Junior Taryn Martin wrestled a Big Walnut student, Aliya Martin at Hilliard Darby on Feb. 23. Martin won the match in the finals by pin in one minute and 31 seconds, awarding her the title of state champion.
Martin has been wrestling for six years. She previously competed with the boys wrestling team until this past season when the girls formed their own team. Martin made the tough decision to switch over and begin wrestling with the new group of beginners.
“I was nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy practices because it was basic skills all over again, but it was awesome to see everyone grow,” Martin said. Martin was able to practice with both teams throughout the season as she built relationships with the wrestlers and leadership qualities as well.
After Martin put years of preparation into this sport, the hard work truly paid off as she won the title of state champion.
Martin had to work extremely hard on building up her cardio and technique. “I always had to work harder than everyone else because at first I didn’t have the strength to compete with the boys,” Martin said.
Martin has gotten the chance to train with world champions and at the Olympic training center for freestyle wrestling. The different rules of freestyle wrestling allowed her to have a more versatile skill set over other competitors.
“I honestly had no words to describe the way I was feeling. I never thought I would have this opportunity in my career as a wrestler,” Martin said.
Martin’s support system had a large impact on her success as a wrestler. The Girls Wrestling Head Coach Brian Nicola worked closely with Martin throughout the course of the season and got the chance to watch her grow inside and outside of the gym.
“She had to put herself in a position of what it would be like to be brand new as the girls were brand new to this whole thing. The other captains and her did activities together, worked out with the girls throughout the year and taught them a lot about the sport,” Nicola said.
Martin had to work assiduously to earn the respect of the boys transferring to the team last year from Grove City High School and being their only girl on the team.
“The hardest part was being judged by the guys at first; nobody wanted to be the “girl’s” partner,” Martin said.
With the girls team being made up of entirely new wrestlers, it needed a leader it could look up to for guidance. Even if a girl was an athlete, nobody had wrestling experience. Martin rose to the challenge and became their leader.
“Making the choice to leave the boys team and join the girls was a truly selfless decision she made for the good of the team as a whole,” Nicola said.
Martin finished the season with an overall undefeated record of 20-0.
“I just wanted to share the opportunities I have had wrestling with others and show that it doesn’t matter how big or athletic someone is. Wrestling gives everybody the chance to succeed,” Martin said.