The best may be yet to come for Arie Macias of Alton High.
Macias, a junior, established himself the past fall as one of the best long-distance competitors in Southwestern Illinois. That’s why he is the AdVantage News’ Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.
And the way he is progressing, there might be more good things on the way. Take it from AHS coach Vernon Curvey. He views Macias as a sound work in solid progress.
“Arie has been improving steadily from the day he started as a sophomore,” Curvey said. Macias concentrated on soccer his freshman season.
Curvey added, “He’s an extremely hard worker, stepping to the line for every interval with the desire to be better.”
It seems that desire to succeed is ingrained with Macias. He comes from a sports family and is always striving for improvement. He snared it this season.
“I ran with more confidence and this year, I got more serious,” Macias said. “During the off-season, I incorporated weight training into what I was doing for the first time. I think that made me a lot stronger.
“I was pleased with my season.”
His additional strength and burgeoning confidence pushed his performances and enhanced his outlook. It showed.
Macias recorded his best time of 15 minutes, 39 seconds at the Peoria Invitational on the Detweiller Course. He earned second-team, all-Southwestern Conference honors and then finished seventh in the Class 3A Edwardsville Regional on the SIUE course.
“I think I got right mentally this season,” Macias said of his boost in confidence. “There were times during my sophomore season that I felt intimidated — like I shouldn’t be there in the top spots. This year, I felt like I belonged there.”
He ran 16:16 at the Normal Sectional to finish 31st and just missed out on qualifying for the state finals. He was also fourth at the Belleville West Invitational, fourth in the Alton Invite, sixth overall in the Madison County Meet and 11th in the SWC competition.
“I really wanted to get to state. That’s one of my goals for next season,” Macias said. “I also want to make first-team, all-conference.”
He added, “I want to be competing as a top runner in every single race next year.”
Curvey said, “Arie made the move to run with the lead pack early in the season at the Belleville Invite and that proved he belonged in that group the rest of the year. Although he didn’t qualify for state, he beat several individuals in the sectional that he hadn’t beaten the entire year from our area.”
For Macias, improvement was the name of the game. He will also compete in track this spring and likely run the 800-meters and 1,600-meters. Yet there’s a strong attachment to cross country.
“I’ve been running since I was in elementary school,” Macias said. “What I enjoy the most about it is the personal achievement. It’s just a great feeling to run and I think it’s the purest sport.
“It’s tough because it’s 90 percent mental. It’s all willpower.”
His mind over matter approach could carry Macias all the way to college competition in two years.
“I’d like to continue running and I’m looking at a few colleges,” said Macias, who’s planning to go into physical therapy.