SAN DIEGO – Crossing the finish line and entering the record books this month at Morley Field was Francis Parker High School senior Kenan Pala.
“It was a happy accident,” Pala said. “Two years ago, I ran a 15:30 here, so I was hoping for about a minute personal record. So, the 14:22 was a really nice surprise and a lot of fun.”
The four-year track and cross country runner led his team to the San Diego Section Division V title Nov. 20 by clocking in with the fastest ever time in the CIF-San Diego Section Record Book.
Pala said he wanted to make a mark as he nears the end of a decorated prep running career.
“The last race that I’ll run in the San Diego Section as a high school athlete, so I really wanted to leave a mark because now it’s state and nationals,” he said.
Pala now turns his attention to the state championships in Fresno followed shortly by nationals hosted back in San Diego. The next three weeks, he says, are all about accomplishing major personal goals and reaching the pinnacle of the sport after four years of training.
All that success on the track led Pala to receive an offer from Yale after graduating from Francis Parker with a 4.68 GPA.
“I love the campus,” he said. “When I visited it over the summer, I wasn’t expecting to like it so much compared to all the other schools and then the coach and the team, I really just connected with them right away.”
“It made it feel like a home and that’s ultimately what I want in a college experience,” he added.
The Rancho Bernardo resident also hopes to make an even bigger leap and qualify for the Turkish Olympic team. He’s a dual citizen and sees the path as a “viable option.”
Kenan added that his secret to success the night before a big race is eating cheese pizza.