Individual victories by two East Mountain High School runners helped the girls and boys cross country teams both place first—for the first time in the school’s history—at last Saturday’s Nick Martin Memorial Invitational.

“We knew we had a pretty good chance to do that,” East Mountain’s head cross country coach Dave Naylor said.

The annual event, now in its 12th year, was re-named in honor of East Mountain runner Nick Martin, who passed away in 2010.

Naylor said a total of 25 high school and middle school teams participated last Saturday, making it one of the largest turnouts in the event’s history.

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East Mountain’s Augie Montoya. Photo by G. Demarest.

Estancia High, Mountainair High, and Roosevelt Middle were among the participating schools.

“It was crowded for sure, there were a lot of fans,” Naylor said. “I don’t remember that many people ever being around the field, which is really cool.”

The 5K, or 3.1-mile, varsity race, begins and ends on the soccer field at Vista Grande Community Complex and includes two laps around a 1.5-mile trail that meanders through the forest between the school and the community center. Near the end of the wooded trail is a grueling hill that had a number of runners stumbling or walking up.

The event includes boys and girls individual varsity races, with separate JV and middle school races.

East Mountain's Aubri Wrye. Photo by G. Demarest.

East Mountain’s Aubri Wrye. Photo by G. Demarest.

East Mountain senior Aubri Wrye won the girls varsity race out of a field of 88 runners with a time of 21:30.

Estancia sophomore Jaimey Fastnacht—a former teammate of Wrye’s—placed second, :19 behind.

Though it was Wrye’s third win this season, it was her first-ever varsity victory in the Nick Martin race, an event she has participated in since eighth grade.

She said she was “cooking” during the first mile and that it’s the first race that she “actually felt solid.”

“I feel like if you can make it through this course then you can almost make it through anything,” Wrye said.

East Mountain had two other girls finish in the top 10, with Sierra Stapleton placing fifth, and Rubie Trotter seventh, to help lift the team to the first-place crown over Hope Christian, which won for the past two years.

A runner from Roswell was close behind Wrye for much of the race before Fastnacht kicked it into gear down the stretch. “You hear everyone yelling and you can’t even feel your legs but you don’t want to let them down. It really motivated me,” Fastnacht said.

On the boys’ side, East Mountain’s Augie Montoya won out of a field of 110 runners with a time of 17:48, with teammates Sean Dwyer and Isiah Padilla taking second and third, respectively.

“The key was using the downhill [portion of the race] to gap them and working the uphill to my advantage,” Montoya said.

It was Montoya’s first-ever varsity win at the Nick Martin event—and he did it on his mother’s birthday. “This race is a very important one to me,” he said.

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Isiah Padilla and Sean Dwyer took third and second place, respectively, at the Nick Martin Invite. Photo by G. Demarest.

Ben Humphries and Joseph Ward placed ninth and 10th, respectively, to help the boys take the crown.

Naylor said the boys and girls sweep was a good precursor for getting ready for the state meet in November.

“I think there’s some work to do if we want to be on the podium but I think we put ourselves in a pretty decent spot to be in the conversation,” Naylor said.

Estancia head coach Adrienne Montoya, who’s been trying to rustle together enough runners—especially on the girls’ side—said it was a really good day for her team. “The kids are right where I want them to be at this point in the season,” Montoya said.

Mountainair—whose girls team is the defending state champion—is also struggling to find enough runners. Mountainair’s varsity girls missed last Saturday’s race due them playing volleyball in Hagerman.

Three members of the boys team—all of whom played in the school’s football game the night before—ran the Nick Martin.

Despite the challenges, Lisa Gikas—who co-coaches the team with Lynnelle Chavez and Vince Zamora—remains optimistic. “We’re missing some kids but these guys [the boys who ran the race] toughed it out,” Gikas said. “We’re hoping we’re going to qualify for state.”

East Mountain’s Marissa Case won the JV girls race.