Alegra Mendez has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember. It’s her favorite sport and it’s what she’s best at. Her team, the San Juan Spirits ’96, will compete in a Nomads Tournament this weekend in San Diego, a big tournament played in front of college coaches. “Alegra plays center midfield for us and has amazing footwork, great vision of the field and doesn’t stop running until the game is over,” San Juan coach Jimmy Frazelle said. “As a coach, she’s a type of player you want on your team.” Her commitment to her soccer team will keep her from running with her sister, Marissa, and the rest of her cross country teammates at Vista del Lago in the CIF state cross country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. Mendez has had a strong freshman year and it’s her emergence that helped Vista del Lago win a Division III section title and qualify for the state meet. While she had success on Folsom Middle School’s cross country team the last three years, she didn’t know she would excel as much as she had this season as a freshman at Vista. “I’m really surprised at the success I’ve had,” Alegra said. “I’m bummed that I can’t run at the state meet, but the coach knows that soccer is my main priority.” Alegra said she committed to the soccer tournament in January, long before she was even a student at Vista. The loss of Alegra hurts Vista’s chances of a high finish at the state meet, but coach Mike Livingston said if the team pulls out a top-15 finish it would be a successful day. Last year the team placed 13th and all five scorers return again this year. Sophomore Madeleine Ankhelyi leads the Eagles as the team’s No. 1 runner. She placed tenth at the state meet a year ago in 18 minutes, 21 seconds. Her goal this year is to improve in both areas, as she hopes for a top-10 finish and she hopes to run faster than 18:20. Another sophomore, Jennifer Morgan, is the team’s No. 2 runner and will look to improve her time of 19:18 from a year ago. Marissa Mendez, a senior, ran 19:26 last year, but missed four months of training with walking pneumonia and is aiming to break 20 minutes this season. “My times aren’t a whole lot slower than last year but they’re not close to where I want them to be,” Mendez said. “My first race this year was the league meet and I only started training about three weeks before that. It’s been cool to have my sister on the team, but we’re all bummed that she’s got a soccer tournament this weekend.” Senior Jennifer Arbaugh and sophomore Hannah Osuna, who’s currently battling an injury, both return after posting times of 20:43 and 19:55, respectively, a year ago. Either sophomore Liz Anderson or freshman Dali Alarian will replace Alegra as a scoring runner for the Eagles.