Centennial’s Antonio Camacho: The Fastest Sophomore in the Country

Jeramy Stavlas

The Centennial boys’ cross country and track teams saw great success last year, finishing second in the 3A Cross Country State Championship. With a great history and even better coaching staff, it was clear that the team would be a threat to opposing schools, but what was not expected was the rise of freshman Antonio Camacho. 

Now a sophomore, Camacho’s track 5k time of 14:51 ranks third in the nation for this school year amongst all grades, and holds the second fastest high school track 5k time in Maryland over the past decade.

“At a younger age, I was always good at running,” Camacho said. Growing up playing soccer, he thought he would continue on with the sport through high school. After word of Camacho’s speed had spread to the coaches, he was persuaded to join the cross country team instead, and found himself immediately in love with the sport. “I knew I’d be decent… but I didn’t know I’d be as good as I am now.”

With coaches Robert Slopek and Kevin McCoy noticing the steady improvement in Camacho’s times throughout his freshman cross country season, they were able to form the perfect training plan to get Camacho to where he is today. Camacho claimed, “I would be nowhere near as good without them. A lot of my success is from them.”

Being one of two freshmen to race in the mile at last year’s Maryland 3A Indoor Track State Championships, Camacho finished second overall, only 0.14 seconds behind first, with a time of 4:22.76. Camacho did not believe that being younger than most of his competition was an excuse to lose. “When I look at it, I don’t really see ‘oh they’re a senior, it’s okay that I lost,’” Camacho explained. “‘We’re the same. I’m trying to win, he’s trying to win too.’”

Shortly after, the outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 outdoor track season, not giving Camacho a chance to redeem himself. “When [the team] heard about COVID and everything got cancelled, we kept training and we kept working hard,” he stated. Camacho has tried not to let the disappointment of missing part of his high school running career take a toll on his training and performance, but instead has made sure he is prepared for the upcoming seasons. “I knew we weren’t really going to race, but I’m still young and every single time I go for a run I’m still improving,” remarked Camacho.

As a sophomore, Camacho competes in races for the Ellicott City Track Club. Although not running under the Centennial name itself, Camacho has continued to impress, setting personal records and proving his hard work has paid off. 

According to many professionals, running is said to be 90% mental and 10% physical. Competing in a race can be exhausting, and a strong and positive mindset is key to being a successful runner. “It hurts so bad I want to stop,” Camacho claimed. “But I think about how much training I’ve done, how hard I’ve worked, and how I want to win.”

He hopes to carry this mentality throughout the rest of his high school career and beyond, looking to continue on with his running journey through college. With nine more sports seasons to go before his graduation, this is only the beginning for Camacho.


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