GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL TRACK AND FIELD: Permian's Rivera-Norman looking to make the most at state

May 3—This may be Alivia Rivera-Norman's first time competing at the state meet but she doesn't plan on letting that or a small injury get in her way this weekend.

The Permian junior will be running in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

She qualified for state after winning both of her events at the Class 6A Region I track and field meet, finishing with a time of 14.23 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles and 43.19 in the 300-meter hurdles, back on April 22 in Arlington.

"I'm more than excited," Rivera-Norman said. "I've been doing this for a few years and to see everything come together and all the hard work that I've put in, it feels super exciting."

She is the only Permian track and field athlete to qualify for state this year.

Going into regionals, Rivera-Norman was ranked No. 1 in both of her races but she didn't let that distract her from focusing on the prize.

"I knew I was going in as the number one runner in the region but anything can happen," Rivera-Norman said. "When I crossed the line and realized that I qualified, it was overwhelming. it was like I felt the pressure taken off my shoulders. It was an eye-opening moment for me."

However, a minor injury in her left Achilles from the prelims at regionals has forced her to wear a boot.

"It wasn't getting any better after that so I went to the doctor and they did an x-ray," Rivera-Norman said. "There's no tear or anything, it's just inflammation causing a lot of pain. The boot is for when I walk around all day and for extra support for my foot so that I'm not putting too much pressure on it ... I'll still be able to run as long as I take my ibuprofen."

It has forced her to modify her training this past week.

"We had so many plans for practice and as soon as I went to the doctor, I had to scratch them all," Rivera-Norman said. "I've been doing stuff on the bike and doing what I can but resting is really important now."

Despite the small setback, she's hopeful of doing well at state.

For her, getting to state lifted so much weight off her shoulders.

"if you've made it to state, then you deserve to be there," Rivera-Norman said. "You made it through your rounds to get there and I feel like I deserve to be there because of the work I've put in."

Her achilles wasn't the only thing that bothered her at regionals.

Inclement weather from that weekend forced the final day of the meet to be postponed until Monday, leaving Rivera-Norman and the rest of the athletes to wait two extra days.

"The anticipation was killing me," she said. "I was just ready to get on the track and run my final race but I couldn't because the rain was so bad. But when I finally got to run, it was good."

She was also able to find ways to calm down and stay loose during the delay.

"I had to keep telling myself to remember what the goal was and that the goal was to still get out of regionals and qualify for the next round," Rivera-Norman said. "I like listening to music so that also helped me calm down."

Rivera-Norman comes from a family of successful runners.

Her father, Bronze Rivera, is a Permian graduate from 2000 who also ran as a decathlete at Texas Tech University.

"I know a lot of people assume because my dad ran, my sister ran, my grandpa ran, they expect me to be at their level to," Rivera-Norman said. "To be able to get to state and being able to carry on that name, it's really exciting and I'm honored to do that."

A special send-off was held for her in the parking lot at Permian High School Friday morning before leaving for Austin.

"it means a lot because if I didn't have the support that Permian or my friends or my family have given me, if I didn't have that support system, I don't think I'd be in the same position that I am today," Rivera-Norman said. "I rely on myself and encouraging words from other people who help me believe in myself."

She's earned the respect of her coaches including Permian girls track coach Gayla McMurrian.

"As a runner, she's a natural but she also has work ethic that's second to none," McMurrian said. "You don't have to tell her to eat right or get some rest or finish each race, she's just anything that a coach would like."