Templeton High’s Savannah Camacho didn’t have an ideal cross country season in the fall, though she capped it off with a fifth-place finish at the state meet. She was worried about life after high school.
“I was stressing out,” she said. “I don’t know where I was going at all. My mind was everywhere.”
The senior can relax now. She has decided to commit to Oklahoma State on a full-ride scholarship to run cross country and track.
Camacho hopes to have a public signing on National Signing Day on Feb. 1 or shortly after.
Usually, runners ink with a college knowing that they’d have to pay part of their tuition. Not Camacho, who can just focus on running and setting records.
Like this Saturday. She’ll participate in the 800-meter race at the Run for the Dream Indoor Track & Field Invitational at the Save Mart Center in Fresno. She hopes to come close to or break the 2-minute, 16.91-second state record she set in last year’s event.
And when spring comes, she’ll work on breaking her bittersweet streak of finishing second to Amy Weissenbach of Harvard-Westlake in Hollywood in the 800 at the past two CIF State Championships.
“I don’t have to worry about that and relax,” Camacho said about her college destination. “It’s really nice to focus on what I’m doing now and not worry about where I’ll run in college.”
Many colleges wanted her, even to the point of offering full-ride scholarships, which are usually reserved for sports such as football and basketball. Besides Oklahoma State, Penn State, Arkansas, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State and Cal all made similar offers, as Stanford — Weissenbach’s future home — and Oregon offered partial scholarships.
Camacho made official visits to Penn State and Arkansas, but Oklahoma State had a grasp on her from the beginning. Camacho admired the campus, the facilities and the coaching staff, adding, “No other school compared.”
“They’re very excited she’s coming on board,” Templeton middle-distance coach Jim Barodte said about the Cowgirls. “They’re looking to have a good solid middle-distance team with Savannah on board. They have a couple good 800 runners. Putting Savannah in that class will push her. I know the coach will know how to develop her and we expect great things from her in the coming years.”
At Oklahoma State, Camacho will be coached by Dave Smith and surrounded by accomplished runners. One of them is Natalja Piliusina, who lost by one one-hundredth of a second to Oregon’s Anne Kesselring in the 800 of last year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
But before then, Camacho will focus on Weissenbach.
The two have been battling for the state’s top spot in the 800 the past two years, with Weissenbach being the winner both times. Last year, Weissenbach made it a solo race by turning in a time of 2:02.04, which broke a three-year-old national prep record by 0.86 seconds and was faster than any college time at that point. Camacho came in at 2:07.84.
Camacho is determined to beat Weissenbach, even if it doesn’t happen this year. In fact, the two will likely see ech other in college, so there will be opportunities for multiple rematches in the future.
“We’re nice to each other,” Camacho said, “but when we’re on the track, it’s pure competition.”
Thanks to Oklahoma State, she can just focus on that.