Gary Martin Commits To University Of Virginia

One of the greatest distance runners in Pennsylvania state history has made his college decision. Gary Martin will be headed to the University of Virginia next year.

A day after starting his senior cross country season in a big way with a win and a 15:13 at the Northampton Invitational, the Archbishop Wood senior confirmed that he will be joining the Cavaliers next fall. Martin chose UVA over the University of North Carolina and Notre Dame.

Martin took his official visit to UVA just last week and reflected for a few days before making his decision. He had already made official visits to UNC and Notre Dame prior to his UVA visit. In the end, the Cavaliers gain one of the country's top recruits and the No. 4 boy in MileSplit50 national rankings.

Martin weighed three factors when deciding on a school: good academics, a strong team fit, and a solid coaching staff. UVA fit the bill on all three.

"On my official visit, I fell in love with the team culture," Martin told PennTrackXC on Sunday night. "They were super welcoming and really great to me. I could see myself spending the next four to five years (there)."

As for the coaching staff, Martin is looking forward to training under the direction of coach Vin Lananna. The former Stanford and Oregon coach joined the Hoos in 2019.

"Coach Lananna, his resume speaks for itself," Martin said. "He's been there before. He's done it. He knows how to build a championship team and he's produced high-caliber athletes. And Coach (Trevor) Dunbar, he's been that high-caliber athlete."

Martin is a runner who is still somewhat new to the sport and running relatively low mileage. Lannana sat down with Martin and explained his training philosphy. The coach gave him examples of athletes who he trained that had similar backgrounds. Martin felt comfortable with what he saw.

"He did a good job of showing me how'd I'd make that transition both training-wise and racing-wise and how I can grow as an athlete," he said.

Martin broke out in a big way during his junior season. In cross country, Martin won the PIAA Class AA state title at Hershey's Parkview course, running 16:12. A few weeks later, Martin clocked a time of 14:52 -- the fourth fastest XC 5K in PA history -- at the RunningLane National Championship in Alabama to finish 24th.

His success continued on the track. During the indoor season, Martin placed second in the two mile (9:02.93) and third in the mile (4:11.72) at adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach.

Outdoors is where he really made a name for himself. At the Henderson Invitational, Martin went 8:49.96 for 3,200 meters, which stands as the third fastest time in PA history. At the John Hay Distance Festival, he broke long-standing state records in the 1,600 meters (4:02.15) and mile (4:03.53). He closed out his junior season with a second place finish in the mile at Brooks PR (4:04.93).

It was a quick rise for Martin, though. The pandemic wiped away what would have been his sophomore outdoor track season and it's been a steady, if not meteoric rise since then.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think (I'd be committing to a top XC/track university) two years ago," he said. "I was just getting into running, trying to figure out if I wanted to run in college maybe. As things progressed, I kind of fell in love with the sport and I realized I could go further with this."