Martinez uses kick to win district title
From the opening gun, Fruita Monument’s Woody Seagren and Palisade’s Kevin Martinez ran step for step.
At Thursday’s District 51 championships cross country race, Seagren and Martinez weaved their way around the course at Canyon View Park, with Seagren leading most of the way.
As the two runners made the final turn toward the finish line, the jog turned into a gallop, which turned into a sprint.
Martinez’s sprint was a little stronger, winning the race in 16 minutes, 36 seconds to Seagren’s 16:41.
“I heard him coming up right next to me and I figured I had a stronger kick,” Martinez said. “I just pushed hard.”
The extra effort gave Martinez his first win of the cross country season. It also makes up for a slip at the Anna Banana Invitational, where Martinez was leading at the midway mark but was passed by Seagren down the stretch and finished third.
“It’s big because (Seagren) is one of the only runners that beats me all the time,” Martinez said. “It was tough keeping up with him, but I’m glad I did.”
The win is a good way for Martinez to head into next week’s regional meet in Aspen. Martinez’s running career at Palisade has been marred by his struggle to stay eligible, but he’s turned it around his senior year in the classroom and has run in every race.
“He’s putting it together,” Palisade coach Josh Duval said. “This is his first full season and he’s learning to run smart and run the right race.”
Martinez hopes to finish in the top two at regionals.
Fruita Monument won the boys team title, finishing with 21 points as seven Wildcats runners finished in the top 10. James Mauch finished third in 17:06, John Zamora fourth in 17:10 and Keenan Widhammer came in fifth in 17:11.
Grand Junction’s Kelsey Slauson cruised in the girls race. Slauson finished first in 20:15, nearly 40 seconds ahead of teammate Mary Steel. Slauson never trailed in the race, but the Tigers’ runner wasn’t concentrating on how large her lead was.
“I was pretty relaxed,” Slauson said. “Sometimes you might think there is someone behind you, but you don’t want to look because you might fall.”
Slauson said she had been sick earlier this week, and with the regional race next week in Littleton, Slauson said she’s happy to be on the right track.
“I’m ready for regionals,” Slauson said. “I’m glad I got being sick over with; that way I will be nice and healthy for regionals.”
Palisade’s Avelicia Guzman finished third in 21:45 and Fruita Monument’s Jen Campbell was fourth in 21:54.
Fruita Monument won the girls team title with 34 points.