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Kaysville • Davis runner Shea Martinez saw her chance with roughly 1,200 meters to go in the recent Class 5A state girls' cross-country championship race. The experienced senior made her move and broke open a 20-meter lead heading into the final stretch.
But then something unexpected happened Martinez ran out of gas. She plummeted to a seventh-place finish.
After winning the state title in her sophomore and junior years, it was not the finish Martinez envisioned in the swan song of her in-state high school career. But the disappointment has motivated rather than discouraged.
"I felt good when I took off, and then my body just shut down," Martinez said. "It was disappointing in that way, but knowing I tried and gave it a push makes it better.
"I've tried to find the positives out of the race. It's a learning experience."
Even in defeat, Davis coach Corbin Talley said the race showcased Martinez's tremendous talent because only an elite runner could have made the move to grab the lead in the first place.
"To me, it was one of her greatest moments," Talley said. "It doesn't look like it on paper or if you didn't know Shea. ... Yeah she faded to seventh, but if you saw the race, you'd know that her race was a lot better than a seventh-place finish. She just didn't have 400 meters in her."
Martinez impressed Talley with how she responded to the adversity, something she has not faced often during her illustrious career at Davis.
"Someone in that position is going to feel a lot of pressure," Talley said. "Every race she's in, there's always this feeling that everyone is counting on her, if not to win, to be one of the top two. ... To go into the race with that pressure and the fear of 'What if?' and then to still be able to make that move, I think she's going to bounce back."
While the state championship race was the last in-state cross-country meet of her high school career, Martinez still has a chance to go out on a high note. Martinez, along with the rest of her Davis teammates, will race in the Nike Southwest Regional on Nov. 17 in Mesa, Ariz.
"I'm excited. I want to go out with a bang," Martinez said. "It's weird. It's my last chance. Every race this season I've wanted to do my best because it would be my last."
Martinez finished third in the Southwest Regional her sophomore year, which sent her to Nationals, before slipping to 51st as a junior last year.
"She's had a great race there and a not-so-great race there the last two years on the same course," Talley said. "But every race she's in, she's going to be in contention to be one of the top athletes."
Whatever the result of the regional, Talley sees bright things in Martinez's future. Though she's undecided on which college to attend, Martinez hopes to run in college and eventually beyond.
"She may be looking down the road at some national track championships or racing in the U.S. Olympic trials," Talley said.