Yair Torres has achieved a lot at Santa Maria High School.

He's set school records and captured loads of individual and team accolades. 

Now, he's content with one more chance at adding to his already impressive resume. 

Torres is embarking on his senior season with the Saints. He's long been his school's top cross country runner. Just last month though, Torres wasn't sure if he'd ever get to run for the Saints again. He completed his junior cross country season in the fall of 2019 with an appearance in the CIF State meet, where he finished 35th in the Division 2 race. He was fifth at the CIF Central Section Division 2 meet leading up to that.

Earlier in the season, Torres set the school record in the three-mile race at the Dos Pueblos Invitational with a time of 15 minutes flat. 

He then started his junior track and field season last spring. At the City Meet in February of 2020, Torres cruised to a win in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:36.58.

Then everything came crashing to a halt. The spring track season was suspended and eventually canceled. The 2020 cross country season was delayed, and delayed again. 

Torres wasn't sure he'd ever get to run as a senior. But, over the last few weeks, Torres has seen competition resume as the state has seemingly moved past the worst parts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Torres has run twice over the last week as Santa Maria High has hosted a pair of "cross country" runs on its track. Torres has cruised to wins in each of his heats, averaging about 10 minutes to complete eight laps on the Saints' track. 

Santa Maria coach Brian Wallace says Torres is up there with some of the best runners he's ever coached, comparing him favorably to former Santa Ynez standout Connor Reck, who ran at Harvard.

"Yair is definitely a leader and that's something he's had to work on because he's a quiet and shy kid," Wallace said. "It's been a challenge for him (to lead), but it's nice to see him take on that development. He's grown into a young man here."

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Wallace says Torres has been training consistently for a potential season since last June, even though there was plenty of uncertainty if the training would ever pay off.

Torres has definitely prepared for this moment. During his two runs over the last week, Torres has toyed with the competition. He cruised to easy wins against Mission Prep last Friday and Righetti on Tuesday. He appears to have boundless energy. After a warm-up and an eight-lap race, Torres led his teammates for more miles after the race, cruising around the track with so much ease it appeared he would be content running all night.

Torres said it's easy for him to train and constantly run with the team the Saints have built up. He says Luiz Diaz and Chris Cervantes have long been nipping at his heels.

"The only way I make so many miles is because of my friends," Torres said. "They motivate me, they try to push me to get more and do the extra miles every day. Luis is probably our second-best runner and he's a senior year, too. It's been some good years with them, always out running."

Wallace says Torres is definitely the best runner in the city and could be the top runner in the county. Torres says he's just glad to be running against anybody from another school.

"Honestly, I'm just happy to be back racing," Torres said. "It's been over a year. Coach is trying to make it as fun as possible and provide chances to compete."

Torres helped the Saints win at the Santa Barbara County Meet in 2019. He finished second there to Santa Barbara's Jake Ballantine, who has graduated. 

Wallace says Torres is one of the better athletes he's ever coached and has the potential to run for a Division I school.

"He's a legit DI talent," Wallace said. "I don't know where he's going to go. We were hoping to use this year to show schools what he can do, but that's just not happening with the pandemic in California. He's got some options to run in college, but he'd like to stay close to home."

Torres said he may decide to attend Hancock College and could run there, depending on the conditions amid the pandemic. Torres also qualified for the state meet as a sophomore in 2018.

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