Photo by Max Tepper. Isabel Perez-Zoghbi flys over a hurdle at a home track meet.

From DMs to DII National Championship: Isabel Perez-Zoghbi

Isabel Perez-Zoghbi excels on the track

by Vanessa Saltos

Isabel Perez-Zoghbi is a 2nd year student from Merced, California. Perez-Zoghbi was a long distance runner throughout her whole life, running cross country and track. She thought her career would be done after highschool and was planning on attending Cal Poly Humboldt in Fall 2022. While scrolling through social media, she came across a video of Cal Poly Humboldt’s very own Joy Hano running the 60-meter hurdles. 

“I saw Joy and I thought she was amazing, and I was just like clearly they must have some good hurdles coaches there because Joy’s doing fantastic,” Perez-Zoghbi said. 

Once realizing there was a track program, she took it upon herself to direct message Hano. According to Hano, Perez-Zoghbi asked about the program, what Hano’s favorite part about running in college was, and how she wanted to get better at hurdles. Perez-Zoghbi had only started running hurdles her junior year of high school, so she saw this as a learning opportunity. This direct message on Instagram led to a recruitment visit with the track coaches, and Hano was able to meet her in person for the first time. 

“Meeting her for that first time, it got me excited about hurdles again cause I could just feel her pure love for the sport, and at that point in my season I was, not going throughout, but it was just a low part of season,” Hano said. “Having her energy around, even just on her recruit visit, brought up my energy, brought up [my] team’s energy, and I just had a great feeling about her.” 

Hano was right about that feeling, because during Perez-Zoghbi’s first year at Cal Poly Humboldt she made huge waves in the program. She qualified for the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field National Championships after running a personal record of 1:00.54 in the 400-meter hurdles. At Nationals in Colorado, she finished nineteenth overall. 

During her 2023 campaign, she did face some setbacks. Dealing with a hamstring injury, she was kept from competing in a couple of races. Hano recalls a moment at the 2023 Stanford Invitational where Perez-Zoghbi was scratched from the weekend last minute due to her hamstring. Hano and Perez-Zoghbi took walks around Stanford’s facilities and reminded each other about the amazing opportunities they both have. 

“Isa’s really good about remaining grateful, and it was just during that weekend that I just had to remind her we are in an amazing opportunity to do the thing we love and if anything, missing this right now is just going to make you want it more,” Hano said. “Sure enough after that point in season she continued to rehab her hamstring, she continued to play smarter not harder with her hamstring and made the most out of every day she could.”

The knowledge that her coaches bring has helped grow her obsession with the sport. Her teammates contribute to this as well. They inspire her daily with their dedication to training and work ethic. She sees how happy people are just to be given the opportunity to participate. What keeps Perez-Zoghbi motivated through it all is her love for pushing herself to her limits.

“I am always trying to improve and get a better time, and push myself to where I am like dying at the end of practice and I’m like on the floor, can’t breathe,” Perez-Zoghbi said. “Just like that physical challenge and mental challenge of pushing yourself to your limit that’s why I do it.”

Her teammates feed off of this mindset as well. Hano views her as a role model, despite Perez-Zoghbi being younger. Hano knows that whenever they train together, there will be no slacking of any kind. This has only pushed Hano mentally and physically. Her coaches see this determination as well. Cal Poly Humboldt Assistant Sprint and Hurdles coach Kate Eilers expressed Perez-Zoghbi’s tenacity on the track and compared her competitive drive to that of a veteran. 

“I love coaching Isabel. She recognizes the value of the time she has here as an athlete and uses every second of it. She is always looking to improve, asking questions and diligently implementing feedback,” Eilers said. “She’s a joy to coach, a supportive teammate and an all around incredible person who knows how to pursue success.”

Perez-Zoghbi expressed her goals for this upcoming season, which are becoming an All-American and breaking the school record. The current record holder is Alyssabeth DeJerez with a time of 58.68 in 2017. The main goal this season though is winning the conference. Currently Perez-Zoghbi is training for the 2024 season which is set to start on Feb. 18.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program