Most athletes spend their entire lives striving for greatness, but Samarra Monrroy isn’t most athletes. After only a few months of running for the Millikan track and field program, the diminutive freshman finished second in the 400 meter at the CIF State Finals on Saturday.
“I’m pretty surprised because it’s her first year running track,” Millikan coach Jerry Naulls said. “She’s been able to sustain and get faster throughout the year. Sometimes kids want to see immediate success, but in track it usually takes a long time. She knows she has the talent and the speed, and she listens.”
Monrroy had no choice but to listen to Naulls after the CIF State prelims on Friday. She had won her heat, but looked distraught on her walk back to the warmup area.
“I’m pretty tired and not too happy with my performance,” Monrroy said. “I think I ran the first 200 a little bit too fast, so I didn’t have enough energy to bring it home on the backstretch.”
Naulls caught up and walked with Monrroy while she warmed down.
“He told me to keep my head up,” Monrroy said. “I’ve come this far, so I can’t let my emotions get the best of me or it will carry into my race tomorrow. I have to listen to what he says no matter how sick or upset I feel.”
Monrroy learned from her mistakes, started a little slower in the finals on Saturday, and was in the lead coming down the backstretch before Katriina Wright of University City (53.93) beat her to the finish line. Monrroy’s 54.25 is just off her personal best 54.16 she used to win at the Masters meet last week.
“Yesterday I was really nervous,” Monrroy said of her prelims run on Friday. “I didn’t know how to act, my hands were shaking like crazy and that got me out of focus. I let my anxiety get the best of me. Today, I was able to not only focus, but push myself to get second place.”
Monrroy’s older sister, Breanne Monrroy, played soccer and competed in shot put while at Millikan. Monrroy originally considered herself a soccer player who was going to run track to stay in shape, but her own success has changed her plans.
“I was like that ‘happy to be here’ at the beginning of the year, but now that I’m here I see that I have a chance (to win) and I want to make that a reality,” Monrroy said. “I’m very surprised, I never expected to come this far in a sport I wasn’t fully dead-set on but I’m happy I did. I’ve had to quit soccer (this month) and have decided to focus on track. I needed that focus today.”