Monache’s Ivan Mendez signs with UC Davis
With his name plastered all over the Monache High School distance records placard that hangs in the school gym, senior Ivan Mendez signed his National Letter of Intent to run cross country for the University of California, Davis Friday afternoon.
Throughout his career with the Marauders, Mendez was a star for both the cross country and track teams where he set three of eight of the Monache boys’ distance records — the most of any Marauders.
Last season Mendez led the boys’ cross country program to a CIF Central Section Division II championship in 2017 — the first in school history. This season he placed 18th at the CIF State cross country meet for the highest finish in boys history.
The commitment and sacrifices Mendez made over the years to become one of the best runners in the Valley allowed him to become an Aggie at UC Davis, where he’ll run with the Division I program and major in business analytics.
“I chose Davis because it felt like home,” Mendez said. He added, “When I got on campus, it immediately felt like home. Just [with] me and the coaches, they’re always checking up on you. Making sure that … you’re always healthy. Even when you don’t have your best race, they’re still there to support you and give you advice on what you can do next time. That was even before I signed.
He also added that he likes the team’s new recruits and hopes to do big things at the next level. Mendez said, “I feel that next year they’re going to have a strong team and I can just from there build up and hopefully make it to nationals.”
At Monache Mendez found a family that helped bring him out of his shell when he was a shy, inexperienced runner.
“First day i came out, I was welcomed with open arms from [MHS head coach Seth] Ishida’s son,” Mendez said. “I was a shy kid but with this team they help you come out of your shell and just be a part of them and have fun. So it’s been a really great experience running for Monache and I encourage everyone I meet to go out and do a sport. Even if it’s not cross country, at least do a sport, because you make a lot of new friends and I definitely wouldn’t have the friends I have now if it wasn’t for cross country or track and field.”
Mendez wasn’t a runner prior to his freshman season, but he went on to set the frosh-soph track record in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9 minutes 33.47 seconds. Last season he set the 1,600-meter record with 4:19.49. In cross country, he set then broke the school record for the 5K at Woodward Park with a time of 15:23.3 last season.
Mendez has three top five finishes at Valley meets for cross country, including a runner-up finish in 2017, as well as a second-place finish at the Central Section Masters’ championships in the 3,200. For his accomplishments’ he was chosen The Recorder’s 2017 and 2018 Orange Belt Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year and the 2018 Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
There are plenty of things that have made Mendez successful and will continue to make him successful at the collegiate level, according to Ishida. In the four years that he’s coached Mendez, Ishida found that Mendez has great “technical knowledge” and self-awareness.
When it comes to Mendez, he knows exactly what to do and when to do it. He knows how to when to slow down and when to push it. But most importantly, Mendez knows what’s important to him in all facets of life.
“He lives a clean lifestyle,” Ishida said. “The purity of the lifestyle is kind of like a Spartan, focused on things. I’ve seen him throw away things — throw away the nonsense and grow up. Sacrifice things as well. He’s sacrificed family trips to do the training that he’s had to do….He’s got it all together.
Ishida added, “And he does have that talent, there is a deeper talent in there that you never know where your max is. It’ll be interesting to see how far he could go.”
All that’s left for Mendez now is one final track season where he plans to go all out and possibly set some more records.
“So far I’m feeling really confident now that I can run a 4:10 in the mile,” he said. “Then my second goal is to go under nine minutes for the two mile and then I just want to run a 1:56 in the 800.”