BRANDON MARTIN

Commerce's Brandon Martin picked up two wins last week, placing first at a meet at Tallulah Falls on Sept. 8 and then at Franklin County on Sept. 12. 

Commerce’s Brandon Martin continues to run like a man not content to just win one state title.

Last year’s Class A Public state champion claimed another first-place finish, while the Tigers placed third Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Franklin County Pridelands Invitational.

Martin — who actually won two meets during the week — ran a 16:31.70 to win the 90-runner varsity race. He finished in first by 15 seconds over second-place Evan Prince of Tallulah Falls.

“Brandon is running great,” Commerce coach Mark Hale said. “He is now running at an extremely high level and can compete with the best runners in the state. I am proud of how he is winning races this year against good competition. He has worked hard and put in many miles to get to this point.”

J.J. Morris added a sixth-place finish with a time of 18:26.46. Josh Zelaya finished 13th with a time of 19:17.30. Rounding out the top five were Kade Morgan (30th, 20:41.48) and Dominic Ricci (32nd, 20:48.60).

Clarke Central (65 points) and Loganvillle (68 points) finished ahead of Commerce in the 10-team meet.

“The boys team is running solidly, but we are still looking for a little more consistency from several runners,” Hale said.

For the girls, Paden Bell placed fourth in a 56-runner field with a time of 21:37.64 as Commerce finished fifth out of seven teams.

Following Bell were Ermay Vazquez (14th, 24:49.26), Angel Hart (29th, 27:01.04), Rachel English (31st, 27:25.82) and Hannah English (39th, 28:31.64).

“I was really proud of the girls team at Franklin County,” Hale said. “We had five of our seven runners post a season-best time on a tough course. We don't have much depth on the girls team, so each runner has to do their part, and this was our best team effort of the season."

At Tallulah Falls earlier in the week, Bell and Martin each won their respective races, while the boys’ team took first in the team standings during a Tuesday (Sept. 8) meet. 

Bell ran a 22:14.30 to win the girls’ race, while Martin outran the field in the boys’ race with a time of 16:34.20.

Contributing to the boys’ first-place team finish were Zelaya (sixth, 19:14.50), Morris (eighth, 19:29.70), Morgan (14th, 20:19.90) and Ricci (17th, 20:37.90).

Commerce (46 points) finished 29 points ahead of second-place Johnson in the eight-team meet. Hale said it was “great to win a team race at Tallulah Falls.”

“Those victories are always special,” he said.

The girls finished fifth out of eight teams. Following Bell were Vazquez (14th, 25:55.50), Hart (25th, 27:42.20), Carson Hawkins (30th, 28:23.60) and Hannah English (32nd, 29:04.10).

“Paden ran a very smart race at Tallulah Falls to win that one in the last half mile,” Hale said. “Paden has had a good start to the season. She continues to learn what it takes to be a great runner, and she is working to get to that level.”

Commerce runs again on Sept. 24 at Social Circle’s Redskin Invitational.

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