For the second time in as many years a Fairfield Prep cross country runner will race for the national championship.
Alvarado is the third Prep racer to reach the Foot Locker Nationals. Brian McGovern also ran twice, in 1999 and 2000, when the national race was held in Orlando, Fla.
"I really feel fortunate as a coach," said Prep coach Bob Ford Jr., who also coached both McGovern and Rog. "You can be a very good coach and have some very good athletes and never get to San Diego."
That Alvarado is in a position to even race at nationals is impressive to Ford. Alvarado suffered an injury in his foot midway through -- he missed two weeks of racing -- and continues to nurse the injury with rest, ice, compression and elevation.
"Through serious adversity, he's managed to keep that focus when it would've been easy to give up," Ford said. "No one would've criticized him if he did."
Alvarado has developed a less taxing workout, aimed at keeping stress off his foot but still helping him maintain his fitness.
"I've been diligent going on the bike to cross-train and to the Fairfield University pool to aqua jog," he said.
Ford credited Alvarado's work ethic, especially since his injury came at the end of the season and they coped without a definitive diagnosis. The junior was on crutches for nearly a week, raced the SCC meet in training shoes, then skipped the Class LL meet and due to his foot ailment.
"Christian's been good about the alternative training," Ford said. "He took that stuff to heart."
Alvarado qualified for nationals after his eighth-place finish at Foot Locker Northeast Regionals in New York's Van Cortlandt Park on Nov. 24. Alvarado finished in 15:49.10, just 1.8 seconds ahead of ninth-place Brent Kennedy of Pennsylvania.
"The course was pretty challenging," Alvarado said. "I was ecstatic, I couldn't believe it."
After Prep had never had an indivdual champion in the 4K Jesuit Championship until Rog won the crown a year ago, Alvarado finished first in the nine-team regional race-- held Nov. 17 at Van Cortlandt. Alvarado beat second-place Tyler Spear of Loyola Blakefield (Md.) by more than 15 seconds, with a time of 12:55.19.
Alvarado deemed that experience important.
"I was more calm the second time," Alvarado said. "The first time, I kind of screwed up ... I was definitely more relaxed going into [the regional race]."
Ford also believes more good fortune was involved, thanks to Prep's location. Van Cortlandt is only 46 miles from Prep's campus.
"It's awfully convenient for us," he said. "We're only an hour away."
Rog -- the standout Prep runner, who finished as ACC Freshman of the year at the University of Virginia this fall -- fell 17 places short of New Jersey's Edward Chesererk a year ago. Alvarado expects the St. Benedict's Prep senior to repeat as the national champ.
"He's so fast," Alvarado said of Cheserek.
Still, Alvarado's set a realistic goal for himself.
"I'm not sure if the course is fast enough for a [personal record]," he said. "I think a top-30 finish is a reasonable goal. I just want to represent Prep, Fairfield and New England the best I can."
Ford believes as the race gets closer, the standout -- a nominee for Gatorade State Runner of the Year -- should set his sights higher.
"He has tremendous foot speed and I think it's going to be a fast race," he said. "I'm hoping Christian keeps raising his expectations. I don't think you run for a top-30 spot, I think you end in the top-30 because that's where you finish."