Hempstead runner Renee’ Newton has competed in her fair share of big track and field events.
But even Newton had some butterflies on the team’s bus ride into Manhattan last weekend for the New Balance Games at The Armory. The Tigers junior was about to run her first 600 meters of this season, an event she hadn’t competed in since March of 2019.
“Before the race I was really nervous,” Newton said. “I knew I had worked really hard, but I was still curious what the outcome would be. ... I didn’t know what to expect.”
Newton was hoping to run a 1 minute, 32 seconds. She ran a 1:33.85 and won. Not bad.
Her time was the fastest in the state and third in the country this season, as of Friday, according to milesplit.com.
“I saw 1:34 when I crossed the [finish] line, but then I heard it announced at 1:33,” Newton said.
“I was really proud after months of not running at that distance,” said Newton, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “It was a great result, and I’m really happy that my hard work paid off.”
Newton’s work isn’t just limited to meets.
“She’s a warrior at practice. She works, and once she hits the track, it’s showtime,” Hempstead coach Lenroy Raffington said. “She never backs down from anything. No matter how tough you try to make a practice, she’s always up to the challenge.”
Raffington added that a handful of major Division I schools, including conferences like the SEC and ACC, as well as local Division I and II programs have shown interest in Newton.
“I want to travel and go away to school,” said Newton, who placed eighth (1:34.47) in the 600 at last season’s indoor state championships. “I want to have new experiences and go to a great school, and not just for athletics but for academics, too; somewhere that I’ll be able to flourish even after track.”
Newton, who also has participated in cross country the last three seasons, believes she can run any distance from 300 to 1,600 meters. She ultimately feels she’ll compete in college at either the 800 meters or the 400 hurdles. (Newton placed third in the state in the 400 hurdles last June in 1:01.93.)
“I try to remember my training,” Newton said. “No matter what race I’m in, I’m equipped for it. I try to remain humble, but I’m really proud of my work.”
Newton’s efforts aren’t restricted to athletics, as she has a 96 average. Newton has more competitions this winter, including the Nassau Class A championships on Feb. 4. But there could very well be state and national events in her future.
“I want to take it as far as I can,” Newton said. “Of course I want to run in college, and go pro eventually one day. My goal right now is to stay on track, and take it as far as I can and wherever it’ll get me.”