Carlos Villarreal to run with the Legends

Carlos Villarreal earning his way to a NXN berth and a hug from American Record holder Bernard "Kip" Lagat. Photo by Alan Versaw.

Name: Carlos Villarreal

High School: Rio Rico

Signed With: University of Arizona

Why the decisions to stay close to home? What clinched it for U of A?

I stayed close to home because I could see my family often since the Arizona campus is only an hour away from home. Another big factor was that I love the weather here in Arizona! I'm not a big fan of cold weather so I'd rather run in 100 degree weather instead of 20 degree weather any day! My family and I have always been big UofA fans, so having an opportunity to run for the Wildcats was really exciting. I got along really well and felt comfortable with the team and coaches. Not to mention the beautiful campus and the amazing sports facilities the UofA has to offer.

You burst onto the national scene this fall in XC, temporarily holding the nations fastest time. What are your goals for track? Any post season racing?

Desert Twilight was a complete shock to me me. One of my goals was to break 15 minutes in a 5k torwards the end of the season which was a long shot since my PR last year was 15:55. Coming into Twilight I was hoping for a top 5 finish and a solid PR. When I was told about my time after finishing the race, I was in disbelief. I had PR'd by over a minute so that gave me confidence for upcoming races.

I'm really looking forward to this spring. My coach and I are going to try to make this season one to remember. My main goal is to help my team retain our Division 3 Team Title, which will be tough but I know we can do it. As for myself I'm just looking to have fun this spring, improve my times, and make my senior track season memorable. I might give the 3200 a shot this year, just to see how fun it is to run eight laps around the track. As far as post season races go, my goals are to qualify for the Adidas Dream Mile and the IAAF World Youth Championships this summer.

What was it like meeting another Coach Li disciple (Bernard Lagat) at NXR-SW. Did you ask him anything about your new coach? How does it feel knowing you will be coached by the same guy as the fastest American?

Seeing Kip at Nike Southwest was awesome! I met him and Abdi last year at the Willie Williams Invitational and I had a great conversation with him after my 800m race. This fall while on my official visit to the UofA, I met Lawi Lalang and afterwards Coach Li took us to go eat lunch with Kip at some sandwich place. (I don't remember the name but it was really good!) Once I was able to walk after the race at NXR, Kip came over, gave me hug, and congratulated me on qualifying for NXN. Kip and Lawi are two of the most humble athletes I have ever met so I really look forward to seeing them around next year!

I did ask Kip about Coach Li, and I heard nothing but great things from him. Coach Li has coached two legendary NCAA runners and once they became professional they returned to him for a reason. Having the opportunity to call Bernard Lagat and Lawi Lalang's coach my coach next year is crazy. I can't wait for next year and finally be a Wildcat. But for now, I'm a Rio Rico Hawk and I'm standing on the shoulders of giants so I have tradition to continue.

Has Coach Li given you any indication as to what you will specialize in during college? What do you want to specialize in?

Yes. Coach Li has mentioned to me that he sees me as a miler in college. I will most likely run the 800 and 1500 next year but mainly the 1500 and the indoor Mile. I personally wanted to specialize in the 1500 so it works out really well. Coach Li coached Bernard Lagat to the American 1500 record so its a blessing being able to call him my future coach.