May 12, 2021 401 PM
AUSTIN – Presidio senior and track athlete Marco Rey headed to Texas’ UIL state track meet last week, surpassing his personal best in the 3200m run and earning silver medals in the 1600m and 3200m races in the 3A division races on Thursday, May 6.
Rey, a 19 year old from Odessa who was raised in Ojinaga, started the meet by running in the two-mile race Thursday morning, finishing it in 9:32.30, barely five seconds behind Onalaska runner Will Boyce, who took first. Rey broke his own personal record by 10 seconds.
In the evening, Rey ran the one-mile race in a mere 4:27.56, finishing just one second shy of Boyce again. Rey earned two silver medals for his efforts on the track.
The senior runner’s road to the podium began early in his high school career. “I started running in my freshman year just for fun, I could say I was running as a hobby,” he said. He would spend his time running through the high altitudes around both Presidio and Ojinaga. “I trained in the mountains where there’s many hills, and places where I’m connected with nature.”
Coach Alonzo Samaniego nurtured Rey’s growth over the next few years and coached him through state competition this week. “Look at his times and you compare them, you can see the growth in that,” he said. While Samaniego helped the runner improve immensely, he is quick to credit Rey for much of his own success.
“The number one thing with Marco is he’s got a lot of discipline. He eats well and really takes care of his body,” the coach said. Even in the days in Austin leading up to his runs, they couldn’t go out to eat just anywhere, the coach said.
“I never had any problem with having a strict diet and giving up all the food we like,” Rey said. His willingness to sacrifice for his goals is something he has carried through every part of his running career. He missed dances, parties, cheat meals and hours of free time to instead focus on sharpening his stride.
“Sometimes I can’t sleep if I haven’t trained,” he explained. “My mind has, like, a training virus, it’s like an addiction to me.” His discipline and determination only grew from there.
“I remember when I was a sophomore and I was running against bigger kids than me and they were beating me,” Rey recalled. “On the way back home I cursed myself, saying how bad of a runner I was, and when I got home I did 100 push-ups and three extra miles of training for punishment.”
That year, Rey set a goal to break all of Jesse Ortiz’s times, the Presidio team’s top runner back in 2017. It took a couple years, but in his first meet of this season, Rey broke one of the records.
“Every time I set a goal in my head I will not rest until I reach it,” Rey said. “I don’t care if I train at 4 p.m. at 90 degrees, I don’t care.”
In the lead up to state, Rey broke a Texas region 1 record that had stood for over 34 years, running the 3200m in just 9:42.71.
In his departure for state competition, Presidio Elementary students lined O’Reilly Street in Presidio. Rey leapt from his police-escorted vehicle to dole out high fives to the young kids who chanted “Let’s go, Marco! Let’s go, Marco!”
Samaniego, who took Rey and a team of runners to the state cross-country where they placed first in the fall, said at first he worried a little because it was Rey’s first time to make it to state for track.
“The atmosphere from the state track meet is so much different from the cross-country meet. There’s the people yelling and you’re literally right next to them on the track,” he said. But down on the track last Thursday, Samaniego’s worries dissipated. “Marco’s so competitive that I don’t think it affected him.”
Three days after leaving Presidio, Rey returned, two silver’s hanging around his neck. He was welcomed back home with another police escort, this time with Presidio residents honking and waving from parking lots throughout town, celebrating the hometown hero’s return. As he arrived in the parking lot of Presidio High School, classmates and teachers draped him with Presidio school flags.
“I am very grateful for having made my debut in Austin,” he said. “I worked hard enough to deserve a place on the podium. I feel very happy and proud for my two silver medals, and for having set two new records to my name in Presidio history.”
With the final race of his high school career behind him, Rey is finally trying to break out of the disciplined mindset he has entrenched himself in for years.
“Now that track is over, the next two weeks I want to have fun with my class and enjoy our last moments together, because I never partied before, I never had time to hang out with my friends, so now I want to do what I never did before,” Rey said.
However, his break from conditioning won’t be forever. “After graduation, I will start training to prepare for college,” he said. He’s hoping to put running behind him and, with the strong determination that has defined his athletics career, land a spot playing college soccer.