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Maturity guides Daniel De La Torre to successful track season

La Salle High senior runner enjoys banner season that includes accolades, personal growth

July 31, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

Maybe the biggest difference between successful campaigns book marked with disappointing finishes was a slight, but important, shift in attitude for La Salle High senior Daniel De La Torre.

Last year at this time, De La Torre was a 17-year-old filled with disbelief after finishing ninth in the 1,600-meters and fourth in the 3,200 at the 2012 CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis.

His hopes for a state title faded into the sweltering 100-degree heat.

The conclusion to his junior season proved to be a bitter pill, as De La Torre admitted having trouble resting during a month-long summer break.

"I couldn't sleep. That finish at state was something I thought about for a long time," De La Torre said. "When you work so hard for so long and it doesn't go your way, it's hard to accept."

An angst-filled summer gave way slowly.

"It was tough at times because Daniel wants to win, wants to be the best at everything and sometimes that just can't happen," La Salle assistant Duane Norris said. "He had the work ethic, but not the understanding that everything can always go the way you want."

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Eventually, De La Torre emerged in the fall and enjoyed a wildly successful 2012 cross-country campaign that ended with a Division IV state championship.

That redemption and the lessons from 12 months ago might very well serve De La Torre this fall as the senior again struggled at the 2013 state track and field final before finishing ninth in the 3,200 in 9 minutes, 10.09 seconds and 20th in the 1,600 in 4:18.42.

For a second straight season, De La Torre's body tensed up in near triple-digit heat.

Like last season, De La Torre was left without answers.

"I don't know what to say. My body just didn't react the way I thought it would," De La Torre said. "I guess it wasn't ready."

Yet, this time, rather than be engulfed with bitterness, De La Torre showed a level of maturity unseen only a season earlier.

"I had a good year. I think I can be honest and say that," said De La Torre, who, for the second straight season, was voted the All-Area Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Pasadena Sun, La Cañada Valley, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.

"I'm disappointed with how the season ended, but one bad race doesn't define me."

De La Torre's maturity might be his biggest accomplishment in a year filled with honors and first-place finishes.

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