When it comes to Loyola’s long-standing cross country records, they are no match for one of the newest Ramblers on the team — University of Nebraska alumni and 23-year-old graduate Ryan Martins. Martins said his dedication to the sport grew fiercely throughout the last 10 years and his passion was fueled by the support system …
Loyola’s ‘All-American’ Cross Country Trailblazer Ryan Martins
When it comes to Loyola’s long-standing cross country records, they are no match for one of the newest Ramblers on the team — University of Nebraska alumni and 23-year-old graduate Ryan Martins. Martins said his dedication to the sport grew fiercely throughout the last 10 years and his passion was fueled by the support system he has back at his home in New Jersey.
Martins is finishing out his first and last year as a Rambler, receiving national recognition for shattering multiple program records in just one semester. During the fall 2022 season, Martins became Loyola’s first All-American selection since Jim Westphal in 1991, while being additionally distinguished as a United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Athlete.
“It’s surreal, because it was never a position I saw myself being in,” Martins said. “I always wondered what it would be like to be an All-American, but I never related that to myself. I looked at all of these other guys and wondered what that felt like for them, but I never really thought about what it felt like for myself.”
He said he would remember the moment he received the title for his entire lifetime. Regarding the combined honor of receiving the All-Academic title, he expressed his excitement to be able to “compete at the highest level both on the course and in the classroom”.
Martins’ dedication to pushing himself to higher limits led him to break a 31-year-old record in the 5000m run with a time of 13 minutes and 33 seconds — beating previous record holder Westphal by 23 seconds.
“The 5000m record was a long-standing record and not only did Ryan break it, he smashed it.” Loyola Head Coach Gavin Kennedy said. “That’s a massive achievement. It truly should be plastered on every platform.”
In a little over a year, Martins was able to improve his performance significantly following his time at Nebraska, boosting his 5k time by 41 seconds — going from 14 minutes and 41 seconds to his record-breaking time of 13 minutes and 33 seconds — in just 14 months.
Kennedy said he never could’ve imagined what would come of Martins’ short time at Loyola but expressed his gratitude in being able to work with his presence every day. Kennedy also said he sees a lot of himself in Martins, one being Martins’ persistent work ethic, which he said he admires.
“We feel like we’re waking up from a dream,” Kennedy said laughing. “Ryan superseded every expectation he and I have had. I wish I had the privilege to have him another year.”
Teammate and fellow All-Academic athlete Chris Devaney spoke of Martins’ inspiration to his fellow athletes, describing Martins as an enthusiastic player who loves to chat and catch up with his teammates. He also praised Martins’ intuitive, hard-working qualities and said he’s proud to see Martins is being recognized for it.
“To be in an atmosphere at Loyola that just promotes this desire and drive to be successful and compete at the highest level has definitely been the biggest impact,” Martins said. “I think coming here and being put in an environment where success is a crucial part of who you are as an athlete has really helped me perform at my best.”
Above all, Devaney highlighted Martins’ result-oriented approach to the sport and said he “continues to pave the way for this program” with the results he’s seen in the previous months. Devaney said Martins is motivational and sets examples for his fellow teammates and athletes with his continuous and rapid improvement.
Although Martins credits local support to his community at Loyola, Martins’ dedication to success began when he attended a teammate’s event during his time at Nebraska. As he watched a teammate qualify for nationals at a meet at Oklahoma State University, Martins said something clicked inside him, which harbored the realization that he strived to be in the same position.
Strikingly, just under a year and a half later on Nov. 19, Martins placed 29th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, where he also qualified for nationals on the same Oklahoma Stillwater course that kickstarted his passion.
Martins’ high-achiever attitude allowed him to make swift improvements in a brief amount of time to accomplish one of his biggest aspirations for his collegiate career. Martins said he believes that once you enter the NCAA, experience becomes your best friend — Martins certainly has it in abundance.
“With this being my sixth year, I realized this isn’t going to last forever,” Martins said. “I need to be all-in on this now more than ever, so I can walk away happy with what I’ve done here.”
Though Martins’ time at Loyola was short-lived, he leaves behind a legacy of records coupled with a congenial personality that did not go unrecognized by the community around him.