Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the athletes that a 4A public high school like Leesville has to offer. Especially in less covered sports like, say, track. However as junior Nevada Mareno continues to break more and more records, it’s becoming harder and harder to take this athlete for granted.
Last weekend was the NCHSAA 4A state championships for Boys and Girls Track, and the Leesville junior was amongst those honored to be there. Mareno collected not one, not two, but three titles before the end of the day–two of which were overshadowed by the record times in which she won the events. She was named the meet MVP shortly after her record setting day.
The first event of the day for Mareno was the 1,600 meter (one mile) race. Mareno finished first in a competitive field, but was just a second off the state record for that event. Had Mareno not been “conserving energy” for the next two events, she very well could be sitting on three state records.
Following the 1,600 meter were the 800 meter and 3,200 meter races. It was almost like Mareno got better throughout the day; she ended up winning her next event by a whopping 30 seconds with a time of 10:17. To put that in perspective, Mareno was probably sitting in a chair cooling off by the time her opponents began to cross the finish line.
Mareno also set the state record in the 800, with a time of 2:08. G’Jasmyne Butler, Mareno’s longtime teammate, was a close second with 2:10. This wasn’t the first time those two finished at the top of the pack either; Mareno and Butler are used to setting the pace for the rest of the field.
“G’Jas is a fearless runner,” said Mareno. “I look forward to racing her because we bring out the best in each other; her strengths are my weaknesses.”
Mareno and Butler were also on the Leesville 4 X 800 Relay team with Taylor Hemming and Timara Chapman as the other half of the foursome. The girls combined to finish in 9:06.82, which was enough for another first place finish.
Looking forward, Mareno has an even bigger competition to prepare for. As a result of her record-breaking performance at States, she was invited to Nationals in Boston. There she will be matched against the nation’s top high school milers and it will be financed by Adidas. Her event will be the 1,500 meter race on Friday night.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mareno will hit the road, catch an early flight, and head back to Raleigh so she can compete in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro. All in a day, Mareno will land in Raleigh at noon, make the two hour drive to Greensboro, and then race the 2 mile that afternoon. Not done yet, Mareno will head back out to Greensboro Sunday to race the 1 mile race before she can head back home. Mareno commented on the challenge ahead.
“Those meets are WAY more competitive because people come from all over the country. They’ll be crazy challenging (because of the talent level),” said Mareno. “Those are my main focus individually–states was more for the team.”
Mareno is no stranger to national meets. In fact, she’s got a national title under her belt already. She took home first place in the mile race last year, beating out Ryen Frazier at the New Balance Nationals. So before you take Leesville athletics for granted again, remember Nevada Mareno. It’s a name that shouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon, and probably won’t be.