Things are really looking up for senior Martin Martinez and the Warren boys cross country team.
Martinez had to battle it out for the better part of the 2.9-mile race Saturday morning on the grounds of Warren High School's O'Plaine campus in Gurnee. But in the end he was able to narrowly pull away from the competition to win the race in 14:58.03.
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Martinez' effort led the Blue Devils to the team championship as they were able to topple runner-up Glenbrook South 77-94 for the title of their own 18-team invitational.
Martinez got good support from teammates Adam Shurson (12th), Marcus Shamberg (18th), younger brother Jakob Martinez (24th), and Wil Kellerhals (28th) in capturing the crown.
Racine Case's James Frederickson (second in 14:59.13) and Cary-Grove's Dustin Throw (third in 15:02.71) could not deny Martinez of his first-place finish under some pretty hot running conditions late in the morning.
"Right around 2¼ miles, I slowly broke away and I kind of held on to that lead," said Martinez, who placed second at the Wauconda Invitational last weekend. "Staying healthy is everybody's goal right now and I like hot weather so I would rather have this than 40 degrees outside any day."
Fenton captured third place in the meet with 116 points, followed by Grayslake Central (142 points) in fourth, Crystal Lake South (157) in sixth, and Rolling Meadows (161) in seventh.
Grayslake Central's surge was led by senior Kevin Boyle in seventh, Kevin Orozco in 15th, and sophomore Tommy Zygmunt in 27th.
"The boys did pretty well overall with three medalists (top 30) and it was a really good team effort," said Grayslake Central coach Jim Centella. "We executed our race strategy really well and they wanted to finish really strong in the last mile."
Mundelein got a great performance from sophomore Bryce Richards, who took sixth place in 15:25 in his first varsity race of the young season. The Mustangs also got a 16th-place run from junior Liam Mellon on the relatively flat course.
"We're trying to build him (Richards) up and get him up and get him ready for the varsity races and he did fabulous today," said Mundelein coach John Osmanski. "He went out with the leaders, he was 11th at the 2-mile mark, and he's starting to mature as a runner."
Besides Throw's third-place finish, Cary-Grove got a 22nd-place run from Daniel Sikora.
"They (Martinez and Throw) went out and attacked the race hard from the start and he (Throw) was not able to hold on in the last mile," said Cary-Grove coach Layne Holter. "He (Sikora) had a decent race, but he was probably a little too aggressive too early. But he still finished 22nd, and he ran a great time (15:54)."
Grayslake North's troops were led by Ryan Bruder in eighth place while Angel Carrera was Round Lake's top finisher in ninth place.
Rolling Meadows' pack was paced by Alex Duman in 13th place as he outdistanced Fenton's Danny Wiggin in 17th, as well as Rolling Meadows teammate Josh Smith in 21st.
Fenton's Rodrigo Estrada added a 25th-place run to earn a medal while Rolling Meadows' teammates Aaron Sanchez and Arkadiusz Wrobel placed 32nd and 33rd, respectively.