By WILL WILLCOXSON
Former Pima Community College track star Alfonso Mejia, 21, has spent this season as a volunteer hurdle assistant for the track and field coaching staff.
“He is doing very well,” sprint and hurdle assistant coach Walter Henderson said. “With the experience that he brings, he is able to assist the other hurdlers.”
Mejia can often be spotted warming up with the athletes, and says his motivation is simple: “I want to stay in shape.”
He’s noticed changes in his transition from student to teacher. “Before I would just follow along, now I know how to build a workout,” he said.
Along with warmups, Mejia is responsible for correcting the form of the athletes as practice goes on.
“I’ve experienced what they’re experiencing,” he said.
As a sophomore last season, Mejia placed fifth in the 400 meter hurdles at nationals. The experience provided profound memories.
“It was different, a lot faster and more competitive,” he said.
He wants his athletes to enjoy the same experience. “My goal is to pretty much get some guys to nationals,” he said.
He’ll offer one tip to those who qualify for the national competition: “Relax, it can be pretty unnerving.”
Mejia is majoring in electro-mechanical computer animated drafting, and hopes to finish his degree sometime in 2015.
He said Pima’s program has progressed since his arrival in 2013, especially from the sprint standpoint, and credits Henderson for his success.
“We have always been close,” he said. “I base the hurdle workouts off of him.”
The 2015 Aztec track and field team has already produced 13 national qualifiers during the indoor season, and still has three months until nationals.
Henderson is very positive about the season, and confidant that Mejia’s hard work will pay off.
“It will really show as the season goes on, because we have different periods of progression that we want to start to see them peak at,” Henderson said.
“We’re really looking forward to the outdoor season.”