Making it to state as a freshman isn’t unheard of, but it is uncommon.
Only 12 percent of the 2A boys runners were freshmen last year at the state meet in Round Rock.
This year, Louise Hornets’ freshman Antonio Martinez will be in that unique group after finishing 12th at regionals. With Martinez going to state, it’s the second year in a row that Louise has sent a runner to Round Rock.
Martinez as a middle schooler in Louise did not run on the cross country team but instead took part in the 800-meter run in track. As an eighth-grader, he finished first in all six meets that he competed in.
While cross country wasn’t something he thought he’d do in high school, Coach Salvador Hernandez assured him that running with the team would be something that helped him in track.
“I’m building a passion for cross country, but right now I’m really focused on track,” Martinez said. “I’m doing cross country to help me. This is something on the side so I don’t just do nothing the whole year. I’m doing this so I can get better.”
“I knew he was going to be good because he has what it takes,” Hernandez said. “He has the work ethic and he competes, he wants to take on the challenge.”
With a finish of 17:43 at regionals, that same time at state would put him in the top 35 last year, something only three freshmen did. Martinez’s goal is to knock another 15-20 seconds off his regional’s finish, with the hope of breaking 17:20.
While he didn’t set out to be a cross country runner, Martinez has lofty plans for the rest of his high school running career, including being one of the best runners in not only the state but in the whole country.
“Next year (I want to) hit the sub 16:30’s. Then I want to break the 15 (minute mark) and by my senior year I want to get into the 14’s, be an elite runner across the whole nation,” Martinez said. “I like planning it out.”
“A lot of people take it a day at a time. He looks at the long-term and that’s the way he is,” Hernandez said. “He’s not here for a short period, he’s looking at the long run. It’s hard to find somebody like him. When we started the program, we had Pete (Moreno). Then we had Javi (Javier Olvera). Now we have him.”
Martinez will be competing against 148 fellow runners Monday in Round Rock. If he can drop the time that he’s hoping for the Louise freshman will find himself finishing ahead of a lot of other cross country athletes.