Santos rises to challenges
In the CNMI sports community that has been dominated by athletes from Saipan, Tinian’s Tyler Santos has proven he can keep up with the cream of the crop.
After joining sprints races when he was in seventh grade, Santos blossomed to become a top middle distance runner, earning him a spot on the CNMI National Team that competed in the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap and the Oceania Micronesian Regional Championships 2018, numerous victories in local races, and a ticket to the Australian Cross Country Championships/ Oceania Cross Country Championships.
Santos, who graduated at the Tinian Junior and Senior High School student last week, recorded these accomplishments despite the challenges he faced as an athlete coming from Tinian.
“Coming from Tinian, it’s a small island and I know it’s tough to get the drive and motivation to push myself because of the lack of competition here, but I learned that the only real competition that matters the most is myself,” said Santos.
“With track, whenever I was prepping for a big upcoming event, I was always training on my own, doing research and looking up at different exercises and techniques, and making training plans. It was already tough training without an actual track and field to run on, but I just had to work with what I had and make the most out of it,” the Tinian pride added.
Santos was a regular at the Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships and was named top athlete in the boys U18 age group last year. He also joined and won the Northern Marianas Athletics-organizer Turkey Trot Run and suited up for the Tinian Stallions that ruled the 2019-2020 Public School System Interscholastic Boys High School Basketball League following a thrilling 38-36 victory against regular season top finisher Mt. Carmel School early this year.
“It (basketball championship) was a huge accomplishment for me and a memorable gift from the players I’ve watched grow on this team. Ever since I’ve moved down to Tinian and played for coach Keith (Nabors), it has always been my dream to cut the net. It took four years, but it was one hell of a ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Santos, who used to live at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas before returning to Tinian.
Santos also treasures his time with the CNMI National Team when they competed in the Micronesian Games in Yap two years ago.
“My most memorable running competition would be the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap. It was my first time representing the CNMI in a huge event and I medalled for third place in the 1,500m setting a new PR (personal best record). I’ve never felt prouder to stand on that podium,” said Santos.
The Tinian athlete clocked in at 4:39.48 in the 1,500m to join Guam’s Joshua Bustre (4:28.03) and Palau’s Christian Etpison Nicolescu (4:35.50) in the Top 3.
Santos, who will be enrolling at the Northern Marianas College before enlisting with the U.S. Air Force, hopes to don the CNMI colors anew.
“I do look forward to hopefully be representing the CNMI again in the 2022 Micronesian Games and seeing old friends I’ve made along the way,” added Santos, who wishes to become a Combat Controller specialist in the USAF Special Warfare.
As he starts another career after accomplishing his mission as a student-athlete, the 19-year-old thanked his family, coaches, teammates, and friends who supported him through the years.
“To my parents, thank you for always believing in me and pushing me to not only become a better athlete but also a better person. To coach Keith, coach Jayron Epity, coach Robin Sapong and to the rest of the NMA coaches that helped shape me into the athlete I am today. Thank you! To my best friend Charlene, thank you for always being one of my best supporters whether I’m winning or losing, you’re always there for me,” Santos said.
“To all my teammates, thank you for always having my back and joining me in this journey. To the friends I’ve made through sports, thank you for the bonds and memories we’ve made together. To the people of Tinian, thank you for all the support, I’m proud to represent our little island.”