Fourteen-year-old Eric Torres set a goal for himself last year to be the best runner in the nation - now, he is.

The Robstown High School freshman recently returned from the 2010 AAU Track and Field National Championship in Norfolk, Va. with some extra hardware around his neck and the title of national champion. Torres, the reigning 3,000-meter and 1,500-meter Regional Champion, placed first in the 3,000-meter race on the national level with a time of 9:35.35.

He finished fourth in the 1,500-meter race, posting a time of 4:26.39.

Fellow Robstown runner, Justus Flores, finished 39th in the 1,500-meter race, with a time of 4:48.48.

Despite the magnitude of the victory, or maybe because of it, Eric could only manage a smile when asked how it felt to have accomplished his goal of being the best in the country.

"It was fun - I loved it," he said.

Eric had competed in the same event last year in Des Moines, Iowa, but placed sixth overall. He set a goal for himself after the competition that the next time he competed at the national level he would leave a champion.

"I wanted my revenge," he said.

Because Eric has been involved in track since the age of seven, Eric's mother, Erica Ortega, said she and her husband, Steven, were excited to see him compete at such a high level. The thrill was heightened even more, she added, in seeing him win.

"When he got first place, we were so excited for him," she said.

"You could hear them screaming from the track," Eric added.

In spite of the modesty that comes from winning such a large event, the competitor in Eric eventually surfaced when talking about his victory. The time between first and second place in the 3,000-meter race was about 16 seconds, leaving a gap of about 100 meters, he said.

"It builds me up that I can tell someone I can beat them," Eric said. "It just makes me feel good to run."

Eric said with his goal of being a national champion being realized, he now wants to help the Robstown Cotton Pickers bring a state track and cross country title to his hometown.