Wings captures national title
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By Pancho Morris | The New Mexican
February 13, 2007

Dustin Martin continued his championship season Saturday when he paced Wings of America to the junior men’s team title at the USA Track & Field 2007 Cross Country Championships in Boulder, Colo.

Martin, Navajo, finished eighth overall as Wings celebrated its 20th national title in the past 19 years. In November, Martin ran second to teammate Ben Johnson, as Albuquerque Academy won its third straight state cross country team championship and eighth in the last nine seasons.

“It was a great race and I don’t feel tired, which means perhaps I might have pushed it more,” Martin, who led for the first 21⁄2 laps, said Saturday. “Oh well, I’m only 17 years old and I’m still eligible again next year.”

Martin, who received early acceptance to Columbia University in Manhattan, covered the 8-kilometer distance in 26 minutes, 30 seconds.

Elliot Heath of Winona, Minn., pulled away in the final 3 kilometers to take individual honors in 26:07. Matt Tebo, a senior at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque was third in 26:22, while Ryan McNiff, the 2005 AAAA individual state champion from Los Alamos, was fourth in 26:23.

Those places assured Tebo and McNiff, a freshman at Adams State University, of representing Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, set for March 24 in Mombasa, Kenya. The top six finishers automatically qualified.

Should two decline the invitation, Martin would be next in line.

The Academy senior was joined on the victory platform by Wings teammates Ray Suina, Victor Zazueta, Ryan Nez, Sammy Smith and Marc Whirlwind Soldier. Suina, Nez and Smith are Navajo, Zazueta is Yaqui and Whirlwind Soldier is Rosebud Sioux.

Wings placed fourth in the junior women’s race. Jordan Brown, a Gallup High School freshman, was the top Wings finisher. Brown, Navajo, ran 34th overall in 24:50 for 6 kilometers.

Katrina Lee, Marilyn Curley, Vinita Joe, Nikki Poncho and Kyla Marshall comprised the Wings roster. Lee, Curley and Joe are Navajo. Poncho is Acoma and Marshall is Rosebud Sioux.

Wings of America is a youth development program of the Earth Circle Foundation, based in Santa Fe. It was founded in 1988 and has served more than 20,000 American Indian youths through programs and camps.

Contact Pancho Morris at 995-3835 or