Feeling better than ever, Martinez leads Viera boys to district title

Hawks top West Shore as eight runners turn in new PRs


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Viera High's Andy Martinez easily won the Class 3A, District 13 cross country title Saturday. Martinez, coming back from an injury, said he wanted to "play it safe" Saturday with the regional and state meets coming up. Eight of 10 Viera runners ran their best times as the Hawks also won the team title.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

If it looked like Viera senior Andy Martinez still had plenty of energy after being the first to cross the finish line in Saturday’s Class 3A, District 13 cross country championship race, well, that’s because he did.

“I knew I was going to win,” Martinez said. “I was like, ‘I’m fine. I don’t need to push it. I’m just going to play it safe.’

“I could have come out way faster, but I didn’t want to.”

Despite admittedly holding back a little, Martinez finished in 16:33, nearly beating his personal record of 16:29 as the Hawks had a big day on their home course and won the district title.

Eight of Viera’s 10 runners turned in new PR times.

Junior Coby Karl was fourth in 17:12, while senior Shawn Coleman III was sixth in 17:32. Junior Tyler Mielke was eighth in 17:37 and right behind him was junior Navarre Solomon (17:38), giving the Hawks five runners who finished in the top 10.

Junior Bryan Baker came in 11th (17:42) and senior Ethan Dabbs was 12th (17:44) to make it seven runners in the top dozen.

Orlando Lopez, also a junior, finished 22nd (18:28), junior Michael Shenbaum was 23rd (18:28) and sophomore Louis Schiffer was 27th in 18:44.

“We had a good day,” Viera coach Scott Baker said. “Mission accomplished. Eight of our 10 guys that ran set a PR today. The weather was great. The course was great. The competition was really good with West Shore.”

In fact, West Shore came into Saturday ranked second in the region while Viera was ranked third. At next week’s Class 3A, Region 4 race at South Fork High School, they’ll both be chasing the team ranked No. 1 in the region and in the state: Belen Jesuit.

“Our goal is to finish second next week in the boys,” Baker said. “We’ll have to run extremely well to beat West Shore and some teams from Miami as well. West Shore ran great today. If we hadn’t run great, we wouldn’t have beat them.

“We ran the best we had all year. That’s what had to happen today or we wouldn’t have beat them.”

Having a healthy Martinez back certainly helps.

The Hawks’ top runner had been out for a year with plantar fasciitis, but has been working his way back over the past seven weeks. And now that he’s healed, he’s ready to go and hopes to break his PR by at least 30 seconds at the state meet.

“I feel better, actually, than my old self,” he said. “I always had the confidence. It was the fact that I couldn’t push through the pain. Now, I actually get to do what I can.”

Note: Team and individual photos have been posted  on Twitter @CKotala.