Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South cross country and track runner Christian Nevarez (front) is all smiles after signing his National Letter of Intent to attend Fresno Pacific University next year on May 5.
When Christian Nevarez first ran cross country in junior high school, he felt like a fish out of water.
Today, the senior from Madera South is on his way to Fresno Pacific University with an athletic scholarship.
“The first time I ran was in eighth grade,” Nevarez said. “I was kind of fast, but it felt weird to me. It was tiring and painful at first, but it’s paid off.”
Nevarez placed sixth at last year’s CIF Central Section cross country championships while leading the Stallions to its ninth straight Valley Championship, including the last five in Div. I.
After missing the CIF State cross country championships his junior year, Nevarez placed 55th in his return.
Focusing on the mile and two-mile on the track, Nevarez looks to make a name for himself outside of the city he loves.
“I want to establish who I am and I think Fresno Pacific will help me do that,” he said.
Nevarez grew up in Madera and recalled a hectic childhood that benefited him more than he realized.
“Growing up my parents moved me around a lot,” Nevarez said. “I was moving from school to school and just meeting new people. When I look back and think about it, I’ve met so many different people along the way. I know so many people from both South and Madera High because I was able to meet so many people growing up.”
Nevarez’s parents always had an impact on his life. Whether it was giving him the confidence to succeed out on the track or in the classroom, Nevarez doesn’t forget the life lessons they taught him.
His mother Leticia Nevarez, 44, said her son has a knack of fighting through adversity.
“He’s a really hard worker,” Nevarez said. “One thing I admire most about him is his ability to fight through obstacles. He handles it in a mature way.
“As a runner, he is focused and does what he’s told. Even if he isn’t to sure about it, he’ll still put in the effort.”
Although Nevarez has a lot of work ahead of him, his father Manuel Nevarez, 44, said his son is more than capable.
“He’s the one hardest working kids out there,” Nevarez said. “He’s very consistent as an athlete and always a team player. I couldn’t wish for anything else, he’s honest and loyal. He’s the perfect son.”