This story first appeared in the October 2017 edition of The Hilltop.
Ruben Salvador-Benavides ran with persistence and with the hope of making the cut for his high school soccer team, but his mile time didn’t meet the requirements, and he didn’t garner a spot on the team.
That was when he decided to join his high school cross country team as a senior with the intention of improving his mile time and earning a spot on the soccer team.
He stuck with cross country all year long and changed his mind about soccer.
“I didn’t want to try for soccer again,” he said. “I wasn’t too good with running, but I got better.”
As a new runner, Salvador-Benavides found the transition to Corban’s cross country team to be a bit overwhelming.
“It was a challenge, and, if it weren’t for my teammates and coaches, I wouldn’t have improved,” he said.
Head Coach Norm Berney said he took notice of Salvador-Benavides’ improvement.
“Ruben has become one of our best runners through hard work and dedication,” Berney said. “No matter how hard the workout, he always has a smile and he encourages his teammates.”
“He’s a very hard worker,” teammate Kristina Yzaguirre said. “I think his work ethic ties into his accomplishments. His freshman year amazed us all in what he accomplished. He stays disciplined to what he needs to do and keeps his eyes focused on bettering himself.”
Despite the challenges of transitioning to a college team, Salvador-Benavides still found a place of belonging.
“I enjoy the Christ-centered culture,” he said. “They put more of an emphasis on God.”
On the team, Drew Larabee notes Salvador-Benavides’ commitment to Christ in running. Larabee also shows support for him and sees Christ embedded in him.
“I’m so thankful that Ruben is on our team,” Larabee said. “He continually strives to become the best runner he can be while keeping focused on who he’s running for, and I believe God has blessed his efforts to steward the gift he has been given.”
“Cross country is a combination of individual commitment and developing a never-give-up attitude,” Berney said. “He exemplifies these traits and his commitment to Christ is shown through his running and testimony.”
Even at meets, Salvador-Benavides notices the opposing cross country teams’ intrigue with Corban’s Christ-centered team.
“When we run, other schools notice how we act, through our sportsmanship,” he said. “They notice our
As much as he appreciates the Christian culture in his team, he still struggles with the contrast between running and faith.
“Sometimes I can be prideful,” he said. “When I have bad days or bad races, I think to myself, ‘Why wouldn’t God help me run faster?’”
Amid these negative thoughts, Salvador-Benavides remembers who he runs for.
“I find my motivation through Christ,” he said. “I don’t run for myself. I run for Christ. I do everything for Him.”