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Indy’s Martinez earns Herff Jones Heart of the Team award

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Region 6-AAA Cross Country

Nate Martinez 

THOMPSON’S STATION – Nate Martinez isn’t a flashy guy, but when it comes to pushing and promoting his teammates, he’s as loud and dedicated as they come.

Independence High School cross country coach Luke Finley said he loves hearing Martinez’s voice rooting on his Eagles teammates each day.

“At the end of workouts, he hits the line and he’s sweating and his heart rate is probably at 200, but he’s right there cheering every guy off the line,” Finley said. “He’s gassed and in the moment, but he immediately deflects and is right there for the rest of the guys.”

For his dedication to his team, Martinez was selected as the weekly Herff Jones Heart of the Team award winner. Herff Jones has partnered with the Williamson Herald to highlight student-athletes like Martinez, and in addition to the recognition, he will be featured on a live broadcast from Tony’s Eat and Drink in Franklin Monday at 6 p.m. as part of the live “WillCo Sports Power Hour” broadcast.

Martinez burst onto the distance scene at the Thompson’s Station school as a sophomore. He went on to set the school record in cross country surprising his coaches with his quick development.

Finley said training “didn’t quite click” for Martinez as a junior through the cross country season, but he regained momentum during outdoor track and field over the spring. Martinez finished on the podium at the Class AAA state track and field championships in the 1,600-meter run, placing seventh overall with a time of 4 minutes, 26.18 seconds. He set his personal best about a week earlier in the sectional meet in 4:21.51 – the 22nd fastest time in the state for 2022.

“He kind of had that breakthrough we were looking for,” Finley said. “Now, he pretty much is going to leave here as the best male distance runner ever to come through the school.”

There's plenty more running left as well.

Martinez has already shaved even more time off his school record in cross country. At the Voyles Classic on Sept 10, he closed in 15:39.68 to place third overall. He ran a 15:43.74 a week later at the Southern Showcase in Alabama.

Finishing all-state in cross country is the goal this season, Finley said.

“Anything can happen, but if we did the meet today, he has the time to be there,” Finley said. “He has been the top runner since his sophomore year here and he’s had to shoulder the load for us up front and that can be a lot.”

Martinez, who is also a National Merit Semifinalist, is the team captain and does everything from lead team stretches to being a leader in the weight room.

“Nate is our unquestioned team captain,” Finley said. “He’s in the best shape of his life and we’re excited for him.”

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