There’s plenty of time to think at a track meet, if one is so inclined. Time to do whatever. While waiting for the next event, many athletes sleep, horse around gently, stare into nothingness, or prepare mentally for the task to come. Others note the appearance of former teammates, now graduated, at the track to wish them well.

The first day of the District 31-5A track meet, like most of the sport’s events this spring, was ruled by finicky weather. The morning was damp and cool, promising rain to come but not delivering, thankfully. And all of a sudden it was Valley hot as the field event finals got rolling at 5 p.m. Thursday at Cats Stadium. So hot that the sun burned one in seconds, leading to the usual array of panting jumpers and vaulters hiding under variously hued umbrellas.

The heat, and actually very little, ever seems to bother Marco Adriana. As one of the observers at the meet remarked, “Here comes Marco, he’s so cool.”

And that he is, a handsome lad who is equally humble. Gunning for a trip to regionals in five events, North’s long-time star broke not a sweat in pacing the field for a first-place finish in the long jump finals, launching himself literally, and then figuratively, toward a bang-up finish to a superb Cougar career.

In the fall, the Valley’s loss will be a gain for The University of Texas-Arlington, as the lithe sprinter will attend the university on a full scholarship. The Mavericks currently boast the top sprint relay team in the country, a sub-40-second group of greyhounds. Adriana was specially recruited to join this august body of speedsters, after having dominated the area in the 100, 200, and sprint relay for four years.

“I went to regionals as a freshman with the sprint relay,” he noted after some prodding to recount his history. Adriana is the kind of guy who will not talk about himself unless cornered, an endearing personality trait of his among myriad others.

“I’m looking forward to going up there,” he continued. “I have a sister who goes there, she’s a junior.”

His transition from high school to college will be aided by the family touch, it seems, but for now, there was a non-family character scouting him from the wings.

It was Victor Garcia, the P-SJ-A Memorial flier who was to be Adriana’s main competition in the 200 meters Saturday.

Garcia, who is one of the Valley’s fleetest runners, sat adjacent to the long-jump pit, watching as Adriana flew nearly 22 feet with the same easy yet breathtaking grace he used to gain over 1,600 yards in football as a senior.

Garcia noted what Adriana later verified. He, Garcia, is a fast starter, while the North senior is known for the end-of-race kick.

“That’s why I am not running the 100 in district,” said Adriana, smiling the soft, thick-lipped grin he’s known for. “I have the ability to catch people but my start is not the best, so it’s best for me to run the 200. That’s my top event.”

Before the meet was done, he would compete in the long and triple jumps, plus the 200, sprint and another relay. It will be awhile before the school sees such a fantastic talent and competitor, making the day’s work to come a must-see for city track mavens.

DAY TWO

Adriana showed his usually incredible late burst in the 400-meter relay, handing his team the win with a jet of speed in the last 15 yards, burning the P-SJ-A anchor man to come from a big hole at the wire.

He was not as successful against Garcia in the 200, coming in second to the Wolverine sprinter, but will still advance to regionals in the event.

As for the other battles, EHS’s Veronica Tabb was second in the 100 and 200, behind Verita Grannum of Harlingen South. Lady Bobcat teammate Robin Galloso got out to a big lead in the 800 and held off a homestretch challenge from Pharr North’s Jackie Arnold, with EHS soph Beckah Rodriguez a strong third. Galloso appeared to be flagging in the last 20 yards but summoned one last push to nick Arnold, who collapsed in exhaustion at the tape.

North’s Luis Serrano won the 1,600 and 3,200 to advance on to San Antonio in two weeks, while the Cougar team finished a close second, eight points behind Harlingen.

The EHS girls pulled off a mild upset with their second-place showing, a point ahead of a Lady Cougar group that had been gunning for the team title.