The CIF State Track and Field Championships at the end of May are usually the conclusion of the spring season for runners after a grueling month that includes league races, CIF Southern Section finals and the Masters Meet.
For Audrey Suarez, it didn’t end until June 16.
The Mayfield Senior School runner placed third in the 1,600-meter race of the state championships. However, her campaign was extended by a few weeks as the sophomore was invited to participate in the prestigious Dream Mile in Boston, a race hosted by Adidas that features 10 of the best high school runners in North America. An athlete from Great Britain was also invited.
Suarez ran the Dream Mile on a road and posted a personal-record time of 4 minutes, 48.9 seconds, placing her third. Heidi Nielson of Texas won the race with a time of 4:46.4.
“It was definitely the highlight of my season,” Suarez said. “My favorite part was meeting all the people. We got to meet some pros and all the girls I raced with were really nice. It’s intimidating racing against girls selected from all over, but I was happy with the way I handled something new.”
It was a year full of highlights for the standout athlete, who took home more medals and plaques than any other runner in the area.
She dominated the cross-country season and was named the Prep League’s most valuable player after winning the individual league title. She went on to place second in the CIF-SS Division 4 race for a second consecutive season and won the CIF State cross-country title, becoming the first Cub to achieve such a feat.
“I think the biggest of my goals was to just keep improving,” Suarez said. “As the season went on, I started to set bigger, loftier goals because my training was getting better. Once I accomplish them, I look back and don’t know how I did it.”
Suarez only got better in the spring season and started it by winning the 1,600-meter race in the prestigious Redondo Nike Track Festival. She captured Prep League crowns in three events — the 800-meter run, the 1,600 and 4×400-meter relay. Suarez followed that with a CIF-SS Division 4 championship in the 800 and Masters Meet title in the 1,600 before placing third in the state competition.
“I’m just most proud of the consistency because even when I wasn’t at my best in a race, I was pretty happy with the result,” she said. “That’s hard to do.”
That consistency in her performance comes from a combination of preparation, talent and competitiveness, according to her Pyramid Athletics club coach Eric Sun.
“One thing for sure is that the values her family has instilled in her has jump-started her success,” said Sun, a former cross-country and track coach at Mayfield Senior. “The Suarez family is so loving and supportive of their kids and has taught them what it takes to be a great kid and how to succeed. She has a great head on her shoulders. She is self-motivated, driven, hard-working, competitive and relentless. Audrey’s a great kid who happens to be talented, and that’s why she’s so successful. This is just her beginning.”
The true beginning to Suarez’s running career was when she was 9. Her physical education teacher at Mayfield Junior School was impressed by her time in the mile and told her mother, Vivian. She had played a lot of sports by then, such as soccer, basketball and softball. She began running track, and by the seventh grade, Suarez dedicated herself to running and practiced three times a week.
“I stuck with softball the longest, and that’s one I definitely miss,” said Suarez, who is currently training six days a week. “Over the years, I know when I was younger, it was so painful and I didn’t know if [running] was worth it. I don’t have those doubts about running anymore because I know it is worth it. The people I meet and the running community make me know it’s worth it. It’s a lot easier when you surround yourself with people who do the same thing.”
Being surrounded by positive people is a big reason Suarez opted to attend Mayfield Senior. She took a tour of the campus and “loved it so much.”
“It just looks like a house because it used to be a mansion,” she said. “I love that it looks like a home. I knew so many people going there, and my club coach and assistant club coach were at Mayfield Senior.”
Suarez made an immediate impact as a freshman, placing second in the CIF-SS Division 4 cross-country race and third in the state. In the spring of 2018, she became the first Mayfield Senior track and field runner to qualify for state.
After a remarkable sophomore campaign, Suarez has already been contacted by collegiate programs.
“I’ve had two or three contact me,” she admitted. “They changed the rules so [coaches] can start talking to us on June 15. I haven’t gotten to know any schools yet. I don’t really have a dream school, but I’m excited to start the process and get to know all the teams.”
Suarez is taking a small break from running but plans to attend a running camp and train in Big Bear.
“I think my mileage is going to increase a little bit, which will contribute to my improvement,” Suarez said. “I want to run in college, and they run a lot more miles. I want to gradually work up to that.”