PICKERINGTON –– East Knox has never had a runner advance all the way to the state tournament. Until now.
On Saturday, Joey Montoya finished his 5000 meters at 17:17.9, good enough for fifth place and a spot among next weekend‘s state finalists.
“It feels great,” Montoya said following the run.
Even 15 minutes following the race, he had trouble speaking, a mixture of emotion and exhaustion almost overwhelming him. But he was comforted by family, friends and coaches.
“Ever since this time last year, he’s worked hard to get to this point. He’s always been the most focused person we’ve had (at East Knox). He knows what his goal is, and now he’s achieved it,” East Knox cross country coach Ron Fannin said.
Montoya was focused from the moment of his arrival at Pickerington North High School. Gear in hand, his eyes stared straight ahead as he made his way to the starting line.
Once the race started, Montoya surged quickly into third place, a position that wasn’t expected so early on. Typically, his strength is in his finish, not his start.
“I’d planned to lay back that first mile, but there was a lot more foot speed, and I wasn’t used to it. It kind of died down throughout the race,” Montoya said.
He stayed among the top 10 throughout. As he neared the finish line, it was clear to everyone he was moving on.