LA MESA — At the start of the 1984 track season, Darcy Arreola was best known for being one of three Arreolas running at Grossmont High School.
A year later, she has not only emerged as the family's finest runner, but the junior has established herself as one of San Diego County's best distance runners.
Saturday, Arreola ran one of her finest races. She finished second at 3,200 meters at the Pasadena Relays. Her time of 10:39.8 carved 1:22 off her previous best and was only seven seconds off the San Diego Section record of 10:31.07 set by Betsy Chadwick of Mira Mesa in 1981.
Arreola, 16, never ran the two mile as a sophomore, the year she won the San Diego Section championship in the 800 and finished second in the mile. She continued to improve, winning the 1984 San Diego Section cross-country championship.
Midway through this track season, her accomplishments continue to swell. Arreola has the county's top marks in the 800 (2:15), mile (5:03.05) and the 3,200. And she is within striking distance of the section record in each of those events.
On a day of record temperatures in San Diego, Arreola was alone on the Grossmont track Monday, going through a workout of 330-yard repeats.
"I've worked hard for it (my success)," Arreola said. "But I want to be better."
It would seem Arreola has room for improvement in the 3,200. On Saturday, the 3,200 winner, Tracy Williams of Mountain View in Los Angeles, opened an 80-yard lead on Arreola after a mile.
"I thought she was running too fast," Arreola said. "But I was used to running 12-minute two miles in dual meets. I just tried to catch her a little bit each lap."
Arreola cut Williams' lead to 20 yards with one lap to go and pulled even at the top of the stretch. But Williams pulled away to win in 10:39.03.
"I like the two mile," she said. "At least I like it now. But my brother says I shouldn't run it. And I don't think my coach (Lynn Cole) wants me to either."
Darcy's brother, Paul, was Grossmont's top distance runner as a senior last season. He is an influence on Darcy's career. Sister Rita is a senior and runs the 440 for the Foothillers.
Any decision not to run Arreola in postseason meets would be related to the demand placed on her to run other events. Her probable course will be to run the 880, mile and mile relay.
She will running those three races in her next meet, the Arcadia Invitational on April 13.
"I'm going to try to get under five minutes in the mile," Arreola said. "I think the mile will be first and I'll be running against the girl from Mountain View again."
Should Arreola break the five-minute barrier at Arcadia, it would continue her trend of running her best times out of the county. She ran her 3,200 in Pasadena on the same day as San Diego County's Chula Vista Relays. She ran a 5:03.05 mile in Mission Viejo on the same day as the Canada Dry/Mustang Relays at San Dieguito High. As she did in the 3,200, Arreola finished second at Mission Viejo.
"At first, I was sorry that I wasn't running against the girls here," she said. "But now I'm glad. All the best runners are in Los Angeles. I don't know if I would've run those times against the San Diego girls."
Arreola is shy and appears uncomfortable when discussing her success, but that is not to be confused with being naive. She has a definite sense of direction about her running career.
She said the biggest thrill of her running career was winning the 880 in the Grossmont League finals in 2:13. Arreola said that win overshadowed the victory two weeks later at the San Diego Section finals in the 800 because her time was three seconds slower.
"I like racing more than I like winning," Arreola said. "I've run my best two races in races that I didn't win."