Cambrian: Sports

Top Coast Union runner earns spot at prestigious Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational

David Amodei’s preferred sport “by far” is basketball, he admits, but the articulate Coast Union High School senior went out for cross country just “to get in shape” for the upcoming hoops season.

Meanwhile, Amodei’s strong showing as lead runner for the Broncos this season led coaches Ayen Johnson and Wade Lawrence, and Athletic Director Andrew Crosby, to enter him as a wild card participant in the prestigious Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational on Friday, Oct. 25.

The Mt. SAC event (held in Walnut) is the largest gathering of top cross country runners from elementary and middle schools, high schools and community colleges in California. It’s considered an honor to compete at Mt. SAC. One previous Broncos runner, Mario Mendoza, ran at Mt. SAC in 2003 and finished fifth.

“David has a tremendous drive and is an intense competitor,” Johnson said in an email interview. “He knows what is required to accomplish his goals, and I think he will be prepare to do well on Friday. He is an inspiration for the younger athletes and is the first person to encourage and support his teammates.”

Johnson added: “David is consistent, motivated and always willing to give his best effort in any situation.”

Amodei motivated by youth coach

He was interviewed Saturday, Oct. 19, on a picnic table in Shamel Park — after winning the annual Scarecrow Classic 5K fundraising run in Cambria in 19:12. Amodei’s best time in the three-mile run this past cross country season was 18:03.

Amodei said his favorite NBA player is Kobe Bryant, but he was inspired by and mentored in basketball fundamentals by Ayen Johnson, who was Amodei’s basketball coach from fourth through eighth grade at Santa Lucia Middle School. Amodei’s father passed away when David was 6 years old, so when the family moved from Oakhurst to Cambria, Johnson provided a “dad’s perspective. I didn’t have a dad... I looked up to him.”

Going to Mt. SAC on Friday means Amodei will miss the countywide high school cross country event on Saturday, Oct. 26. But Mt. SAC is a “personal goal, because when I was 8 years old in Oakhurst my sister ran cross country, and she made it to Mt. SAC. I remember going there and watching the runners.”

Senior faces his toughest challenge

Because Mt. SAC includes numerous hills, Amodei is training this week running up and down steep, hilly Bridge Street in Cambria, which leads to the cemetery.

Amodei and his close friend Nate Markham, also a senior, are also looking forward to challenging last year’s Coast Valley League champions Coastal Christian this upcoming basketball season.

The Broncos finished in second place last season with an 8-2 record.

Amodei scored 209 points in 24 games; he grabbed 90 rebounds, dished out 39 assists and was credited with 72 steals.

His next goal is to enroll at Cal Poly and pursue a business degree. “I want to get into the hospitality field,” he explained.

He receives hands-on hospitality training on weekends serving as a busser at Madeline’s in the West Village of Cambria.

But come Friday, Amodei faces his biggest challenge as a student athlete, competing with the top runners at Mt. SAC.

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