Estancia’s Jaimey Fastnacht and East Mountain’s Eero Ward were among the top finishers at last Saturday’s annual Nick Martin Memorial Invitational cross country meet in Sandia Park.

More than 200 distance runners from 15 high schools and middle schools competed in the annual invitational race named in honor of Nick Martin, an East Mountain student athlete who died in 2010.

In addition to host East Mountain, Estancia and Mountainair high schools, and Roosevelt Middle School participated in the event.

The 5K, or 3.1-mile race, begins and ends on the soccer field at Vista Grande Community Complex. Between the soccer field’s start a finish lines are two laps around a 1.5-mile trail that meanders through the woods next to the high school.

At the end of the trail is a daunting hill that left several participants walking up—particularly on the second lap.

During the girls’ varsity race, a Roswell runner held the lead the first time around the trail, with East Mountain’s Marissa Case and Rubie Trotter not far behind; Fastnacht paced herself at fifth place.

But coming down the stretch, Fastnacht made her move.

As she entered the soccer field—still in fifth place—Fastnacht turned on the jets and dashed past three runners to finish second with a time of 22:40, four seconds behind the winner.

“At the top of the hill I knew I had to start moving,” Fastnacht said. “I was still behind them at the start of the soccer field and then I caught them. All season, my coaches have said, ‘You can do it,’ and I put that thought into my head, and I told myself, ‘You can do it!’”

Case finished third—just a tenth of a second behind Fastnacht—and Trotter took fourth.

Amelia Johnson was East Mountain’s other top-10 placer at eighth.

Ward was neck-and-neck with Roswell’s Gerardo Ruiz for much of the boys’ varsity race. But he was passed on the final leg by Alamo Navajo’s Tyree Monte and settled for a third-place finish.

“I felt like I could’ve done significantly better,” Ward said, whose time was 18:41, just two seconds behind Monte. “I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t have as much kick as usual, but it is what it is—you can’t look a gift race in the mouth.”

Jaydon Krisch was East Mountain’s other top-10 finisher at sixth place.

Wyatt Greene—who played in Mountainair’s football game the night before—was the Mustangs’ only boys varsity participant and finished 20th.

Greene said it was his first meet of the season, adding, “I haven’t even practiced much.”

Estancia’s top finisher was Andres Lovato at 38th.

In the JV race, Ethan Tetrault was East Mountain’s top placer at 11th and Dylan Greene was Mountainair’s top runner at 14th.

In the middle school race, Roosevelt’s Gabe Case placed first with seven teammates finishing in the top 10; on the girls’ side, Roosevelt’s Marianna Sanchez placed first with four teammates in the top 10.

Estancia Middle School’s Alana Sosa took seventh.

East Mountain athletic director and head cross country coach Dave Naylor said the event—despite having fewer schools this year—was a success.

“We lost a few schools but it’s great, it went very well,” Naylor said. “We had a lot of help from volunteers getting it all together, we had Roswell and Goddard—and we’re happy to have them.”

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