospital in Eugene, Ore. with heat exhaustion.
“They said it was 93 degrees on the track, and pretty much I was in 12th place at about 9,200 meters, about two laps to go. And ... based on what my family said, my form really messed up, then all of a sudden I started leaning back and I fell over. I had 600 or 700 meters left, and I just fell over. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to finish. I got up, tried to go, and fell over again.”
When the track officials reached his side, the first words out of his mouth were, “I want to finish the race.” But his request was denied and he was shipped off for medical attention. Salcido said it was just heat exhaustion, but he is still, on the recommendation of medical professionals in Eugene, following up with his doctor in Sacramento to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Salcido’s family was on hand at Hayward Field and watched the whole thing unfold.
“It was a tough break for him, but more important he is physically OK,” said Baldo Salcido, Ryan’s father, via email. “As parents we were certainly concerned and scared when we saw him collapse towards the end of the race. It was so sudden, but heat exhaustion and all of the other physical factors took their toll on him and others.”
The run was just Salcido’s third 10-kilometer race – he ran two of them in the Bay Area earlier this season, running one of them in 32 minutes, 6.74 seconds to fall under the qualifying time of 32:20. But the weather in Eugene was far different from his two runs in California.
“I was used to running 10Ks in 70-degree weather, all cloudy and overcast,” Salcido said. “Then I go to Oregon and it was sunny and hot.”
Salcido competed in just a few events this year, taking third in the 5K at the Beach Invitational on April 20 in Cerritos. Partway through the season, his coach asked him if he was interested in the 10K, an event for which the Hornets had no dedicated runners.
“I like the 10K compared to other races. The mile (1,500 meters) seem way too quick. I’m more of a sitting back and waiting runner. I like not having to focus all the time. You try to back off and not worry so much, but in the mile you have to stay up there. I’m not that quick. I like to work my way up. I didn’t start in the front in any of my races. Five and 10ks are more my event. They didn’t have those in high school.”
Salcido, who graduated from Pacheco High in 2013, set a high standard in the school’s first few years, becoming the Panthers’ first state qualifier in any sport during his senior cross country season. His school record of 9:32 in the 3,200 still stands, but he said he has come close to beating those times as part of his 10K runs in the last year. He has increased his weekly mileage from about 55 miles during his high school years to about 75 during the cross country season and about 80 during the track season.
“I think I learned a lot. 10Ks are going to be longer than what I do in cross country by more than a mile, and that helps me mentally,” he said. “I’m learning by what happened during this race. It should make me a little stronger, a little more cautious, learning what I can and can’t do. I think I was going to get a personal record if I finished that race. Knowing what I went through, I think it’s going to help me overall in improving my times.”
For now, Salcido is concentrating on making the top seven – the competition squad – for the cross country team. His personal best in the 8K, which the cross country team runs, is 25:51, and he thinks to make the top squad, he’ll need to better that by about a minute.
“Technically that’s my recorded 8K PR,” he said, “but during my 10Ks my coach told me I beat that by a few seconds.”