Penfield Athlete May Run on World Stage
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Penfield senior Leila Mantilla could soon be heading abroad to compete.
While winning the AAU 3,000 meter run last August, Mantilla befriended a runner from Puerto Rico. Leila's father, Eduardo, is of half Puerto Rican descent, and that's where the story got interesting.
Local USA track coach Cedric Walker started working with track officials in Puerto Rico, and soon after she graduates from Penfield in June, Leila, who will attend Columbia University in the fall, could be traveling to El Salvador for a Caribbean junior meet, where she would represent Puerto Rico in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.
If she does well, one of New York State's top 2,000 meter steeplechasers could run in the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in July.
"I'm only a quarter Puerto Rican because my dad is part Colombian, part Puerto Rican, so I didn't think I was Puerto Rican enough to run for them, I guess," Leila said.
One of the girls who was in my race in the 3,000, she came in third, I told her I was Puerto Rican too and we started talking about it. She gave me a flag from Puerto Rico and she signed it, it was really cute and my coach was like, maybe I'll talk to Ced and see if that can happen. He was like, yeah, she's Puerto Rican enough, so he's going for it, I guess."