Luis Martinez wins Nike Cross Southwest Regional Championship
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Maybe it was the inspiration of the incredible runner's environment or the presence of American record holder Bernard Lagat. Maybe it was the remembrance of the strong start then the fading 55th place finish the year prior. Maybe it was the confidence and experience that comes from being a two-time Class 5A State Champion.No matter the reason, the result was another milestone in a New Mexico runner's career.  

Luis Martinez, of Cleveland high, won the coveted Nike Cross Southwest Regional, November 19th, with a 5k time of 15:08. Jackson Thomas (Del Norte) finished 8th overall in 15:28. Both earned trips to Nike Cross National Championships and will represent the Southwest in Portland, Oregon on December 3rd. Antonio Varela (Pecos) finished 11th overall and is the first individual alternate.

Taking place at the Toka Sticks Golf Course in Gilbert Arizona, The Nike Cross Southwest race is one of the most competitive regions in the country. The Southwest Regional Championship, which includes the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Arizona, serves as a qualifier into the seventh annual Nike Cross Nationals. 

"At home there might be four or five fast runners in a race.  Here they are all fast. I went out fast last year and faded.  This year I went out fast and stayed fast." said Martinez.  And if you look at the race splits, racing fast is just what Martinez did. At marker one, Luis had covered the first mile in 4:50.24. Ten seconds behind second position Bernie Montoya of Arizona. Thirty one seconds behind Griffin Hay of Fort Collins and around 17 seconds faster than his own first mile at the NM State XC Championships.

By mile two, succumbing to the blistering pace, Griffin Hay had faded with Preston Johnson of Utah taking the second position. Bernie Montoya had moved into first position with Luis Martinez keeping his holding as third man with about a minute separating first from third. Still, Luis was running fast.  Still at a pace twenty one seconds faster than at the NM Championships.

In the last mile it was Bernie Montoya and Luis Martinez battling to see who would break first. It was Martinez's strength that broke Montoya and Luis crossed the finish line first, in of one of the toughest regions in the nation, with a four-second margin of victory over Colorado runner Danny Carney. A broken Montoya faded to tenth. 

When later asked about the race, Luis's high school coach Kenny Henry had this to say about the win; "Luis ran a extremely smart, excellent race and I feel like he is very deserving of this accomplishment."

The New Mexico Track and Cross County Association would like to praise and thank all those that ran and represented their home state. We are extremely proud of all of you and thank you for carrying the banner of excellence in New Mexico Cross Country.