Isabel Conde De Frankenberg started to run when she was in kindergarten and she still has a few more mountains to climb.
The freshman from Cedar Park began to run because it made her feel good. She and her family ran the annual Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot in downtown Austin. When her father, Mariano, suggested she run the one-mile race, she convinced him to let her run the five-mile course.
It’s hard to say no to a 5-year-old runner who doesn’t know when to stop.
At 15, Conde De Frankenberg has established herself as one of the state’s elite high school distance runners. She won the Class 5A state cross country championship in the fall by an astounding 19 seconds. When the UIL State Track and Field Championships convene Thursday through Saturday at Myers Stadium, she will be among the youngest — and most talented runners — in the field.
Conde De Frankenberg is so humble, she shushes her parents and siblings when they speak about her accomplishments to others. She also doesn’t jinx herself by speaking to friends or family members about upcoming events.
It’s safe to say the Timberwolf is a big favorite to win the 3,200 meters on Friday. When she earned her ticket to state with a time of 10 minutes, 34.8 seconds two weeks ago at the Region IV finals in San Antonio, the girl who finished in second place was 20 seconds behind her pace.
Conde De Frankenberg figures she has a leg up on most of her competitors because she started running at such a young age. Keeping up with her older siblings — brothers Augusto and Octavio and sister Candelaria — motivated her to excel. She has high standards for herself, adding she hopes to receive an athletic scholarship after she finishes high school in 2024.
“I just love the sport,” Conde De Frankenberg said after an early-morning workout on Wednesday. “It’s a healthy sport and I train hard. It keeps my head in the game.”
Cedar Park coach Chance Edwards said Conde De Frankenberg, who stands at 5-foot-3, has the stride of a runner who is 5-10.
“I first saw Isabel when I took the job (at Cedar Park) when she was still in seventh grade (at Cedar Park Middle School),” Edwards said. “I went to a high school meet and watched her beat the other kids significantly. When she came to high school, we just started working and that’s made her even better.”
Conde De Frankenberg could double her medal count if she fares well in the 800 meters. She’s the No. 2 qualifier in the event.
Spanish was Conde De Frankenberg’s first language and her parents still speak Spanish to her inside their home. Mariano and his wife, Adriana Uriburu, are from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which has a metro population of 15.2 million. Mariano moved to Austin when he was 10 and is a graduate of Austin High.
“Obviously we are super proud of her,” Mariano said. “The important thing is that we want her to enjoy running. We’ve always been careful not to pressure her into anything and set unrealistic expectations. Running should not be the be-all, end-all of someone’s life.”
When asked why his youngest child has a competitive streak, Mariano had a quick answer: “Whenever we play anything, everyone wants to win. She’s always just wanted to be part of the tumble.”
Isabel grew up watching her older siblings compete in various sports. Running and playing sports was her way of fitting in.
Conde De Frankenberg has a soft side, too. Edwards recalls a moment at a junior high track and field meet this spring. When Conde De Frankenberg saw that one runner was well behind the pack, she decided to help the girl. When the runner was heading down the final stretch, she was shocked to see Isabel running by her side. There were hugs at the finish line.
When Conde De Frankenberg is not running, she often can be found walking on neighborhood trails.
“I really love nature and animals and plants,” she said. “If my mom and I see a tiny little spider or a beetle in the house, we’ll try to save it. We’re nature friendly. We’ve got ducks and chickens in the backyard. We have fresh eggs every day.”
Come Friday, it’s back to business. Isabel has a chance to win a pair of medals at the state meet. Preferably gold. She makes no predictions. Her only plan is to let her feet do the talking.
Time to tumble.