Monache's Marilou Ruiz

Monache High School's Marilou Ruiz shows "Stingers Up" after signing a National Letter of Intent to run for California State University, Sacramento's track and cross country programs, Friday, March 15, at Monache High School.

Set to run cross country and track for the Hornets

California State University, Sacramento added a local to their roster Friday when Monache High School senior, Marilou Ruiz, signed a National Letter of Intent to join the NCAA Division I Hornets’ track and cross country programs in the fall.

The Hornets, who compete in the Big Sky Conference, provided Ruiz with a partial scholarship and if she can run a 5-minute mile or an 11-minute two mile, she will get another $2,000 on top of the partial scholarship, according to MHS head coach Seth Ishida.

Ruiz still has one last season of track to complete but she is excited to begin her career at Sac State, although it might be a little scary.

“Kinda scary, little bit,” Ruiz said. “Just cause I’m going to be doing a new program. But I’m excited to see how far I can go with my running career, and academically as well.”

Despite injuries throughout her career at Monache, Ruiz has left marks on the cross country and track programs. In track she broke Jennifer Baker’s 1986 time of 2:18.7 to set Monache’s girls 800-meter record with a 2:17.26 finish at CIF Central Area Qualifier in 2017. Ruiz was also a member of the record-setting distance medley relay team (13:19.38). 

In cross country, Ruiz also helped lead the Marauders to a Division II Valley championship in 2017 where she finished second in the 5,000-meter championship race with a time of 19:24.8. She also qualified for the state meet in both her senior and junior year.

Her ability to push herself through adversity can best be described by Ruiz on why she runs.

“I feel like you’re able to empty out a lot of things,” Ruiz said. “And not only that you’re able to prove yourself how much pain you can take to your body, and how much it can go through. I find that really interesting. So it’s fun.”

At Sac State, Ruiz will compete at one of the best facilities in the state. Located in the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex, Hornet Stadium hosted the 2003 2005, 2006 and 2007 NCAA Div. I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, as well as the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials, according to their athletic website.

“She has the facilities and they have the dedication to athletic prowess, and that’s going to help,” Ishida said.

On why she chose Sacramento, Ruiz said, “The atmosphere of the team was really nice. And not only that, I really felt like the coach really cared about my individual growth as a person too. It was a good pick, good decision.”

For their track and field and cross country programs, the Hornets made a new hire in Kenny McDaniel in October of 2018. 

“When you bring in your new batch of freshmen, they’re special,” Ishida said. “I hope she gets that same situations. We felt like the coach really cared. And that’s what set their program apart from other schools.”

Ruiz has never shied away from a challenge and Ishida believes that will continue at the collegiate level.

“She’s got an excellent work ethic and she’s worked so hard academically that that’s not going to set her back,” Ishida said. “Lot of athletes have to adjust to higher academics and they have a difficult time but she’s capable, ready. Above 4.0 [GPA]. She’s taken hard classes. She hasn’t taken easy classes, it’s all difficult. She works very hard. So it’s her work ethic that she’s going to go with.”

At Sac State, Ruiz plans on majoring in kinesiology so she can open her own practice or move on to graduate school and focus on sports medicine. 

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