It's fitting that Diana Guido's favorite events in track and field are the hurdles.
In the Estancia High junior's life there have been many hurdles to clear. One came just two weeks before she competed in the Orange Coast League finals. Negative thoughts began to creep in, as doctors told her something was wrong with her heart, again.
Last year, she was told to cease all athletic activity because of an irregular heartbeat. She was crushed, not being able to participate in any sports this past summer.
But in the fall, she received clearance to play again. She competed in volleyball. She had to give up cheerleading because she knew it was all just too much.
Later in the spring, she went out for the track team, like she had the two previous years.
It's been fun going up against other athletes in the 300-meter hurdles, her specialty event. But she knew something was wrong two weeks ago.
More tests were required. Diana needed to wear a heart monitor during school.
"It was scary at first because I looked like a robot," Diana said. "I tried to cover it up with the clothes I wore."
Diana wanted to get back on the track, back to hopping over hurdles. Finally there was more of a handle on what was going on with her heart.
Diana said her heart skipped a beat at times, but then would beat extra fast to catch up to the rhythm once again. The doctor said it was manageable and that competing would be OK.
"I was OK with that," said Adela Ramirez, Diana's mom. "I just always want the best for her. Of course, I am concerned, but she got cleared. I remember before, in the summer, she got so mad at me because she wasn't allowed to do anything."
Diana made the most of her new opportunity at the OCL finals May 5. She set a personal record in the 300 hurdles, finishing in 49.67 seconds. It was good for third place and landed her a qualifying spot in Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division III preliminaries at Jim Scott Stadium. Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa will also be featured in the meet, that has field events starting at 11 a.m. and track events beginning at noon. Diana will also compete in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Diana was happy with her performance in the league finals, but of course she wanted to win. As a freshman, she was the OCL champ in the 300 hurdles. She finished second last year. Next year she wants to reclaim that league title.
Put her in her lane and some hurdles in front of her and she will give it her all. She's always had that drive. She knows the motivation is deep within her, it's in her blood, running through her veins. She comes from a family of fighters.
Diana and her sister, Grace, have always had to fight after their father, Cesar Guido, died when Diana was 11 months old in El Salvador. Diana keeps a photo of him in her room and another picture in her locker.
As a politician, he was shot in the leg while campaigning, Diana said. He needed to have his leg amputated. But he refused because he wanted to be able to dance with his daughters when they grew up for their Quinceañera, the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday.
The bullet wound took its toll and eventually wore down Diana's dad, she said. It's a sad story, but Diana now tells it with a matter-of-fact tone. Her mother was set to marry Cesar, but that never came about. Soon, Adela had to leave what she thought to be such a promising, happy family life.
After the tragedy struck and the fear set in for more trouble to come, Adela left El Salvador with her daughters.
Adela has done her best as a single parent. Diana says she's learned how to persevere because of her mother's strength. Adela excelled in softball in El Salvador. She was also on the verge of earning a college degree in engineering.
Diana likes to say she got her athletic genes from her mother and Grace got her academic prowess from Adela. Grace, a senior at Estancia, is on her way to UCLA, where she'll study comparative literature.
Diana and Grace continue to work hard, as part of their father's legacy, and also because they know their mother has worked so hard to give them the best opportunities.
This past Tuesday, they celebrated Día de las Madres (Mother's Day) with a barbecue dinner. Every year, Diana, 16, and Grace, 18, try to make it special for Adela. This year they teased their mother.
Every morning the sisters like to make coffee for their mamá. But on Tuesday, they didn't make any for Adela and acted as if they were too busy to remember the special day.
But just before dinner, they invited their grandmother, Teresa (Adela's mom), over for the party, and gave Adela hugs and flowers for her day.
Diana knows they owe her a lot. In a way, every day is Mother's Day.
Diana and Grace will continue to make Adela proud, even if it takes clearing some hurdles.