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Fresno State’s long distance running star Erick Garcia is preparing for the 2009 track and field season, and this year he has a new running partner, Paul Zwama, who will help him take the team to a new level.

Cross country star Garcia may have met his match


Jimmy McCue / Collegian File Photo
Paul Zwama has become Erick Garcia’s main training partner

Fresno State’s long distance running star Erick Garcia is preparing for the 2009 track and field season, and this year he has a new running partner, Paul Zwama, who will help him take the team to a new level.

“Two people from different walks of life came to Fresno and run together,” said distance and cross country coach Sean McManus. “When it comes to athletics, they found common ground.”

Garcia, born in Mexico, and Zwama, born in the Netherlands, both run the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. McManus said the team does a pretty good job staying together on the long runs, but when it comes to the hard workouts, Garcia and Zwama are training at the same levels.

In practice, if either of them is having an off day, the other runner will help by pulling him along, McManus said.

Garcia said that on days he doesn’t feel like running Zwama motivates him to go out there and do his best.

“I have never had a training partner at Erick’s level,” Zwama said. “It’s good to train together and push each other.”

Zwama says that both he and Garcia like to run behind people during practice, which causes some conflict in their training, especially if they have to hit a certain time or run a certain percentage.

“Every practice I go behind Paul,” Garcia said. “Then he wants me to take the lead, so I go in front of him. We switch off.”

Zwama enjoys Fresno’s focus

Garcia, who is coming off an impressive cross country season, said Zwama is a talented athlete who understands the sport and knows what it takes to be a good athlete.

McManus said it was a good opportunity to pick up a guy with high caliber and he was excited because of Garcia. Zwama did his homework and recognized that Garcia did well during cross country; it’s a good fit for both the team and for him.

Zwama came to the United States after his friend lived here for a couple of years. The friend told him stories on how the whole system of running is valued more than back at home.

“People thought you were crazy back at home,” Zwama said. “Here, running is more respected.”

Before transferring to Fresno State, Zwama attended the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

McManus said that Zwama wanted to transfer because he wasn’t getting the results that he wanted. He went through three different coaches in three semesters; now he is on his fourth coach in his fourth semester.

According to McManus, Zwama didn’t have consistency where he was. The workouts are adjusted so he can get used to the training. He didn’t do a lot of weight lifting in the past so he is sore from the adjustment.

On the track, Zwama has already hit a time of 30:40 for the 10,000 meter, 6.2 miles and 14:35 for the 5,000, 3.1 miles. Last year as a freshman, Garcia hit 14:57 for the 5,000 and a 9:16 for the 3,000 meter steeple chase.

The steeple chase is 200 meters shy of a two mile with four barriers and one water barrier. The barrier is 36 inches high and the water pit is 12 feet long and about 28 inches deep.

McManus said he hasn’t had a chance to see Zwama race yet.

“We will find out how his training translates to races,” McManus said. “Erick always races up to his ability. If Paul can run with Erick in training and runs with him in the races, they can do pretty well. Both have a chance to do well in WAC.”