SAN DIEGO — El Camino senior Isabel Albaladejo loves cross country with a passion.

“It feels like I’m on top of the world, like I just want to stay in that moment forever,” Albaladejo said.

It’s a moment she missed at the beginning of the season during an important meet in Texas.

“We got there, and I got food poisoning or some kind of sickness, so I ended up not running,” Albaladejo said.

This left first-year head coach Robert Suarez without one of his best runners. Thankfully, the Wildcats pulled through.

“Our girls did have a little sickness there, but, nevertheless, placing third was a big accomplishment for them, especially for them traveling out of state, showing everyone else that, ‘Hey, El Camino is ready for business,’” said Roberto Suarez, El Camino head cross country coach.

Despite her team reaching the podium, Albaladejo was worried how missing the meet might affect the rest of her season.

“What’s going to happen because I didn’t run this race? Then I just kept at it, and everything just fell into place. I ended up doing really good this season,” she said.

Good is an understatement as Albaladejo took first place in the Avocado League Championship.

“I didn’t expect myself to do that, like win it. So I was like, who cares, I’m going to go for it and went the last mile,” Albaladejo said.

El Camino is heading to the CIF Finals on Saturday.

Reality is setting in for Albaladejo as the season winds down in what could be the Concordia University commit’s final race with her Wildcat teammates.

“The little things that go on during practice. Our inside jokes. We’re always with each other after practice, at lunch, so it will be a big difference not seeing them everyday,” Albaladejo said.