Timing didn’t seem to be on Lakewood High cross country star Aiden Alegria’s side when COVID-19 concerns shut down the Long Beach Unified School District last month.
Alegria had high hopes for his senior track season after he easily recorded personal bests in the one and two-mile races during training just days before the season was canceled. His times of under 4:30 and 9:40, respectively, would’ve qualified him for CIF competition.
“I was going to try and bank my entire career on this last season because I had such good potential,” Alegria said. “I figured I could try and go for a different, bigger school. But when the closure hit, I didn’t have time to make those times anymore. So, I just signed with Davis & Elkins.”
Davis & Elkins College is a small private liberal arts school in West Virginia with about 800 students on campus. Alegria signed his National Letter of Intent last month, and said he’s staying positive and ready for whatever the future brings.
We talked to Alegria this week about how he’s moving forward…
Question: Had you already been in contact with Davis & Elkins College before the closures?
Alegria: Yes. I was in contact with a couple other schools in Washington and Kansas, but they weren’t offering me anything that was worth money. I actually got my big offer from Davis & Elkins right before the closure. When (Lakewood HS) closed, I was like ‘Okay, this is the school I’m going with now.’
Q: Were you able to visit campus?
A: I wasn’t able to go out there and visit because the closure happened right around the time we would have been able to go.
Q: Does it make you nervous going out there for the first time without seeing it?
A: Oh, definitely. It’s a completely different environment. Obviously, I’m here in California where it’s sunny all the time and it’s all flat. West Virginia is totally different. It’s three hours from the airport to the school, and it’s in a national forest.
Q: How were you feeling when when you signed your NLI at home?
A: At first I was kind of mad because I was thinking to myself that I could’ve gone to a Division I school. I could’ve gotten more money if I had run the track season. But I actually looked into it and (Davis & Elkins) is more competitive than the Division I schools I was going to try and go to. So it’s pretty good deal.
Q: What are you doing lately in terms of training?
A: It’s just a hollow shell of what my track season would have been, so I’m kind of just doing normal runs. Like just an easy six miles. I’m pretty much just counting down to hopefully start cross country training (with Lakewood teammates) in June… the plan is to go to West Virginia in the first week of August.
Q: Are you more nervous about going out of state for college because of COVID-19 concerns?
A: I don’t have a special graduation ceremony to look forward to, and that makes (leaving) seem a lot closer so I’m a lot more focused on the fear of moving out. I’m kind of just thrown into the reality that I have to leave now.
Q: Do you take any solace in that you’re not alone and everyone is in uncharted territory right now?
A: Yes, definitely. The track community posts on Instagram are really uplifting. When I stopped workouts I was super upset. I stopped running for a little bit because my parents told me I couldn’t go outside. It was pretty bad for me.
Q: When did your parents let you get back outside for runs?
A: Probably like two weeks ago. I run past Heartwell Park and sometimes to the riverbed. I run out of my way to avoid people because that was kind of the condition for my parents to let me out for runs. I tried to run with a mask on the first time, but it was horrible.
Q: Let’s say that LBUSD has some kind of 2020 graduation ceremony on Homecoming weekend in the fall… Would you consider coming back from West Virginia for something like that?
A: Oh, totally. I would come back in a heartbeat. 100 percent. It’s just so worth it. It’s a memory that I can’t make up. I would always go out of my way for something like that.