Ryen Frazier of Ravenscroft School battled Nevada Mareno of Leesville Road High last weekend on the national stage in one of the premier races of the National Scholastic New Balance Nationals Indoors in New York.
Mareno held off Frazier down the stretch on Sunday to win the girls one-mile run with a 4:43.23. Frazier finished second with a 4:44.48.
New York is a long way to go to race a neighbor, but the two Raleigh teens had only raced one time previously, an easy victory by Frazier in a one-miler in Winston-Salem.
“She smoked me. She won by about 20 seconds,” Mareno said. “I didn’t know if I could do it.
“My coach, Jerry Canada, kept telling me that I could, and he said my workouts showed that I could.”
Mareno built confidence Saturday night in a 3200m relay. She ran a personal best by seven seconds. She helped the Leesville Track Club – athletes cannot compete for their high school teams in national meets because of state athletic regulations – to finish second in the relay, 9:03.63.
The Virginia-based Western Branch Track Club won with a 9:02.27, while Leesville (Taylor Hemming, G’Jasmyne Butler, Sydney Winchel and Mareno) posted the fastest time ever indoors (9.03.63) by North Carolina high school girls.
Meanwhile, Frazier was dazzling the nation with her endurance.
Frazier was second in the 5,000 meters on Saturday, pushing winner Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka, Ind., to a national record (16:10.79). Frazier ran a 16:12.81.
The two runners lapped most of their competition and were almost 30 seconds ahead of third-place Stephanie Jenks of Aurora, Iowa (16:40.13).
On the last lap, Frazier tried to pass on the back straight and again coming off the last turn, but Rohrer held off Frazier and pulled away.
On Sunday, Frazier came back to win the two-mile (10:02.86) about an hour before the race with Mareno in the mile.
“I saw her run that two-mile and figured if I ever had a chance to beat her, it was now. She had run two great races,” Mareno said. “I ran second or third most of the race, but passed her on the last straight. She is such a competitor. I thought I had to make a move then or miss my chance.”
When Frazier had completed her three distance events, she tweeted, “Can’t say racing 6 miles in 3 days was easy, but I can definitely say it was worth it. Crazy weekend. Amazing competition. Great experience.”
Mareno’s adventures were just beginning. Her family had driven to Washington, D.C., and taken a bus to New York for the meet.
The return bus was two hours late, and she didn’t reach D.C., until 12:45 a.m. Monday. The lot where the car was parked closed at midnight and didn’t open until 6 a.m.
“We spent five hours in the bus station, waiting to get our car,” Mareno said. “But winning a national championship is pretty amazing. The whole meet was just amazing.”
Other area competitors
Apex’s Sydnei Murphy had a pair of top five finishes. She was fourth in the long jump (19 feet, 1.59 inches) and led the triple jump for much of the competition before finishing second.
Murphy led with a leap of 42-3/4, until winner Asa Garcia of Texas City, Texas bounded 43-2 1/4.
Cary’s Layla White was second in the girls 400 (54.6), and Apex’s Anna Eaton was fourth in the pole vault (13 feet, .75 inches).
The Raleigh Junior Striders (Je’May Ward, Breanne Bygrave, Kellsie Whitehead and Tia Robinson) were fifth in the 1600m relay (3:50.95).