Maryvale Prep coach Jason Miller says it usually takes freshman track and field athletes a year to adjust to the varsity.
"They are just getting used to track and getting their feet wet," Miller explained. "We see what they are capable of doing and focus on next year."
But Cameron Hinton and Alex Martinez are different.
They're not adjusting, they're winning and posting top finishes in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland meets.
Now, Hinton (400 meters) and Martinez (long jump) are gearing up for the biggest meet in their brief high school careers — the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., June 19-21.
Hinton and Martinez are two of 14 Maryvale track athletes headed to North Carolina.
It's the largest group Miller has taken to nationals in the past five years.
Hinton and Martinez are the only Lions who have qualified in individual events; Maryvale's other competitors are spread across seven top-caliber relay teams.
"They are two of the most talented girls we have ever had at Maryvale," said Miller, whose team finished a close second to McDonogh in both in the IAAM indoor and outdoor championship meets this year. "I definitely can build a program around these two. They have increased the intensity of the team. We can compete at a high level and are not shooting for second place anymore. We want to win the league."
The New Balance Nationals could help put Hinton and Martinez on the path to competing in track at the college level.
That's a big goal for both athletes.
"It's a pretty good accomplishment," Hinton said of advancing to nationals. "It will be exciting to be down with all the talented juniors and seniors and to be able to compete against them. This is just a step in our careers."
Hinton's track career started seven years ago in the Owings Mills Track Club.
She's competed in national meets before, taking part in AAU Juniors Olympics in Iowa, Michigan, Louisiana and Virginia before joining the Maryvale varsity.
With that type of experience, it should come as no surprise that Hinton won two IAAM championships indoors (500, 300) and one outdoors (400) as a freshman.
The outdoor title was impressive considering Hinton dealt with injuries for a good part of the spring.
"I am just kind of getting back into the swing of things," said Hinton, who sustained hamstring, calf and knee injuries.
Hinton ran the 200 and 400 indoors at the New Balance Nationals in March, and Miller feels that experience will prove invaluable for her in North Carolina.
"Cameron runs in a lot of good meets but she went up to indoor nationals and realized how good the competition is," the coach said. "Cameron could run a sub-55 (in the 400) in North Carolina and that could place her pretty well in the freshman race."
The New Balance Nationals will be Martinez's first national event.
"I think I will be a little bit nervous," she said. "I just really want to get the experience of going to nationals and see what it's like. I am still kind of shell shocked of making it. I only have been jumping this year and last year in middle school."
Miller couldn't be happier with Martinez's development. She placed second in the MIAAs indoor and outdoors with jumps greater than 16 feet.
"She was ranked as the number one freshman in the state," Miller said. "You just don't see freshman come in and jump close to 17 feet like that. She is scary good."
Martinez and Hinton are also a big part of Maryvale's relay teams.
The Lions will have seven of them running in North Carolina.
The 800 sprint medley relay includes Martinez, senior Maya Belin, sophomores Gabby Halaby and Courtney Kenny while Martinez, Halaby, senior Olivia Taupyen and junior Kendall Gray comprise the 1000 Swedish relay team.
Hinton, senior Alana Thomas, sophomore Courtney Kenny and Belin make up the 4X200 group and Hinton, Kenny, Halaby and sophomore Emily Craig team up to form the 1,600 medley.
"I am real excited to see the 1,600 medley," Miller said. "I think that's your rock-star studs with Hinton, Kenny, Halaby and Craig. They could demolish our school record and they can be top-eight."
The distance medley relay includes Craig, senior Amanda Kelly, senior Victoria Sill and sophomore Paige Adams while senior Claire Robinson, Thomas, Gray and sophomore Caroline Sullivan are part of the 800 sprint medley.
The 4x400 relay includes Craig, Gray, Halaby and Kenny.