Cibola's Bernie Montoya signed his name on a piece of paper Friday that made it official.
After being pursued by all the big running programs in the nation, Montoya decided to stay in state and signed his letter of intent to run for Arizona State next year.
And with a stroke of a pen, one of the best runners in the country can focus on just running again.
“It's really nice to have everything done. It's a fun process but it's good to have it done,” said Montoya, whose brother, Leonardo, ran for Arizona State.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Cibola long-distance coach Kris Norton said. “I always worry about a lot of those things, it's been a lot of distraction this winter as opposed to last winter when we were underdogs and really hungry. In practice he's still the same old kid who wants to beat the world, and that puts me at ease to see that hunger in his eyes.”
Montoya had plenty of willing suitors, including the top programs in the country like Oklahoma State, Colorado, Oregon and Texas. Instead, he signed with unranked Arizona State.
“This whole recruiting process has been back and forth. One day I would be pro-Colorado and one day I would be pro-Texas, pro-Oregon,” Montoya said. “It's been very back and forth. But I think when I laid it all on the table, what I really wanted and what was right for me was with Arizona State.”
“I don't know if overwhelmed is the right word because he knew it as a very serious decision and he took a very serious approach to it and focused on being really thorough, which brings a lot of stress,” Norton said.
The University of Oregon made the last visit to Montoya — on Super Bowl Sunday — but the three-time Division I cross country state champion decided to stay in state.
“I think we were talking about that it was still up in the air (after the visit), but deep down I was somewhat set (on Arizona State),”