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What puts the pep in runner Gabbi Espinoza's step? It's probably Bomba

Chaparral graduate Gabbi Espinoza excels on the track and on the dance floor. Her family's tradition of the Puerto Rican dance Bomba gives her an extra boost.

DENVER — It takes a certain rhythm to be an efficient runner. It takes even more rhythm to be an effective musician. Gabbi Espinoza found the interconnection between the two.

"I'm part of a Puerto Rican ensemble and I play the drums, I sing, dance," Espinoza said. "It's a very community-oriented type of gathering."

As she moved out from behind a leather-covered drum with a microphone, over to the cleared out dance floor at Raices Brewing Company, Espinoza took control of the beat.

"It's definitely more freestyle," she said. "You can just move your body however you want and the drum is going to follow you."

The dance is Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican style of music and dance.

"It's a time to tap into my roots and feel what my ancestors were feeling," she said.

Espinoza also dances flamenco, a traditional Spanish dance, with her father's band.

It takes stamina to maintain the consistent beat, but stamina is nothing new to a CHSAA track and field state finalist at Chaparral High School. Espinoza said she uses consistent breathing to balance both of her passions.

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Credit: KUSA Sports

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"A lot of it is just breathing and breath work and kind of centering myself because it's just me, and myself, and I when I'm running," she said. "Even in a relay, whatever mindset I have is going to determine the race."

It's that same mindset that she uses before a big race or a performance to premeditate a positive outcome.

"It's me expressing my emotions and expressing how I'm feeling," she said. "I always want to have that positive outlook, but just know that this is me telling my story."

Her life story, that is about as linear as the curves of the track, or as predictable as the beat of the Bomba.

"Just to know that I'm not just who you see, I'm a lot more than that, especially in this community," Espinoza said. "People who see me when I am dancing Bomba, they obviously don't know that I'm an athlete and a student that has different layers and different personalities that they don't necessarily express."

Espinoza begins her college career at the University of Colorado in the fall as an astrophysics and planetary science hopeful. She's continuing her track training through freshman year on her own, and has not given up on a chance to pursue that passion at the collegiate level.

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