Going the Distance

Alex Verdelus, Sports Editor

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Cross country requires a lot of determination. The rigorous and demanding sport is only one of the challenges junior Daniel Marrero faces as he strives to become one of the school’s all-time top runners in a sport he’s cherished since eighth grade.

Marrero talked about some of the challenges he faces.

“It’s really hard, actually, when I get out of work late and have a hard time falling asleep. It’s hard to balance it,” Marrero said.

That hasn’t stopped him from keeping himself in shape and ready for those weekly Saturday meets.

“No matter what I have to do, running everyday really helps in my conditioning,” Marrero said.

Scheduling and body upkeep haven’t been the only obstacles for Marrero this season. Other runners who have presented him with real competition for the top running spot.

“There were two newcomers that came in, one was a senior from Dr. Phillips. He was really fast, and it really made me step up my training and try to get better,” Marrero said. “The freshman that came in recently was also really fast. It forced me to get some weight off and work harder, because you can’t let them beat you.”

Making his coaches proud and earning their respect motivated Marrero, too.

“They’re the one’s that train you and get you to come out. So as much as you’re doing it for yourself and your family, you’re also doing it for them as well,” Daniel said. “You don’t want your coaches to look at you and be like ‘Uh, it’s just another runner.’ You always want your coaches to be proud of you, and I think that’s a strong driving force not just for me but for every runner.”

Boys cross country coach Larance Ford had strong words to say of his star runner, praising him on his drive and resolute character.

“One of the greatest attributes that I probably would give him is his dedication and hard work to the craft. He shows great determination and will to improve his time and also his education when it comes to running,” Ford said. “He reads articles and motivates and helps others, and he is also a great student.”

Although he didn’t realize his talent until late into his middle school years, Marrero has prided himself in being a great runner. As he has matured, he has started to gain confidence from favorable results.

“Seventh grade, I remember having track tryouts. I didn’t make the team. It wasn’t really something I was really interested in at the time,” said Marrero. “Eighth grade was where I really took off. I remember tryouts were a mile and I beat everybody. That’s when I knew I could seriously do this and after that I would start every morning just running to try to improve myself.”

Since then on, Marrero has received very esteemed and well-earned rewards and praises. Last year, he was able to win both the track and field and cross country MVP awards at his middle school. He recalls receiving the awards as his proudest moments as a runner.

“I expected to win the cross country MVP. It was my second year in a row winning it,” Marrero said. “With the track and field one, I was kind of surprised. I thought one of the other big guys might take it but I was able to win that award too and I was real heavy about that. It meant a lot.”

As a premier and skilled runner, Marrero hopes to have even more success in both cross country and track and field with long term aspirations already set in his mind.

“I want to break the school record for cross country. I want to try to get into low 16s, time-wise,” said Marrero, ”I want to make it to the state meet either this year or next year and eventually transition to college.”