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All-County Cross Country: Bilvado named top boys runner

Sophomore dedicates season to late grandfather


12:00 AM, Dec. 18, 2012 EST

Exeter's Yesenia Silva and El Diamante's Jacob Bilvado were named All-Tulare County Cross Country Runners of the Year. Both overcame challenging pasts on their way to the top. / Ron Holman

If Jacob Bilvado ever looks back, it's only for a brief moment to gain perspective.

One of those moments came on Oct. 17 at the funeral of his late grandfather, Steve Bilvado. The glimpse backward at his many cherished memories pushed him forward.

Jacob competed in a West Yosemite League dual meet against Redwood at Mooney Grove Park just hours after the funeral ended. He ran the most emotional race of his life in honor of his grandfather, and finished the 3.1-mile course in a time of 16 minutes, 38 seconds.

"It was a hard day for me," Bilvado, a sophomore, told Damian Marquez for a Times-Delta/Advance-Register story on Nov. 23. "All the memories came back. I knew I couldn't dwell on it. Why stay in a sad state of mind? I just went in and ran my race and had a good time."

Jacob also took a moment to look back on Nov. 15 at the Central Section championships. Once again it pushed him forward.

As he rounded a corner at the end of the second mile, Jacob looked back and saw that he was much closer to a Valley title than he thought because his opponents were much farther back than he expected.

"I just thought if I was either running fast or they were running slow, I had to keep going," Jacobs said. "The race was still not over. I haven't won yet."

Jacob lives his life the same way he runs races. No matter what he sees behind him, he has to keep going.

He's a meticulous goal setter because it helps him maintain a positive attitude regardless of where he is at. He strives to mentally picture himself where he wants to be.

Winning a Central Section championship was his biggest goal of the season.

He started the race behind a group of seven other runners. They were all in a single-file line as Jacob let them carry him through the first mile.

The second leg featured a big hill. This is where Jacob's ability to press on through challenging circumstances separated him from everyone else.

Jacob pushed up the hill to the front of the pack. When he finally allowed himself a glance backward, the race was his to win. His mental picture soon became a physical reality with a time of 15:49 for a first-place finish.

Now his sights are set on a Valley title on the track. That goal will be tougher to meet without the benefit of separate divisions featured in cross country. As usual, Jacob is only motivated by the challenge.

"I have to put in a lot more mileage and take my workouts past what I'm supposed to do and can do," he said. "I have to push myself until I can't run anymore."

With the cross country season finished, Jacob is allowing himself one more glimpse into the past. He wants to dedicate his entire season to his grandfather, who he says was a huge influence on his running career.

Steve was a well-respected member of the local cross country community who spent the last few years of his life as a starter for many of the local races. He competed in cross country and track and field at Tulare Union High School and coached in Tulare.

Most importantly to Jacob, Steve attended many of his grandson's races.

On those days, Jacob didn't even need to look back for perspective. He already knew what -- in this case, who -- was pushing him forward.

 

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