Nevada Mareno, a Leesville cross country runner, was ranked number one in the nation. On December 3, in San Diego, California, Mareno will take on a group of the best high school runners at the US Foot Locker Nationals.
Mareno is the first Leesville cross country athlete — male or female — to qualify and compete at nationals. Last year as a junior, Mareno finished a 5k in 17:05, landing her on the podium in third place after a close battle against other top competitors.
“I’m pretty positive that no matter how the race goes, I’ll be able to get myself in position at the end of the hill; once I get up the hill, there’s only three hundred meters left. You can do anything in those three hundred meters,” said Mareno about going into Foot Locker Nationals this December.
Mareno had been checking the top twenty-five rankings countdown on Twitter and figured that she’d be somewhere in the mix — based on how well she placed last year. “I thought I’d be more excited about it, but it’s a lot of pressure. I’m supposed to be the best in the whole nation,” said Mareno.
Karen Hawkins, Leesville’s cross country coach, said, “The first 5k race she ran in, she came up to me and told me she was scared to run because she didn’t think she was ‘cut-out for cross country’. I tried to convince her back then how special she was but she just didn’t know it yet,”.
“In my opinion, Nevada is one of those ‘once in a generation runner’ who not only has the ability to be great but who deeply desires to put in the work and sacrifices required to be great,” said Hawkins.
Mareno’s countless hours of training and dedication have helped her become the number one ranked runner in the nation.