AOTW: Franco Balbuena, sophomore cross country runner

Why Franco Balbuena was selected: Franco Balbuena finished 13th overall in the Dutchmen Invitational hosted by Lebanon Valley College. This finish was the fourth-best time in program history. Congratulations, Franco.


Franco Balbuena Sophomore XC Runner

Name: Franco Balbuena

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Psychology

Hometown: Wilkes-Barre

High School: Coughlin

What was your driving force to attend Wilkes?

Wilkes is close to home which made it easier on me and my family financially and geographically, since my family has only one car. I commute every day which isn’t that bad, especially since it keeps you in shape.

Post graduation plans in terms of a career?

If I do well in the ROTC program here at Wilkes, it is my hope to join the ranks of the Air Force and become an RPA (Remote Piloted Aircraft) Pilot.

What came first? The chicken or the egg?

Definitely the egg, the chicken is a mutated bird dinosaur.

Hopes for this season as a Colonel?

It is my hope to make it to the regionals race this season, or be faster than I was last year, which is a long shot but I have to shoot for something big.

When/Why did you first begin racing?

In the beginning I just wanted to get out of my “soccer star” cousin’s shadow and joined track my sophomore year in high school. Afterwards I tried out cross country and I saw I did so well that I just stuck with running.

Other interests or hobbies off of the field?

I enjoy playing soccer and volleyball when I’m free and able to relax. I also like to play pool and have a good time with both family and friends alike.

Favorite professor?

I really can’t pick with this either. Dr. Schicatano helps me keep a positive attitude and also makes me excited to learn more. Dr. Terzaghi helps me with study tips and also made planning ahead on a college level a lot more comprehendible. Mr. Kovacs helps me relax and keep things simple instead of over-thinking it and putting in extra details that aren’t needed.

Most influential person in your life?

I could never choose one. My brother for helping me when I needed it, my mother for pushing me, my father for never giving up on me, my great grandmother for giving me the power to run with my heart, and my uncle Tony for showing me how to keep fighting and going with no excuses.

A quote you live your life by?

“If you really want that medal kid, remember that every moment of pain is worth it. You and I both know one of those medals belong around your neck. You have to show it tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how badly you’re hurting, if you really want that medal you’ll get it one way or another. You will have your own, don’t watch someone else take what’s yours.” “Every moment of pain is worth a lifetime of success.” – Paul McGrane

What does “Be Colonel” mean to you?

To me it means to rise up to the challenge. I don’t want to be someone who is weak, but I also don’t want to be someone who is foolish with power. I want to be someone who can fight when there must be fighting and someone who can talk when there must be talking. It means, to me, to help when help is needed and not just asked for. To stand to the side and let events happen that shouldn’t even exist anymore is non-existent to me at this point. I want to fight for a future where we are unified, not for our own personal gain.

If you could have dinner with a famous person from the past, who would it be?

Nikola Tesla, his work in electricity would have changed the world and to hear about that and about him would be incredible to me.

Anyone to give a shout-out to?

Definitely my family and friends who have supported me when even I thought I couldn’t make it. They give me the strength to keep pushing when I have nothing left.