Columbus junior wins state title with grandfather looking forward to 1st time


LAUREL – The past few years have been some of the longest in Leif Torgerson’s life.

“He was always with her, every day, all the time,” said Leif’s grandson Colby Martinez. “He couldn’t leave her.”

“She lived in an assisted living in Great Falls so he never wanted to be more than within earshot,” repeated Leif’s daughter Lorie Martinez.

Leif’s wife, Sheila, fell ill before Colby started high school, so the grandparents never got to see Colby in person at a competition.

“We’d send a lot of videos and pictures and see them when we weren’t in the busy sports season,” said Lorie, “but it was extremely tough for all of us not to have my mom and dad here.”

Sheila died on April 14th. As tough as the last few years have been, these last six weeks have been even tougher for Lorie. One of the necklace she wears reads: ‘My mother taught me everything except how to live without her.’

But family has always helped this group through the toughest things in life, so Leif decided it was time to see his. That coincidentally coincided with State B Athletics at Laurel.

“The fact that I was able to spend everything with my daughter and my grandson is very, very important to me,” said Leif.

“When he told us he could do it – this is his first trip in at least four years – it meant all of us,” added Lorie.

“I thought, ‘I have to do it for him,'” Colby said before Leif’s visit. “That gave me additional motivation.”

Photo courtesy Lorie Martinez

Colby Martinez sprints down the runway during the State B long jump competition.

Martinez had five events on his weekend schedule, but his focus was on the long jump all season, much to Mum’s horror.

“My mother said, ‘You can’t do it. I don’t want you to get hurt, ‘”said Colby.” And I was like,’ I’ll do it this year whether you like it or not. ‘”

“He’s had troubled knee problems for a long time and in the first week of training he’s in the long jump pit and I was like, ‘You don’t jump,'” said Lorie. “He says, ‘I’m jumping.’ We had a discussion about it and I lost. Now I’m glad he didn’t listen to me for once. “

Colby clearly had a natural talent for it and came with the fourth best grade in class B. But on his last jump of the season – with Grandpa in view – gave him a little more.

“I don’t usually hit the board,” Colby admitted. “My grades are always bad – I’m usually a foot behind – so when I hit the board I knew, ‘Oh, that’s good.'”

It was – a personal record of 21’4 “to put Colby in the lead. But there were two jumpers left.

“That was brutal. I was very scared, ”said Lorie. “Before he made his jump, I said a prayer and felt that my mother was with him. I really think she helped him pull it off. “

None of the last two jumpers could overtake Colby. Realizing he’d won, he did his best high jump audition and almost stepped over the fence to celebrate with those he loved most.

Colby Martinez fence

Photo courtesy Lorie Martinez

Colby Martinez almost jumped over the fence to celebrate with his mother Lorie after winning the State B long jump competition.

“Big emotions for me too,” Leif said afterwards, “because I could see how much it meant to Colby. He played so well. “

“We could have a good friend of ours take the pictures and when I saw the picture last night I started shooting again,” said Lorie.

Colby’s jump was the culmination of months of hard work, the amalgamation of all that natural talent and the right technique. But was it something else?

“We talked to everyone in the house last night,” Colby said. “What are the chances that (Grandfather) would be here? We all said, ‘Exactly’. It was a great feeling to have him with us. “

“It’s been such a tough year with COVID and my mother,” Lorie said, “and when he has this moment, it’s just a moment none of us will forget.”

Colby Martinez Leif Torgerson

Photo courtesy Lorie Martinez

Colby Martinez poses for a picture with his grandfather Leif Torgerson after winning the State B long jump title. It was the first time Torgerson Martinez was able to compete in person in his high school career.