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Montoya now top-ranked cross country runner in country
With all that's been said about Cibola distance runner Bernie Montoya, it's hard to imagine what else there is to say. But when you're as fast as Montoya is, the next goal is never far away.
Montoya was ranked No. 1 in the nation by MileSplit.com for cross country runners as of Sept. 26. Montoya supplanted national champion Edward Cheserek, which surprised Cibola cross country coach Kris Norton.
“I could see them ranking him third or fourth, to be honest,” Norton said. “The kid that's No. 1 is the national champion. How do you take your national champion and not rank him No. 1? But Cheserek had a sub-par performance and we beat him at nationals; we now have a faster mile time. He's almost just as fast.”
Even before the top ranking, there have been several eye-opening opportunities for the young runner.
Montoya ran a 4:01 mile at the 2012 adidas Dream Mile in New York, which put him up with impressive company like Jim Ryan and Alan Webb, the only two high school juniors in U.S. history to run a faster mile than Montoya.
Montoya also got to attend the U.S. Olympic track trials in Eugene, Ore., where he picked up a few tips on what it takes to become a pro.
“To watch the guys make the team, it was very cool, very inspirational,” Montoya said. “To go there and warm up with professionals and cool down with professionals, it's very cool. They're so focused. This is the Olympic team, it's their jobs. It kind of made me act like that — be serious and get ready. You definitely observe and it's cool to cheer on those guys.”
As for the Olympics, Montoya sees 2016 in Brazil as a very distinct possibility.
“It's a goal. A lot of people definitely believe I can get there, I believe I can get there. Work is done out here on the track and whatever college I go to. It'll be tough in college because you have to focus on other things like studies, but you find a way. It's just going to come down to whoever wants it … and I really want to go to Brazil.”
Montoya will be 21 for the 2016, and though distance runners usually peak in their mid- to late-20s, Montoya knows if he works hard enough, he'll be there.
“It's a learning game — the older you get the wiser you get. Usually, your retirement age for running is 33, 34. But you can do marathons after that, and you're considered to be better at that the older you get. Running is just learning. The older you get, the only thing you lose is your speed.”
Wise words for a kid who hasn't even decided where he's going to college.
“The options are open,” Montoya said. “The opportunities are there to go out of state. I'm going to be respectful of all the programs; I'm going to take a look at all the schools.
“I wouldn't mind staying in state either. The support that Arizona's given me is incredible, and I think to make it to that next level, you need that support to get you there.”
Wherever Montoya decides to go, one thing's for sure: He'll get there fast.