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Flores becomes Lone Star Conference top performer

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A photo of Erik Flores, who is running track at the University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. (Submitted Photo)

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Former Hagerman product, Erik Burciaga-Flores, added another honor to his name. He was recently voted to the All Lone Star Conference team in cross country at the University of Texas Permian Basin. At the Lone Star Conference meet, Flores finished 12th with a time of 26:08.10, in Silver City, New Mexico, and was one of five freshmen to make all-conference.

Hagerman senior Martin Flores placed third at state last year with a time of 16:29. (File Photo)

“I’m extremely proud of the season Erik has had,” UTPB coach Alick Musukuma said, “especially considering he’s a freshman. I’m excited to see how he competes at the South Central Regionals and moving forward.”

The UTPB program is 10 years old and Flores has been the brightest star on a young team with six freshmen. Flores credits the running program his coach sent him to over the summer. He followed it diligently and overtrained running as much as 65 miles a week. Flores trained so much he injured his knee this summer.

“I took three weeks off,” Erik said. “I don’t think my body was used to running that many miles. I was hurting a bit, my knees started hurting.”

While he stopped running toward the end of summer, he still hit the weights to maintain his strength. Erik would need that base of running for what the team was doing this season. When he first got to school, the team’s first workout was an 8-mile tempo run.

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Erik feels like people in the city of Odessa, Texas, has made him feel at home. The weather in Odessa makes him feel like he’s in Roswell. The running is at a higher pace and he will run as many as 12 miles a day on his long days during the season. The overall distance has been cut back to 45 miles a week during the season.

“Marty is one of the hardest,” former Hagerman coach Alex Morales said, “if not the hardest working individuals I have had the privilege of coaching. He knows what he wants in life and busts his tail for it. I’m very proud of this young man, I cannot wait to see what else is in store for him.”

Erik was named Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Week and Runner of the Week in the same week on Oct. 2. Erik broke the UTPB school record with a time of 25:14.08 for an 8K at the New Mexico Junior College Invitational. He did this in the third race of his career.

“That was great,” Erik said. “It was a great booster, it really helps to be recognized for something you’ve been working hard for. I was proud of the hard work I put in over the summer.”

Erik was all-state at Hagerman for four years in track and cross country. He had offers to run at bigger schools out of high school but wanted to attend UTPB because they gave him the best offer, and they offered his major: Petroleum Engineering. Another deciding factor was that the classes would be small.

“I’m enjoying classes,” Erik said. “My professors and classmates are really helpful. It’s a small school and if you ever need any help or you’re struggling, the professors know your name and they will sit down and talk to you and help you out. I’m really enjoying that part of the school.”

Once Flores is done with athletics, he wants to move back to Hagerman and be involved with the community. He loves the town and how he was raised. Flores thinks it would be nice to raise his family there. One of his biggest moments in Erik’s high school career was when Hagerman won state as a team in 2017.

“Coming in as a freshman,” Erik said, “you’re not going to be the top dog always, but you have to learn and adapt. You can never be afraid of the competition. Now, I prepare myself mentally for a race — if you’re not mentally prepared, you won’t make it through a race.”

Erik qualified for the NCAA Division II South Central Regionals on Nov. 9, in Canyon, Texas.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.