Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
If there’s an adjective that describes former Roswell track star Robert Sedillo Jr., it would be a hard worker. Anyone that knows him knows that he is an intense competitor that doesn’t like to lose.
On Tuesday, Sedillo signed his letter of intent to continue his education and run track at MidAmerican Nazarene University, located in Olathe, Kansas. Joined by family and friends, Sedillo Jr. fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to school and showing that hard work does pay off.
“I was planning on going to college no matter what,” Sedillo said. “To get a scholarship for sports, I never thought I’d be in that position. I didn’t know if I was good enough to get a scholarship — when I did, it was the best feeling of my life. It’s a dream come true to continue in the sport I love.”
Disappointing junior season
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Sedillo had a disappointing junior campaign because of hamstring injuries. For a while, he and his coaches didn’t know what the problem was. Sedillo noticed his hips went out of place when he ran, causing him to tie up in the middle of his races and falter.
Roswell coach Tim Fuller sent him to the chiropractor to see if there was anything that could be done to help him. The chiropractor told Sedillo that his hips were out of place and he could put them back in place and have him feeling better. It worked, but it was too late in the season for Sedillo to salvage anything but seventh-place at state.
Getting beat by Artesia
In last year’s district meet at Artesia in the 400-meter, Sedillo had a lead and lost by a step to one of his good friends, Artesia’s 6-foot-6 long strider Joe Willingham. Sedillo felt like his step and stride were off and needed to go back to the drawing board and correct the problem in hopes of defeating Willingham should they meet again, but in bettering his times for the state. The loss left a bitter taste in his mouth that he would remember until the next opportunity to race Willingham again.
The first thing Sedillo did was go to the chiropractor every week. If he felt himself tying up, Sedillo wasted no time getting his hips fixed immediately. He also worked with track coach Jack Batson. Batson taught him how to use his arms and create more speed. The most important thing Batson did was breakdown his start and improve it. The difference in speed was Sedillo went from running 52s to a 51.35 at the Hobbs race.
After Sedillo is announced to the crowd to begin the race, he talks to himself before the gun goes off. When he raced Willingham in the district this year at Artesia, Sedillo gave himself a pep talk and said, “Last year was different, this is a whole new year. Everyone has their days and today is going to be my day.”
Before the race, Sedillo said to himself that even though Joe’s (Willingham) to my right outside: don’t be last. Second, don’t let Joe (Willingham) beat you again. Third, win the race. As the gun went off, he thought about getting up to speed as quickly as possible, and then transitioning into opening up to a floating position and running straight up, which he learned from Trujillo in his freshman year, and was reinforced by Fuller.
During the race against Willingham, Sedillo reminded himself that after he gets off the first curve and gets into the backstretch going into the first 100 meters to open up and relax. In his second 100 meters, he reminded himself to relax more, at this point in the race he’s able to look around and see where everyone is at and what they’re doing.
In the third 100 meters, he hears the voice of coach Batson in his ear telling him this is the hardest part of the race, where most of his opponents are starting to say to themselves that they have got another 100 meters to go and they’ll start to slow down. Batson has taught him to start moving his arms faster to create a sling-shot motion with his arms and create the illusion he is going faster.
“In my head,” Sedillo said, “I think I’m going faster by pumping my arms harder when I’m really going slower. I’m tired, my body is tired, but in my head, if I can see that then I can push harder and keep my form and speed. When my opponents see I’m starting to kick it in, they’re thinking ‘Oh, I have to keep up with this guy.’ What I like to do is run my own race no matter who’s ahead of me or behind me. When they try to keep up with me, they start to fall off.”
Willingham kept up with Sedillo for the first 300 meters, but because of what Sedillo learned by pumping his arms and kicking it in more, he was able to take off, leaving Willingham behind.
“Joe and I are best friends,” Sedillo said. “He’s a great athlete and all, but when I finally beat him, I was happy and couldn’t believe I beat him in district at Artesia. I beat him in his hometown on his home track like he beat me last year on my home track and town. I got revenge and I felt great.”
With all of the hard work this season, Sedillo placed fifth at state this year, making all-state. At state, he ran his personal best of 50.54.
“Robert has a great attitude,” RHS coach Tim Fuller said. “He’s a very hard worker. I’ve been doing this three years and he will outwork anyone we have. He leads by example and has great leadership traits. He’s been a leader for the track team for the last three years. His split is 49.70 in the district. He’s represented Roswell in everything he’s done.”
Football gives him the attitude to win
A lot of his attitude in track comes from playing right cornerback for the Roswell football team. As a defensive back, Sedillo was counted on to come up and stop the run or to break up the quick slant.
Coach Micah Trujillo coached him at Berrendo in his eighth-grade year in football and didn’t know where to put him. Trujillo didn’t think Sedillo had enough coordination to walk and chew gum at the same time. Sedillo was so thin that he couldn’t put weight on. Trujillo worked with him on technique issues and Sedillo has done nothing but improve in both sports.
“At the time, I wasn’t the most athletic or coordinated kid,” Sedillo said. “In my freshman year, they didn’t know where to place me because I was so awkward. What football taught me is if I worked hard enough and put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. Coach Jeff Lynn always pushed me in lifting weights and in practice. Everyone gets tired, that’s when you have to have the heart. It’s the same thing in track.”
Qualifying for state
At district, Sedillo qualified in the 4×200, then turned around and won the 400 running a 51.23. Two races later, he ran the 1600 meter medley and he ran the 4×400 in the final race of the night. Sedillo was the anchor leg and ran a 49.6 for his personal best. Outside of the 4×200 in which Roswell took second, the Coyotes won first-place.
For Sedillo, the first 300 meters of the race is quiet. Sedillo hears nothing but himself and his opponents racing and breathing. Once he comes off the corner and turns onto the straightaway heading toward the finish line, that’s when reality hits. Sedillo’s focus is straight ahead when he is running. He can hear his opponent running with him. It feels like they are running next to him.
“I hear the chants of the crowd,” Sedillo said. “I hear everyone breathing harder and my heart pumping. It’s unreal when you’re at the final stretch and everyone is cheering for you and I get this burst of energy trying to fight and see who is going to win it.”
“What I like about running the 400 meters,” Sedillo said, “I like knowing everything is on me. Track people say the 400 is a man’s race. It is the hardest race on the track. If you don’t execute from the beginning all the way to the finish line, you’ll fall out at the end because your legs will give out on you. As an athlete, I like that it’s all in my head and it comes down to who wants it more.”
Sedillo has never chosen the easiest position or event to play. The harder the sport or position, the better he has liked it. Working hard to win is what he has been raised to do and how he’s built his life. Look for him to take that same hardworking attitude and dedication to MidAmerican Nazarene University and win on the track, as he fulfills his goal of becoming an athletic trainer, or sports therapist for a professional team. One day, Sedillo says he would like to own his own sports training rehabilitation clinic.