Odessa High graduate Nathalia Escontrias has competed in the Dr. Daniel Cepero Memorial Track Meet since she was 9 years old.
She returned to the Ratliff Stadium track again Saturday to compete in the 800-meter race.
When she finished, there was an extra award that she could take with her.
Escontrias was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from meet organizer Stella Neboh and Walgreen’s to help pay for her education.
The 2021 graduate is heading to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and plans to study radiology.
“It means a lot to get this scholarship and it really helps,” Escontrias said. “It really shows just all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Escontrias added that she and her mother had been discussing ways to apply for more scholarships and apply for financial aid.
She added that there is the possibility of being placed on a full scholarship depending on how she does with the team.
Escontrias wasn’t the only scholarship recipient who was recognized Saturday.
Midland Christian graduate Caden Norris, who just completed his first year at Texas A&M, was recognized as the 2020 honoree after the meet had been canceled last year due to COVID-19.
Norris was awarded the Cepero Scholarship, which was presented to him by Susan Cepero. That award is also worth $1,000.
“God’s just opened this opportunity for it to happen so without Him, I couldn’t have done this,” Norris said. “With COVID last year, the opportunity presented itself this year and it’s just an honor and a privilege to receive it.”
Norris was a standout cross country and track runner at Midland Christian and also participated in meets as part of the Tall City Christian Track Club.
He did not run with the Aggies this past year as he was recovering from some health problems early in the year.
As he returns to the track, he’s also had a change of direction in terms of his academic goals. Norris ended up changing his major from landscape architecture to nutrition.
“This scholarship helps out a lot,” Norris said. “And with the health issues, this is something that my parents and I have tried to take care off so this will help tremendously.”
Handing out the scholarships is an annual part of the Cepero Track Meet since it started in 2004.
For Walgreen’s store manager Juan Zamora, being able to give back to the community is something that he takes great pride in.
“I’ve known Stella for more than 15 years and when she started this program, we jumped into the opportunity,” Zamaora said. “It started as a small event and has grown to be a big event.”
Being able to present a scholarship to students from the last two graduating classes was something that Zamora was also appreciative of.
“It’s definitely a special time,” he said. “We’re finally getting together and it’s nice to be able to continue the tradition.”
As for Escontrias, she said that her time competing as part of the West Texas Track Club is something that she’ll always remember and hopes to encourage others to run the same events she competed in.
“The 800 is the hardest event in track,” she said. “I would say just stick with it because you’re going to be able to finish.”
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