Montoya waits until Friday to sign
The Arizona State cross country and track team will likely snag one of the biggest prizes on the recruiting circuit.
But Cibola's Bernie Montoya is going to make them wait a little bit.
With several schools from all over the country asking for Montoya's service, the three-time cross country state champion is likely to decide to stay in Arizona and became a Sun Devil.
“I liked all the schools but I chose ASU because it felt like home and (Arizona State coach Louie) Quintana felt like my coach,” Montoya said. “He's laid back but knows what he's talking about.”
“We've made all the phone calls,” Cibola coach Kris Norton said about the decision. “We made some tough phone calls to Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oregon that the decision has been made.”
Montoya has verbally committed but won't sign his letter of intent until Friday afternoon.
“I really want my family to be there and they had to work (Wednesday), so Friday was the best day. You only get one shot at this, and I really wanted my family there when I signed it.”
Even a school like Oregon — with a tradition of runners such as Steve Prefontaine and Galen Rupp and the backing of Nike — wasn't enough to get him out of the Grand Canyon State.
“I was very impressed with Oregon, they had very nice facilities and it's amazing what they have with Nike, but it was just different,” Montoya said. “I didn't see myself there long-term.”
“That's something Bernie had to realize he wouldn't be getting if he chose ASU, but he understood that,” Norton said. “Quintana is an excellent coach and ASU has an outstanding track program and cross country program, and a kid like Bernie can take them from strong to a national caliber-type team.”
Montoya went on trips to several of the top running schools in the country, including Oklahoma State, which has won three of the last four cross country national championships. Wisconsin (second-place), Colorado (third), Northern Arizona (fourth) and Texas (ninth) all expressed interest but still, Montoya remains a Sun Devil, which finished the season unranked.
“(Quintana) got so excited when I told him. He was yelling over the phone,” Montoya said with a laugh. “I told him he has nothing to worry about that I didn't sign on Wednesday. My heart is set on Arizona State.”