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Practice makes Perez
When he was a freshman at River Valley High school, Tony Perez yearned for the gridiron.
His mom had a simple answer for his football dreams — no.
"I wanted to play football for River Valley and she told me no," Perez said. "So I had to go run cross country."
As usual, it turned out that mother knew best.
This season, Perez, who has run for Sutter High since his sophomore year, clinched the Butte View League individual title and parlayed a 12th-place finish in the Northern Section Championships into his second straight appearance in the CIF State Cross Country Championships.
"I'm extremely happy. If I had my way, I would have played football and not accomplished as much," Perez said. "I have to thank my mom for that."
And for the sport he begrudgingly joined as an alternative, there is now one more accomplishment for the successful senior — Appeal Democrat All-Area Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Perez was the leader of a strong Huskies team, which used his individual finish of 16 minutes, 17 seconds to help attain a fourth-consecutive Butte View League title at the league championships on November 5th.
It was the best way to top a day where his individual title helped avenge his 38-second loss in 2007, when he finished second to Wheatland's Martin Rodriguez.
This season, Perez's time was 30 seconds faster than Rodriguez's '07 (16:47) mark and nearly a minute quicker than Eric Faires (17:13), his biggest rival this year and another member of the rival Pirates.
"I felt on top of the world," Perez said. "I am happy my team won BVL for the fourth year in a row."
Following his triumph at the BVL finals, he went on to finish the section championship in 17:08, which was 24 seconds and six places better than he finished in 2007.
Then at the state meet, Perez finished 48th out of 152 runners in the Division IV boys race with a time of 16:51, which — in continuing with the theme of improvement from his junior to senior year — was 1:04 faster than his 2007 time.
All these accomplishments come from a strong practice regimen which started with summer workouts and continued into the school year, when Perez and teammate Bentley Nunes would go on morning runs in addition to the scheduled afternoon practices, Sutter coach Tammy O'Neill said.
"He would set high goals, then he would go out and do what he needed to do to achieve them," O'Neill said.
And now, after finishing an incredible season, he has a new goal — Tackling the hills of San Francisco. Perez will attend San Francisco State next year and run for the Gators.
"He's a good kid, he works really hard," O'Neill said. "Any coach or any college would be happy to have him."