No one knew about Mayra Ramirez’s running ability.
After all, the soccer player bypasses track in the spring and she had not run cross country.
Great Bend coach Lyles Lashley was speechless when he saw Ramirez’s graceful stride gliding around the track. Lashley has rarely seen such perfect technique.
“When I saw Mayra running around the track, her stride pattern was incredible,” Lashley said. “When you watch her run, there’s hardly any effort. I could tell she was a runner.”
One of Ramirez’s friends talked her into trying out for cross country.
“One of my friends, Angela Enriquez, told me I should run cross country,” she said.
Ramirez still had her doubts.
“I wasn’t too confident I could run,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure how I’d do. I knew it would be tough.”
Strong workouts convinced Ramirez that she needed to test her limits.
“In practice, coach Lashley pushes us,” she said. “He believed I could do it. In my mile pace times, we came up with a 19-minute time. It was then I knew I was capable.”
Ramirez started with a solid victory at Great Bend’s home meet. She’s backed that up with med-alist honors at Hesston, Buhler, Larned and Sterling (19:13.8), breaking Karen Razo’s school record (19:28.0).
Ramirez’s God-given ability comes with a catch – she doesn’t compete on Saturdays (the Sabbath) because of her religious beliefs.
That means Thursday’s 4 p.m. Western Athletic Conference cross country meet at the Lake Barton course will be her final cross country race of the season.
“Our Sabbath is Saturday We believe that the Sabbath is holy,” Ramirez said. “We go to church and visit people. It’s a day we save for spending time with God.”
She has received positive support for her religious beliefs.
“Everybody has been really supportive,” she said. “It feels great that people are understanding about different religions.”
Ramirez enjoys the positive spirit in cross country where everyone is supportive.
“The way people get along in cross country is great,” she said. “Runners understand that every-one is doing their best. Runners respect each other.”
Ramirez’s competitive fire matches her religious strength.
“I like how cross country pushes your body to the limit,” Ramirez said. “You have to always run your best. It’s an individual sport, but you’re always helping your team.”
Her goal is to maintain a steady pace over the 5 kilometers.
“I try to pace myself from the beginning and keep strong during the race,” she said. “It’s hard for me to start fast and finish fast. I enjoy running at the same pace.”
Lashley said Ramirez is a shining example that hard work pays off.
“Mayra brings a great positive attitude every day,” Lashley said. “She’s a fun person to be around. She was raised by an incredible family.”