Whatever the task at hand may be, an older sibling – by nature – never wants to be beaten by their baby brother or sister.
For Pojoaque Valley High School senior Michaela Martinez, it was a tough pill to swallow the first time she was beat in a cross country race by her younger sister, eighth-grader Marisa Martinez, earlier this season at the Moriarty Invitational.
The cross country season for the two sisters is also a family affair, as their parents, Gloria and Randy Martinez are assistant coaches for the team. Like a mother and coach should, Gloria Martinez helped keep things in perspective for her older daughter.
“It was a little hard at first to see the little one (finish in front of Michaela), but they’ve embraced it,” Gloria Martinez said. “We had to talk to Michaela and tell her, ‘Isn’t that who you’d want to replace you? You’re fading out and she’s moving in.’ Then, she understood.”
What both runners understand most is their importance to the Elkettes’ scoring five. Regardless of who crosses the finish line before one another, the two are all but guaranteed to finish second and third for the team behind senior Mia Vigil.
“When me and Marisa are out there, we just tell each other, ‘Let’s go, let’s stay up there with Mia,” Michaela Martinez said. “We try to stay in range with Mia and push each other, as well as bring the girls from behind closer to us.”
The Elkettes’ scoring stayed consistent again this past week, giving Pojoaque its second victory in as many meets. The team won the Laguna Acoma Invitational on Sept. 20, and this time they compiled a winning score of 56 at the Capital City Invitational on Sept. 28 at the Santa Fe Municipal Recreation Complex.
Vigil’s fifth place finish (21 minutes, 37.39 seconds) was followed by Marisa Martinez (8th), Michaela Martinez (9th), Jasmine Valdez (16th) and Ayla Garcia (18th). With three runners finishing inside the top 10, Pojoaque was easily able to secure the win, as Santa Fe High School and Santa Fe Prep were well behind with 84 and 85 points. Clovis High School finished fourth with 89.
The Demonettes’ Maya Holder and Simone Ropp took second and third place, but their third, fourth and fifth runners finished at 24th, 26th and 27th.
“They all ran great and we had a tough week (of practice),” Gloria Martinez said. “We did mile repeats, a lot of speed work and they were burnt down, but they didn’t show it today.”
Through the halfway point of the season, Marisa Martinez said there is no rivalry brewing between her and her older sister. She’s just happy to be along for Michaela’s last ride.
“It’s been a good experience, she always pushes me and we just work together,” Marisa Martinez said. “I just want to make it together with her for her last year.”
As for what happens next, it looks as though Pojoaque will be a team to be reckoned with in Class 4A – regardless of how its two and three spots in the Martinez sisters finish.
“She beat me before and she beat me here, but we’re both on the same team,” Michaela Martinez said. "So, it really doesn’t matter. She could have a good race and I could have a bad race, or I will come out and beat her and she comes in right behind me. Whichever is best for the team.”
Elks take second place
While the Elkettes enjoyed their victory, the Elks also laid down an impressive performance to finish in second place.
Their score of 76 was 26 points behind the victorious Wildcats from Clovis, who were anchored by Jerrick Maldonado’s first place finish in a blistering time of 16:10.48. His teammate, T.J. Gregs, followed in second at 16:37.49.
Santiago Romero led the Elks with a fifth-place mark at 17:39.69, and Dylan Romero (13th), Joseph Gutierrez (14th), Lucas Tiede (20th) and Isaiah Roybal (24th) rounded out the scoring five.
Juan Branch finished 11th for the Española Valley High School boys, and Lady Sundevil Emily Chavez placed 19th.
Valencia High School’s Raquel Chavez won the girls race with a time of 19:36.44.