SAN BENITO — San Benito senior John Castro knew he wanted his track & field career to be a long one as soon as it started, and he made that dream come true.

On Thursday, Castro signed to run track for Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. He’ll be competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference at the NAIA level and study physical education, with plans to become a strength & conditioning coach.

“It’s a real big, exciting feeling. I’m ready for the next journey. It’s a big stepping stone, and I’m just happy to share it with my family and everyone,” Castro said. “(I’ve wanted this) for a very long time. Since seventh grade I’ve always been really good at track, and it’s been something that I love to do. It kind of comes natural, but I do love the hard work and all that.”

Castro won the District 32-6A championship in the 300-meter hurdles this season, running a 41.20. He finished fifth in the 110 hurdles and was part of San Benito’s fifth-place 1,600 relay team. He also competes in the long jump.

He’ll continue as a hurdler for the Bluejays and potentially compete in other events. The distances in hurdle races are different in college, and Castro is welcoming the challenge of adjusting to those changes. Moving far from home also will be a challenge, but the senior feels “up for it” and is comforted by Tabor’s welcoming environment and the opportunities it presents beyond athletics.

“Tabor was the right place, and I chose it because not only do I get to further my education and my athletic abilities, but I also get to further my walk with God,” Castro said. “The school is real Christian-based and it’s a really nice environment, and I’m excited for that. I heard the school has really good internships with bigger schools and colleges, and that’s something I really would like to do.”

San Benito track coach Chris Mojica credited Castro’s competitive attitude and willingness to work as two of the main factors that helped him achieve this goal. Mojica said having Castro sign to continue his career motivates his younger teammates, who were at the ceremony to celebrate, to strive to do the same.

“It’s awesome to see him go to the next level,” Mojica said. “John’s one of those types of kids that just works hard every single day, and I’m just amazed at all the work and effort he’s put in since he’s been here. He definitely deserves this so I’m proud of him.

“He’s a competitor,” Mojica added. “He always wants to go out and be the best at his events, and be the best athlete that he can be. He comes to practice every single day and gives full effort, so that competitive nature in him and that work ethic will definitely help him out at the next level.”

Mojica praised not only Castro’s athletic abilities, but also his leadership skills and dedication to being a helping hand and role model.

San Benito senior John Castro, center, signed to continue his track & field career at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas on Tuesday. He is the reigning District 32-6A champion in the 300 hurdles. By Claire Cruz, Valley Morning Star

“He’s able to show all of our other athletes what kind of leader he is and the person he is in the community,” Mojica said. “He’s always there whenever we ask him to do anything, whether it’s athletically or going out in the community and talking to other kids. He’s always there to help us out.”

Castro thanked his family and friends for pushing him and supporting him throughout his Greyhounds track & field career to help him reach this milestone.

“(I’m thankful for) my mom and dad for really pushing me, getting up in the early mornings, late nights coming home, picking me up, all those things. They pushed me a lot. And I would also say my friends, they helped me a lot through the long journey,” Castro said.

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