A lot has happened in Jenny Celis' life since she left Hotchkiss to run track at Oklahoma State University.
For starters, she's no longer a Celis. Last summer, she married fellow Oklahoma State runner Luis Martinez and became Jenny Martinez. Their one-year anniversary is less than a month away.
She's also earned some honors, picked up some injuries, found her professional direction and stayed up to date on another now-former Hotchkiss runner, who broke her Class 2A record last month.
Martinez was a star at Hotchkiss, setting state records in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter runs. She won nine individual state titles with the Bulldogs.
"I remember running for (Hotchkiss) Coach (Kelly) Cowan," Martinez said. "I remember being nervous before those races and crossing the line at those races. It does feel like it was a while ago. I'm a different person now."
Her college running career got off to a good start when she won an indoor Big 12 title with her teammates in the distance medley relay and then was a second-team All-American in the indoor mile.
Although her freshman season was a roaring success, it was also a time when the issues that would hamper her career started to show themselves.
Injuries became common for her because of a condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. The disease affects the shape of her feet in a way in which they take more impact on landings than usual, leaving her more susceptible to leg injuries. While at Oklahoma State, Martinez has had a navicular stress reaction, two stress reactions in her fibulas and various tendon problems.
She also suffered from a stress reaction in her sacrum last fall during her senior season. She was initially worried the injury would cost her a chance at running in the track and field national championships, but she bounced back in a big way, finishing seventh in the 1,500 to earn first-team All-America honors.
In addition to the on-track success, her senior season was a triumph because it wasn't defined by the stress she lived with in her first few years in Stillwater.
"When I look back on my career, for most of it, I remember being really stressed because my freshman year, I did surprisingly well," Martinez said. "Then I was obsessed with running and over-trained and under-fueled and got injured, then I was stressed about meeting my own expectations of myself after my freshman year."
Things changed when she started dating her soon-to-be husband.
"He had similar issues with stress, and once we started dating and he started realizing that running isn't the most important thing in the world, he started running well," Martinez said. "He inspired me. So that's when I switched from the mindset of being stressed about running. My last year was when I could run stress-free.
"It's a privilege to be able to run."
Cowboys head coach Dave Smith has fond memories of Martinez's four years.
"She was a major contributor right from day one, so that was impressive," Smith said. "But I think what's been more important is her attitude, the kind of person she is and the kind of teammate she is. When she went through her own struggles, she was still always there, equally excited for her teammates' success when she couldn't do it for whatever reason.
"She's always made our team a better team and a place people want to come because she's here."
Martinez and several other Oklahoma State runners who are out of eligibility are competing in a USA Track and Field event in Los Angeles in a bid to qualify for this summer's USA Championships.
"My plan was to be done with racing, just because I don't have intentions of going professional or trying to get a contract or something like that, but nationals went really well" Martinez said. "I'm really, really grateful for how it ended, but I feel like I ran a safe race in the final. I didn't want to take any risks and risk losing a first-team All-American spot. I just ran safe and felt like, 'Maybe it wasn't my best, maybe I could've made this decision, maybe I should've done that.'
"Dave Smith texted me a week later about it and I said, 'Actually, I think I do want to race where I don't have to worry about consequences like if I go out too hard.' There's nothing lost. I want to see if I can run faster."
Martinez will graduate next May with two degrees: one in business administration and the other in early childhood education. She'll do some student teaching work in the fall before wrapping up college with nine hours of business classes next spring.
Although Martinez is at the end of her college sports journey, another Hotchkiss track star is about to begin hers.
Kaiya Firor, like Martinez before her, established herself as a force in 2A, winning state title after state title and breaking records along the way. She finished with eight state titles during her career.
Among those state records that Firor now holds is Martinez's old mark in the 400.
Firor graduated from Hotchkiss in May and will continue her track and field career at Western Colorado University. Martinez plans to keep track of Firor's results like she has the past few years.
"I'm really happy for her," Martinez said." I've talked to her a few times. She seems like a really sweet, respectful girl. She also seemed very humble. Those are characteristics I admire.
"For someone like her to break my record, I'm really happy for her. I'm excited to see what she does at Western."