Today, we salute Jacob Martinez of Palmerton Area.
Martinez was a multi-time state qualifier for the Bombers. On the track, he ran PRs of 1:56.34 in the 800 meters and 4:23.43 in the 1,600 meters. That 1,600 PR came in the state final, where Martinez took fifth in Class AA. He was also the District 11 champion this past spring in the event.
In XC, Martinez was a three-time state qualifier. He ran to his best finish -- 42nd -- at states as a senior in Class AA. He was the Class A District 11 champion as a junior. He ran his 5K best of 16:46.30 as a senior, where he placed second at the District 11 Championships.
Martinez, who is headed to Lehigh University in the fall, reflected on his prep career for PennTrackXC
What was your most memorable race/competition?
By far, it was my junior year Colonial League Championship 800m. My school record at the time was 2:00.00 and during the regular season I went sub 2:01 five times with my closest being 2:00.01. I went out and took it wire to wire to win and finally went sub 2 with a 1:59.76. It was such a release of emotions to finally go under 2 after just barely missing it so many times, to get the school record, and to win the race.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
States my senior year in the 1600m. The field was so much deeper than the previous year so it forced me to run much faster on both days. They pushed me to an improvement in state medal placement and a school record so I loved the great field.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
My biggest accomplishment would be placing 5th in the PIAA Championships 1600m running 4:23.43 for my school record. Since 7th grade, breaking that record was my primary goal and to finally get it in my final race of my high school career was incredible. The record stood for 20 years and we haven't had a distance state medalist since then either so to be able to do both was incredible.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I wish I could have stayed a little healthier in cross country to give me a shot at medaling at states there. That was my one goal that I missed.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult part of my high school experience was for 95% of the time I had to train alone. I was on a mileage plan with 70 miles a week on a small distance team so most of my running and workouts I did alone. Staying focused and motivated during the whole season while just having my thoughts to myself for that long of a time everyday was rough. I felt that when I was finally able to breakthrough, it made me a stronger runner and a better person from all of those experiences.
What will you miss the most?
It's a combination of two things that I will miss the first. First, I will miss competing on our track team with my twin sister. Having her share in something we both love is so much fun and we're best friends so being apart will be tough. Secondly, I will miss our junior high XC and track teams. They are the coolest group of kids that are my biggest fans. I wanted to do well and set a good example for them so they can realize that they can accomplish great things at our small school as well.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
My best advice is to make sure that you're doing your sport because you want to. If you feel like you're being forced out the door by anybody, it's not the right discipline for you. If you truly want to get good at something, making the sacrifices will be easy to do on your own and you won't need anybody on your back telling you that you have to. If you get to that point where you're entirely self motivated and truly love your sport, success will follow.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My coach is like a father figure to me now. He's taught me how to balance putting my goals and priorities first while still caring for all of those around me as well. Coach Fran has also taught me to realize that I'm a, "small fish in a big pond," which has caused me to always look to push myself with bigger and better competition. The combination of both of those has me leaving high school content as a person and an athlete.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be running at the Division 1 level in the Patriot League by being on the cross country and track teams at Lehigh University. I'll be studying behavioral neuroscience in hopes of being a sports psychologist.
Definitely a big shoutout to my high school and junior high track and cross country teams. They've been with me through it all and I can't wait to see what they do in the future. Also, my colonial league distance runners, Thomas Matsumura, Ethan Bernstein, John Koons, Morgan O'Brien, Bubba Marino, Shane Artis, Preston Kemery, and Maddie Consuelos. They were the greatest competitors while still being some of the best people I've ever met off the track. Finally, all of my family and coaches got me to where I am today.