Last season, Melia Middleton didn’t establish a personal-record (PR) in her best event until the Central Coast Section Semifinals.
The Christopher High senior is intent on setting a new best early in the final season of her prep career. Having signed with Division I program University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), Middleton is more motivated than ever to produce fast times and place first in a CCS Championship race.
She’s come close in her signature event, the 300 meter hurdles, placing second as a sophomore and third last year. Middleton enters this season with the fastest returning time in the 300 with a PR of 45.07 seconds.
She also has a PR of 58.93 in the 400 meter run and a 1:06.21 in the 400 hurdles, which already puts her just shy of Nevada’s top-10 all-time list in these events. A couple of days before her season-opening meet in the K-Bell Classic on March 4, Middleton was clearly excited for the season and plans on nailing some early PRs to qualify for the prestigious Arcadia and Stanford Invite-only meets.
“My big goal is to hit those times early so I don’t have to struggle at the end of the season to reach those marks,” she said. “I definitely had that mindset last year, but I struggled through injuries and little issues so I wasn’t able to hit a perfect time. I’m going to be working even harder than last season and I’ve been training a little longer in the preseason, so I’m definitely more in shape at this point than I normally would be.”
The Nevada-Reno coaching staff reached out to Middleton last summer which led to her taking an official visit to the campus in September. She was offered the scholarship a couple of weeks later and signed shortly before the Christmas break.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “My family is so proud of me because it’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. Reaching the D-I level and competing in college has always been my dream so it felt good to finally achieve that.”
College track and field has two distinct seasons: the indoor season in the fall and the outdoor season in the spring. There are several more events in college compared to high school and different distances, and Middleton can’t wait to compete at the next level.
“I’m excited to see what’s different in college,” she said. “I’ve never competed in an indoor track meet before so it’ll be super exciting to do that. That’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”
Before embarking on her college career, Middleton is going to enjoy her final season at Christopher. In addition to her 300 hurdles exploits, Middleton is poised for a top-five finish in the 400 and is part of the 4×400 relay team that finished in sixth place in last year’s CCS Finals.
The entire quartet returns with Middleton, Gabriela Baxter, Sarah Arcelo and Caitlynn Holt, though another runner could be in the mix at different points in the season. They finished the CCS Finals race in 4:07.67, smashing their PR by seven seconds, a huge number in that event.
“I personally love the 4×400,” Middleton said. “It’s that event at the end of the day where everyone’s watching and is so hyped up, and I feel we have a lot more in us.”
Middleton has a goal to go in the low 44-second range in the 300 hurdles and 57 seconds for the 400. She credits Cougars coach Jeff Myers and hurdles coach and former CHS standout Vanessa Koontz in particular for helping her with her form in the hurdles, which is a very technical event.
“I’m excited Vanessa is coaching again this year because she knows what it takes to run the race,” Middleton said. “I think once I started working with her more, that’s when I started understanding and getting my steps right and getting more confident.”