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The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

Derek Ynfante’s race beyond the track

Aidan Renteria
Isaiah Lares (left), Mateo Martinez (center) and Derrick Ynfante (right) compete in the 400, a long lap race, against Charter Oak. Ynfante took the lead as Lares and Martinez followed closely behind him.

Derek Ynfante has always had an affinity for running ever since he first joined track in middle school after being convinced by his mother, who ran track from middle school to college. Ynfante has competed in approximately 100 competitions both track and cross country in his six years of running. Now in his senior year, Ynfante is one of the top three runners in the San Gabriel Valley and is beginning to receive offers from colleges. 

Ynfante transferred from Charter Oak before his junior year after being impressed by the community he saw in West Covina’s track team. However, he had carried expectations of himself that burdened him more than pushing him. 

“He was really hard himself and it was getting in the way of his running,” said track coach, Daniel Mercado. 

Ynfante and Martinez run neck and neck in the 800, a half mile race, together. Martinez looked over to Ynfante to see how he was pacing himself. The 800 would have almost been a tie as Ynfante had barely beat Martinez.
(Aidan Renteria)

Ynfante had to strengthen his mentality if he wanted to continue running track. He began focusing more on running the races instead of running for a time and saw a major difference when he stopped running for himself and started running for his team. 

“Getting to West Covina I had a team. I had a family I was working with … I feel like a lot of my mentality has slowly grown up and changed,” said Ynfante.

Ynfante wants to make sure his team continues to push themselves even after he graduates. Amongst his teammates, Ynfante built a bond with junior Isaiah Lares and sophomore Mateo Martinez through track. Ynfante and Lares competed in countless races together and pushed each other during their races. Lares and Ynfante would exchange tips and pace each other during their races. 

“We have been racing with each other since pretty much day one and honestly me and him work together, we would pace off each other, we would have talks about strategies we would wanna use during races,” said Ynfante. 

Ynfante had begun encouraging Martinez and pushing him to become a better athlete after Martinez had reminded Ynfante of himself when he first began and has been training Martinez because of it. During senior night, Ynfante made sure to pace Martinez and push him into beating him. 

Ynfante has a personal tradition of keeping all the pins from his cross country competitions. He decided to keep the pins on his shirt to remind him how far he has come. (Aidan Renteria)

“I’m really proud of how far Martinez has come as an athlete. I was extremely happy when I heard people cheering him on during the race,” said Ynfante.

Ynfante originally didn’t plan to continue track in college as he wanted to pursue graphic design; however,  changed his mind after getting an offer from Cal Poly Pomona. 

“Something about that school, going and talking to the coaches, meeting them, going around the school, I felt some sort of connection because I think this is where I can continue doing graphic design, following my education, and still doing what I love, which is running,” said Ynfante. 

At Cal Poly Pomona, Ynfante will be pushed and inspired as he had done for others his senior year. He desires to push himself further in college in order to attempt going to the Olympics after being inspired by previous Olympic Runner, Nick Symmonds. Nick Symmonds had ran the 800, a half mile race, in one minute and forty-five seconds. Ynfante had ran the 800 in one minute and fifty-five seconds. 

“My dream was to race faster than him, run a fast 800 time and run around a one-fifty-five which I did,” said Ynfante.

Receiving 18 patches for track and cross country and offers from various colleges, gave  Ynfante the confidence to pursue his summer dream of competing in the Olympics. Throughout his senior year, Ynfante had always thought of one quote:

Ynfante has a quote he thinks about during his races from an Olympic runner, Steve Prefontaine: “It’s not who’s the best, it’s who can take the most pain.”


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