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‘Horse Thighs’ runs rapid for Cross Country

Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) out sprints Riverside City Colleges Michael Simpson to finish in third place of the of the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside, Calif. on Sept. 9, 2016. (Philip Farry/The Telescope)
Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) out sprints Riverside City College’s Michael Simpson to finish in third place of the of the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside, Calif. on Sept. 9, 2016. (Philip Farry/The Telescope)
Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) leads at the half way mark during the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside CA on Sept. 9. Ybarra finished third in the race with a time of 20:53.  Philip Farry / The Telescope
Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) leads at the half way mark during the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside CA on Sept. 9. Ybarra finished third in the race with a time of 20:53. Philip Farry / The Telescope

Ladies and Gentleman! Come one! Come all! Prepare to be amazed, shocked, and left in awe! Is he a man? Or is he a horse? Or is he both? Introducing the one they call ‘Horse Thighs.’

Mark Ybarra, 18, is a freshman who studies construction inspection at Palomar and is already one of the brightest young stars on the cross country team.

He was first informed about the sport during his eighth grade year when he saw a brochure from Mission Hills High School. Ybarra said he was also inspired by Cameron Barela who ran on the cross country team for Vanguard University.

Ybarra said he began by training in track and field and made the transition to cross country during the summer before his freshman year of high school.

During the Palomar invitational on Sept. 9, the cross country team had a unique presence when Ybarra began his stretches by wearing a horse mask. According to Ybarra, he was given the nickname ‘Horse Thighs’ in high school and has since kept that nickname.

“One of my friends bought that for me (the horse mask) because they call me Horse Thighs,” Ybarra said. “I run like a horse, eat like a horse, so I like to wear that mask often.”

His teammate, Matthew De Haven said that some of the teammates bought the mask for Ybarra as a joke, but like his nickname Horse Thighs, Ybarra embraced the mask and actually does workouts with it.

Ybarra has already had a productive season for Palomar this year. During the Palomar Invitational at Guajome Park he finished third out of 137, and first among freshman. At the Coach Downey Invitational on Sept. 30, he finished first out of 37.

“I trained by myself for one year,” Ybarra said. “I had expectations of placing top 10 for most of these races.”

Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) leads the pack at the start of the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside CA on Sept 09. Ybarra finished third in the race with a time of 20:53.  Philip Farry / The Telescope
Palomar Freshman Mark Ybarra (606) leads the pack at the start of the Palomar College Cross Country Invitational held at Guajome Park in Oceanside CA on Sept 09. Ybarra finished third in the race with a time of 20:53. Philip Farry / The Telescope

Ybarra said his ultimate goal is to get in the top 10 or 15 in the state. De Haven, explained Ybarra’s development on the team.

“He’s grown far from not just running, but as an individual.”

De Haven said that Ybarra has developed as a student and as a teammate. Cross Country Head Coach Jennifer Williams said that Ybarra has also become one of the team’s leaders.

“He works well with everybody on the team, from our number two guy, to our number eight guy,” said Williams. “He’s a good leader, he leads by example.”

Look for Mark, ‘Horse Thighs’, Ybarra to run, or gallop, strong for the remainder of the 2016 season.

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‘Horse Thighs’ runs rapid for Cross Country