By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS – During the entire second flight, Wes Martin sat nervously, fidgeting each time a new thrower came up, then sitting motionless in anticipation of each announced distance.
The Milton-Union senior didn’t need to worry though. After each new throw, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief – all the way to the finals.
Martin popped off a personal-best 54-5.5 in the first flight of the shot put Friday at the Division II state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, putting him in fourth place at the time. And that’s where he remained after the second flight was finished, then only one athlete passed him up in the finals as he took fifth place.
“It feels a lot better than last year,” said Martin, who is leaving for Indiana University today on a football scholarship. “I wanted to get top five if nothing else. There were a lot of kids between 54 and 55 inches though, so it was pretty tight.
“I was anxious to see if I got passed up, but it all worked out.”
It was Martin’s second straight season at the state meet. He finished 10th last season, one place out of qualifying for the finals – a huge motivating factor all year this year.
“I think his success this year started last year when he missed the finals by such a small margin,” Milton-Union head coach Michael Meredith said. “He had this goal set all year. He’s one of the best athletes Milton has had in years, and I think getting fifth was just the icing on the cake. His goal was to make the podium and get some recognition at state, and he did that.”
Martin was the very first thrower on the day right at 9:30 a.m. – something that Milton-Union throwing coach Dan Studebaker took into consideration during Martin’s prep work leading up to the meet.
“We tried to get in as much practice as we could this week around the time frame he’d be throwing today,” Studebaker said.
“We wanted him to be ready for the heat of the day and also get his sleep schedule set.”
“This isn’t Dan’s first rodeo with a state thrower,” Meredith said. “Whatever he was doing to prepare Wes for today, it definitely worked.”
It worked out, too, as Martin threw his best throw on his second throw of the day. From there, it was just a waiting game to ensure that he made the finals.
The closest anyone got to Martin in the second flight was 0.5 inches away, and he went into the finals with a podium spot practically locked up. Thrower by thrower, foul by foul on the third and final throws, Martin solidified his position until Hubbard’s Matt Jones threw a 54-10 on his final throw to jump into fourth. Martin threw another 54-5 on his final throw of the day and placed fifth.
“I feel really good for him,” Studebaker said. “He’s put the work in, and he’s a student of the sport. It makes it much easier to communicate to him the things he needs to do.”
And Martin’s work isn’t over, either.
“I move in at Indiana tomorrow, and classes begin Monday,” Martin said. “Not much time off.”
“He ends one career and goes right into another,” Meredith said. “It’s great to see him do well. He’s a great kid, and he deserves everything he gets.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org