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Cal High’s Alderfer and Martinez keep on running in shutdown

WHITTIER – With social distancing a big deal right now, it couldn’t be any better for an athlete who is a distance runner.

Now that it appears that the 2020 high school academic year is about to be officially halted, athletes turn their sights on what’s next.

Outstanding Cal High distance runners Jack Martinez and Jared Alderfer haven’t stopped running since school was put on hold over two weeks ago. Both have been on their usual training nearly every day, however, in a different environment – the streets, or just anywhere they feel safe.

Yes, the two friends would rather most likely be running side-by-side with each other and the rest of their teammates on the track at Sandra Sanchez Thorstenson Stadium on the Whittier campus.

Both were hoping for big senior seasons in track, leading up to their upcoming college careers.

“In the early part of the shutdown we (Jared and Jack) would run with a couple of friends and teammates,” Martinez said. “For the most part we haven’t been able to run much.

“It’s been frustrating. We can’t go anywhere, but complaining isn’t going to get me anywhere.”

Alderfer said even the local trails such as Greenway Trail and San Miguel River Trail off of Colima Road are closed.

But, not to be denied, Alderfer found his way for a run along the railroad tracks near Cal High recently.

“If I was still playing baseball, I wouldn’t know what to do,” Alderfer said. “With running, I can just take off. If I’m motivated, all I need are my shoes and I’m getting used to it.”

Cross country runners, Jack Martinez, 18, left, and Jared Alderfer, 17, keep up their running in Whittier after school sports have temporarily shut down on Tuesday March 31. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)


Martinez signed a national letter of intent in February to attend Cal State University, East Bay (Hayward) and will compete in cross country and distance track. He plans to major in business/economics and minor in French.

Alderfer is hoping to receive a scholarship from either Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado or Western Washington (Bellingham).

Both Alderfer and Martinez went to the same middle school (East Whittier) but didn’t really become friends until their freshman year at Cal High, as they met in French class and were on the cross country team. They didn’t become better runners until their sophomore year.

Alderfer was 4 ft. 10 inches tall and weighed in at 100 pounds when he started experiencing growing pains and faced many injuries. At times, he felt like giving up.

“However, at the Clovis Invitational in my sophomore year I placed 17th in a massive field and got second place for my class of 2020. It gave me the confidence I needed to continue my passion, even though I got injured in the next race right after that.

“Injuries opened my eyes to how much I loved the sport because I missed running so much.”

Alderfer, who actually played plenty of baseball as a young boy and wanted to continue in high school, fell in love with the running portion of the sport and never looked back.

“(Running) became my biggest passion and I decided to fully commit myself to the sport,” Alderfer said.

Martinez made the varsity team along with Alderfer in their sophomore year and that’s where the steady improvement began for the pair.”

Martinez, who was co-captain for both the 2019 cross country team and this years’ track team, was a three-year varsity runner along with Alderfer.

Alderfer steadily improved, lowering his 3-mile and 5K times in cross country and his 3200, 1600 and 800 in track from his freshman to senior year.

In the 2018 CIF Prelims, Alderfer ran a personal record time of 16:04 in the 3 mile. He shaved off 1:16 seconds and ran a 14:48, but missed an opportunity to run in the state championships.

“This experience made me super focused for the track season in 2019. After our (Cross Country) coach retired, coach (Brandon) Martinez became the track distance coach and cross country coach.

“He saw my potential and dedication, which made it exciting to coach me.”

Coach Martinez improved the team and even saw his son, Jack, become All-Del Rio League First Team this past cross country season. He also was a State CIF Finalist, a 2-time CIF Finalist and two-time DRL Champion.”

“As for the current situation, the main thing that is different is we don’t get to meet as a team every day,” Brandon Martinez said. “They kind of run on their own now and it’s been a challenge, especially for the seniors.

“We let them know that we’ll get through this and whether your senior season happens or not you’ve got a college career right in front of you.”

His son Jack realizes what the loss of a senior spring semester and track season meant to lose.

“It hurts, especially our senior year. It’s a really big letdown.”

In addition to the athletic end of school was the excitement of graduation. “I’ve been planning on this for four years and the rug has been pulled out from under us.”
As a team, Cal High took second in state in 2012, but when Martinez and Alderfer were freshmen (2016), they witnessed the then seniors finish fifth in state, which motivated them for the next four years.

Martinez is already looking ahead to his college training for the upcoming season, if and when the high school year is officially over.

“I’m actually going to train and get on a college training schedule when that happens. I’m going to meet with the (Cal State East Bay) coach and set up a plan for next year.”

Martinez and his friend of five years, Jared, however didn’t miss one big event in the life of a high schooler and was sure glad they went. “Jared and I both went to the prom in our junior year.”

Priorities, now that’s a couple of runners who know which direction they are headed.

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