Martins Earns All-American, Leads NJ Finishers At NCAA

What a race by Ryan Martins!!!

Martins, a graduate student at Loyola University who starred at Watchung Hills High, ran the greatest race of his life when he finished 29th to earn First-Team All-American honors at Saturday's NCAA Division 1 Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The top 40 finishers earned All-American status. 

Martins, a 2017 graduate of Watchung Hills and a graduate of Nebraska, dropped a huge PR of 29:28.8 over the 10K Greiner Family Cross Country Course. His previous best was the 29:41.3 that he ran to finish second at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 11, which automatically qualified Martins for the NCAA Championships.   

Charles Hicks, fourth last year, ran a course record 28:43.6 to become the first Stanford runner to win the men's title, and Northern Arizona men defeated Oklahoma State on a tie-breaker after both teams finished with 83 points. It's the third straight title for North Arizona and its sixth championships in the past seven years.

A native of Green Brook, Martins made a huge push over the final 2K as he picked off 14 runners with a 5:52 2K split to go from 43rd place to 29th to lock up the All-American spot. 

Martins is the first male runner from Loyola to run at the NCAA Championships since Sam Penzenstadler in 2014, and he's the first XC All-American for Loyola since Jim Westphal in 1991. The 29th place finish by Martins is the second highest in school history behind only the great Tom O'Hara, who won the individual national championship for Loyola in 1964.

Martins, who also placed second at the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships on his road to Stillwater, is a great example of how hard work and perseverance pays off. Martins, who was 13th at the 2016 NJ XC Meet of Champions and ran 16:11 at Holmdel Park, had high school PR's of 4:20.28 for 1,600 and 9:23.00 for 3,200. And now he's one of the best college XC runners in the country. How awesome is that!!!  

Martins was the highest finisher from New Jersey at the NCAA Championships, but there were several other NJ star who made their presence felt.  

Devin Hart (Point Pleasant Boro) was 51st in 29:47 to help Stanford place fourth. Liam Murphy (Allentown High), Jack Jennings (Mendham) and Marco Langon (Bridgewater-Raritan) were the top three finishers for Villanova, which placed 19th. Murphy, the Mid-Atlantic Regional champ, was 92nd in 30:10, Jennings was 99th in 30:11, and Langon placed 121st in 30:24. Langon was the sixth highest freshman finisher.  

Shane Brosnan (Union Catholic) was 156th in 30:39 to help Harvard finish 23rd, and Jack Stanley (Mendham) ran 31:30 to help Princeton finish 30th.     

In the women's 6K race, Wisconsin's Alexa Westley (Warren Hills High) was the top NJ finisher, placing 171st in 21:05 as the Badgers placed 19th. Chloe Gonzalez (North Hunterdon) ran 21:15 for the Georgetown, which finished 10th.    

The women's race was won by Katelyn Tuohy, who ran a course record 19:27.7 to lead North Carolina State to its second straight title. When Tuohy was a junior at North Rockland High in NY, she smashed the course record at Holmdel Park when she ran 16:21 at the Shore Coaches Invitational.