Ahead of big races, it’s not unusual for Saugus distance runner Mariah Castillo to get a little nervous. Even ahead of smaller races, she gets some butterflies.
One trick she uses to help calm the nerves is thinking back to her childhood running days.
“My friend Sophia Pearson told me when I was little, ‘Take the butterflies out of our stomach,’ so we’d scratch our stomachs to get the butterflies out,” Castillo said. “I keep that in mind. I have the mileage, I have everything I need to do well in a race. I keep that in mind and give it everything I have out there.”
Although she can have a lighthearted pre-race routine, Castillo is all business when it comes to the track. That mentality has helped her earn the title of 2018 All-SCV Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
She broke program records in the 800-meter race in addition to the 1200, 1600 and 3200 throughout the season.
“She’s hit every record for us but otherwise some of toughest distance records for the state are at Saugus and she got all of them,” said Saugus distance coach Rene Paragas. “Her ability from her range was impressive. For her to win so many events, that’s unequal.”
She made it to the CIF state finals for the first time in her prep track and field career and although she didn’t reach the podium in either the 1600 or the 3200, she was able to use the devastation from the state meet on June 2 as a form of motivation for the Brooks PR Invitational in Washington less than a month later.
Castillo went into the event relaxed and pulled off a first-place finish in the 1600 as a result.
“The state meet was all business and pressure and that’s really not what the sport is about,” Paragas said. “A relaxed runner is a fast runner.
“She went up there with ‘I just ran the worst race of my life and I’ve got nothing to lose…’ and she was able to enjoy herself, meet people and go in as an underdog and because of that reverting to having a good time and letting her ability come out she was able to perform.”
Her time of four minutes, 41.40 seconds in the event ranks her first in the country and eighth all-time in the 1600 in California’s history.
The time established a new Foothill League record in the 1600. Castillo also owns the 3200 league record at 10:09.12.
Castillo had a successful cross country season – which included a third-place finish in the Nike Cross Nationals – but it’s track and field that owns the TCU commit’s heart.
“I love them both but I feel like I’m more of a track person,” she said. “I like the fast stuff, the shorter events. I think they’re just more exciting. I feel like doing a three-mile run up hills, you can get really tired. But I really see benefits to both.”
Since graduation and the end of her Saugus prep running career, Castillo has referred to herself as a “former Centurion.” But in reality, she’ll always be a Centurion runner. She’s learned too much from the experience to not be.
“I feel like (I improved on) just overall the racing aspect of it because you get to learn more about yourself and your limits,” Castillo said, “so just going into every race and either succeeding or failing and just learning from it and growing.”
Jaliyah Berkley, senior, Valencia
This Viking took home the Foothill League title in both the 100 (12.12) and the 200 (24.82). She reached the CIF-Southern Section finals in the 100, but was unable to reach the podium with a time of 12.59.
Abbey Bryant, senior, Saugus
A hurdler since she was a kid, Bryant took the league title in the 100 (14.55) and 300 hurdles (44.96), nearly breaking a league record in the former. At the CIF-Southern Section finals, she came in second in the Division 2 girls 100 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles.
Shyann Franklin, junior, Golden Valley
In her first trip to the CIF state finals, Franklin walked away with a second-place finish in shot put. Prior to that at the state prelims, she threw 46-05 for a new Foothill League record in the event. At the Masters meet, Franklin came in fifth in discus and second in shot put and at CIF-SS finals, she was third in discus and fifth in shot put.
Yleana Lopez, freshman, Golden Valley
Lopez burst onto the scene as a freshman, winning the girls 400 with a time of 57.46. Later, at the CIF-SS Division 2 finals, she ran 25.50 for eighth place in the girls 200.
Emma Rudolph, junior, Golden Valley
Although she lost the league title to West Ranch’s Amber Racina, she was able to tie her Foothill League counterpart at the CIF-SS finals at 11-06. Rudolph went on to clear 11-05 at the Masters Meet.
Natalie Ramirez, junior, West Ranch
Ramirez took the CIF-SS title in both the shot put and discus, then proceeded to take third in state in shot put and seventh in discus. She was able to claim first place and set a new Foothill League record in discus with a throw of 155-10 at the Masters Meet.
Shelbi Schauble, junior, West Ranch
After trying out a plethora of events in an attempt to find her niche, Schauble found her calling in the triple jump. With a leap of 38 feet, 8.25 inches, Schauble was able to qualify for the CIF state meet. Additionally, she was a key runner on West Ranch’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
Gabby Sanchez, senior, Canyon
Sanchez threw 146-09 for second place and a new Canyon record in discus at the CIF-SS finals. At the Masters Meet, she came in fourth place in discus to earn her a second consecutive trip to the CIF state meet.