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SPECIAL REPORT: Cibola’s Alan Ornelas able to find peace through music to relieve the weight of competitive running

The Sound of Running: A News 11 Special Report

YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - Each and every day, humans battle themselves from the daily pressures to perform - whether it be a job, academics or athletics.

For high school student-athletes, it's no different with the constant juggling of many different tasks.

Somewhere in between, there is the hope to find a happy balance.

For Cibola cross country and track athlete, Alan Ornelas, he has found a unique way to set himself free from the demands of competition for a short time after his meets. A way to release his emotions and wear them on his sleeve.

In a sport where you are always up against the clock and racing against time, it is important to find a space to go to to clear your mind.

“You have to like break the barrier in your mind. It’s like a mental thing to break it," said Ornelas. "I know that I can do it. I know that I can PR (set a personal record) each time, so I just think about all my other times and all the work I’ve put into the sport.”

Fresh off of a Yuma City Championship win in cross country in the fall, Ornelas is now putting his energy onto the track for the Raiders' track and field squad. The junior aiming to replicate the best cross country season he has had so far, which earned him the Yuma Sun's best male runner.

In Ornelas' case, his way to release from the course happens to also pay tribute to a very special person who made a large impact on him: his late grandmother.

His grandmother passed away the summer before his sophomore year - a tough pill to swallow after having such a large impact on the young teen.

"I would ride the bus in Kindergarten to her house. Whenever there would be breaks or in the summer, I would go to my grandparents' everyday and they would watch me," said Ornelas. "They were a big part of my life. It was like a hard impact when she died.”

The support being the most important. Alan reminiscing about the times she would save newspaper clips of his race times, even when he was not making noise early on in his high school journey.

"Every once in a while I’ll just go to the cemetery and just talk to my grandma. Show her all the newspapers and everything just to let her know that I’m still there," said Ornelas. "It's crazy to think now that I made it to the front of the paper."

Yet, there was still something that turned out to be more important than anything - how one item has changed the way Alan finds peace through his hard work.

The simple presence of a piano.

“She would go to the Fraternity of Eagles and this piano is from there and there was this little auction and they gave it to me," added Alan. "I just keep it because it’s something that reminds me of her.”

He didn't just keep it. He played it, and played it some more.

Now able to play several beautiful melodies - let alone self-taught.

“When Alan puts his mind to something, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish it," said his mother, Anabel Tarango. "I love his passion for everything."

Tarango also pointed to music becoming a piece of his life that he worked hard towards - just like he does in running.

“He always showed interest in music growing up," said Tarango. "He’s been playing the clarinet since about eight or nine years old. One time we had a keyboard laying around and he’s so determined that he was like ‘I’m going to learn how to play it.' Now we have the piano that holds a much more sentimental meaning."

Through it all, the underlying theme lies with Alan's drive and willingness to strive for greatness in anything he does - from lacing up his shoes, to sitting on the piano bench.

His glowing personality and character allowing him to shine wherever he goes. His ability to be multi-dimensional, opening up many doors for himself.

“I don’t want to be known for just cross country and track. I want to be known for myself.”

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson is News 11’s Sports Director.

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