Leesville Road’s Nevada Mareno set the N.C. High School Athletic Association record for the girls 1,000 meters in 2014 as a freshman. The championship, and the record, was one of the most surprising things in her life.
Mareno had never attended an indoor meet before the start of the Pride’s indoor season, didn’t know there was an indoor season, didn’t know they raced on a 200-meter track and was unaware of how different indoor track was from anything she had done.
She had run in one outdoor track meet as a seventh-grader before she joined the Pride indoor squad and hadn’t practiced on any track except during cross country workouts. Indoor track was a new world – loud and confusing.
“I was used to cross country,” she said. “It was hard to get my head right before the races. It was loud. I was used to running outdoors. The air was dry.”
She was seeded fifth or sixth in the 1,000 and Leesville coach Jerry Canada surprised her when he said for her to go win the race.
“I don’t think I had run the 1,000 more than two or three times,” Mareno said. “I was seeded fifth or sixth and I thought there was no way. He said go out and see what happens. I was with the leaders with 200 meters left and just ran.”
She finished in a record 2 minutes, 56.24 seconds to surpass the record by 0.46 seconds. She nipped second-place Casey Greenwalt of Asheville Roberson, who also finished faster than the previous record.
Mareno, who was fourth in this fall’s 4A cross country championships, loves to run ... sort of.
“People say, ‘Oh, you’re a runner. You must love it.’ No. Not always. There are days that I hate running,” she said. “But there is nothing that can give you more satisfaction. Running can give you the greatest feeling.”
Unlike many indoor track champions, Mareno doesn’t run outdoor track. She plays soccer for the Pride in the spring.
“I play soccer for fun,” she said. “After cross country and indoor track, I’m sort of burned out. I really enjoy playing soccer with the other girls.”
Teams to watch
Apex: Sydnei Murphy set the N.C. High School Athletic Association record with a winning leap of 19 feet, 4 inches in the 4A indoor long jump. She was third in the 55-meter dash (7.11 seconds). Senior Anna Eaton won the pole vault (12 feet). The Cougars were fifth in the 2014 4A team scoring.
Cardinal Gibbons: The Crusaders were second in the 3A indoor championships in 2014 and recently won the 3A cross country championships. Sophie Ebihara, Marissa Bishop, Megan Vaughn and Annie Pierce finished among the cross country top 10. Ebihara won the indoor 3,200-meter championship (10:55.82). Senior Kayla Gandy was fourth in the 55 hurdles (8.85 seconds).
Cary: Junior Charminique Hackney won the 4A 55-meter dash (7.05) to help the Imps finish third. Layla White won the 500 (1:15.12) and was fifth in the 300 (40.25). Lakeisha Warner was third in the 500 (1:16.59).
Durham Arts: The Bulldogs were third in the 1A/2A championships and return sophomore Simi Gbadegesin, sophomore Destiny Stevens and junior Lydia Gamble from the winning 1,600-meter relay.
Green Hope: The Falcons won their sixth consecutive NCHSAA 4A cross country championship as junior Elly Henes won the individual title (18:02). Henes won indoors in the 1,600 (5:10.77) last year.
Wakefield: The Wolverines had a three-year championship streak stopped as Winston-Salem Parkland nipped Wakefield 51-49 to claim the 4A title. Senior Tia Robinson was second in the 500 (1:15.87).
Athletes to watch
K’Lynn Beal, Sr., Broughton: Third in the 4A triple jump (36 feet, 5.5 inches).
Jordyn Brown, Sr., Durham Jordan: Won the 4A indoor high jump title by clearing 5 feet, 4 inches.
Alex Council, Sr., Northwood: Won the 3A 55-meter dash (7.24 seconds).
Lydia Gamble, Jr., Durham Arts: Second in the 1A/2A 500 (1:20.59).
Rebekah Greengrass, Sr., Panther Creek: Third in the 1,600 indoors (5:08.79).
Anna Passannante, Jr., Chapel Hill: Fourth in 3A 1,000 (3:06.19).
Arden Vessie, Sr., Corinth Holders: Fourth in 3A 1,600 (5:18.05).