After making her way up in NWAC; Delia DeLeon faces tough competition in Pac-12

Treasure Valley Community College runners Delia Deleon, left, Indya Price, middle, and Naomi Gonzalez keep pace with each other early in an NWAC Championship race in November of 2017.

NYSSA — Coming out of Nyssa High School in 2017, not many people outside of the area knew the name Delia DeLeon.

But over the course of the next two years, DeLeon made sure everyone in the Northwest Athletic Conference knew who she was. After joining Treasure Valley Community College’s cross-country and track and field teams, DeLeon has piled up seven NWAC championships in two years.

On May 21, DeLeon finished first in the 800-meter race (two minutes, 19.10 seconds), the 1,500-meter race (4:52.40) and the 10,000-meter race (41:18.66).

Coming from humble beginnings, DeLeon said being on top in the NWAC was a surreal feeling.

“The feeling of being at the top of the NWAC feels awesome and I couldn’t have done it without the proper training, and I thank [TVCC coach Blas Guerra] for that,” she said.

In two years of college track and field, DeLeon never finished outside of the top-10 in any NWAC events. Her freshman season, she placed 24th in the 1,500 at the Portland Twilight and placed 12th in the 5,000 at the Northwest Scoring Clash WAR XI. Both of those meets saw the Chukars facing NCAA and international competition like Boise State University, University of Portland Washington State University and Gonzaga University.

According to DeLeon, she completely changed her running form when she got to college.

“I would say the biggest improvement in my style of running is my form,” she said. “It is different than it used to be and has helped me as a runner.”

The change was immediate, as she shaved a full minute off of her 5,000-meter time in cross-country and set new personal best times in all of her track events.

‘An eye opener’

The sole blemish to DeLeon’s medal case came in the NWAC Cross Country Championships in 2018. In the championship race, DeLeon fell to second place (18:36.3) to Community Colleges of Spokane sophomore Micaela Kostecka (18:24.8).

Kostecka was a thorn in DeLeon’s side all cross-country season, as she finished ninth at the Charles Bowles Invite on Sept. 30, 2018, where DeLeon finished 16th.

DeLeon and Kostecka also finished the 2017 NWAC Cross Country Championships as the top two, with DeLeon taking first place (18:29.2) and Kostecka in second (18:41.4).

After cruising through the competition as a freshman, DeLeon said taking second place in the championships was a humbling experience.

“Taking second at the cross-country championships was an eye-opener,” DeLeon said. “I did feel more focused knowing that there was competition because losing that cross-country title just made me want to come back and win again.”

Looking ahead

In the winter, DeLeon whittled her future college prospects down to Oregon State University. In getting ready to compete in one of the most competitive conferences in the country, DeLeon said she needs to stick to the offseason training that she’ll be given by the Beavers.

“This summer I know that I need to keep myself in shape and go by the schedule I’ll be given weekly,” she said. “I want to make sure that I follow the workouts I’m given and be ready to train with some fast girls, which I’m really excited about.”

In high school, the Nyssa distance running team was very small, meaning DeLeon spent a lot of her time practicing running alone. She said that she was happy to have workout partners like Indya Price and Naomi Gonzalez at TVCC who pushed her every day.

At Oregon State, DeLeon said her goal right now is to just keep getting better.

“My goals heading into my junior year at Oregon State is to improve on getting faster than I already am,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy and is going to take a lot of hard work, but I believe I can do it.”

As a freshman, DeLeon competed in the 6,000-meter cross-country race at the Lewis & Clark Invitational, finishing it in 22:07.3. The NWAC competes in 5,000-meter cross-country races, while the NCAA does the 6,000-meter races.

DeLeon’s finish, her lone attempt at the 6,000 in college, would have netted her 79th place in the 2018 Pac-12 Championships.

On top of Oregon State, DeLeon had received offers from Washington State University, Idaho State University and the University of Oregon.

DeLeon said it was crucial for her to stay in Oregon, so she could be close to her family. She said her decision to join the Beavers came from her family’s dislike of the Ducks.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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