How do you describe a second-place finish at one of the toughest tournaments in the state? A tournament in which you finish ahead of two former state runners-up?
Well, if you‚Äôre Wapakoneta Redskins junior John ‚ÄúJ.T.‚ÄĚ Martin, the answer is, ‚ÄúNot good enough.‚ÄĚ
That was exactly how the Redskins 106-pounder felt after his result at last week‚Äôs Top Gun Tournament at Alliance High School.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a tough tournament,‚ÄĚ Martin said between matches at the Wapakoneta Invitational on Saturday. ‚ÄúIt feels good to be successful there. But I got second, so I know I‚Äôve got to work.
‚ÄúI can‚Äôt just be satisfied with getting second at Top Gun. I‚Äôve got to work to get better. You‚Äôve got goals, and to get those goals you‚Äôve got to work hard and put the time in.‚ÄĚ
It is exactly that drive and determination that propelled Martin to the state tournament in both his freshman and sophomore years. And after two years of wrestling in the rather large shadow cast by former state champion and state runner-up Logan Erb, Martin is ready to cast a shadow of his own.
Anything less than a state title this year would be ‚Äúnot good enough.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs been my goal all along,‚ÄĚ Martin said. ‚ÄúI feel like I have the potential to get a state title and anything short of it, I know I have to work harder.
‚ÄúAnd I know that I won‚Äôt be satisfied. Even if I win a state title, I won‚Äôt be satisfied, because I‚Äôll have to come back the next year and do it again.‚ÄĚ
If Martin can accomplish that goal, he will join Erb and Brent Miller as the only state wrestling champions from Wapakoneta. Erb and Miller won their titles in the now defunct 215-pound weight class. Martin competes in the newly created 106-pound class.
‚ÄúThe lighter-weight guys on our team, they don‚Äôt like to wrestle him,‚ÄĚ Redskins varsity coach Jason Rostorfer said. ‚ÄúHe doesn‚Äôt take it easy on anybody. He‚Äôll shove them in the wall. He‚Äôll throw them off the mat. He wrestles hard. And if they don‚Äôt wrestle hard, they‚Äôre going to get beat up pretty good.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs got that attitude and that‚Äôs why he‚Äôs winning as many as he is. I don‚Äôt think he‚Äôs the most talented wrestler. But he‚Äôs the hardest working wrestler we have and he‚Äôs made himself into what he‚Äôs doing now. The credit goes to him and his work ethic.‚ÄĚ
Rostorfer said that work ethic was on display after Martin struggled to a seventh-place finish at the prestigious Brecksville Holiday Tournament in late December.
‚ÄúJ.T. is a kid that will have setbacks and he uses that to motivate him,‚ÄĚ Rostorfer said. ‚ÄúHe got seventh at Brecksville and his comment was, ‚ÄėThat‚Äôs not good enough. That‚Äôs not going to happen again.‚Äô His mentality is, I‚Äôm going to go to practice and I‚Äôm going to do something to fix it. And that‚Äôs why he practices as hard as he can.‚ÄĚ
Martin has had to take on a new role for the Redskins this season. As a freshman and sophomore, he watched experience veterans such as Erb and Jake Beemer lead the way. Now he‚Äôs the leader of a new generation of Wapak wrestlers.
‚ÄúAbsolutely he‚Äôs the leader,‚ÄĚ Rostorfer said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs the one who starts our practices, gets them running, gets them warmed up. He leads by example is the biggest thing.
‚ÄúMy philosophy is talk is cheap. Anybody can say they‚Äôre going to do something. But J.T. doesn‚Äôt talk about what he‚Äôs going to do. He just goes out and does it. And it shows.‚ÄĚ
Said Martin, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs different. I‚Äôve always been looking up to those guys. It‚Äôs like I‚Äôm following in their footsteps. I‚Äôve got to pick up right where they left off. But I want to exceed what they did. I want to be even a better leader.
‚ÄúAnd you can ask the guys, I‚Äôve been stepping it up in practice. I‚Äôve been intense. I‚Äôve been pushing everybody else. I want to be that great leader that they were.‚ÄĚ
Martin wrestles and lifts year-round, hitting the mat at least twice a week during the offseason.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs my life,‚ÄĚ he said.
The intensity of the one-on-one struggle is what appeals the most to him.
‚ÄúYou control whether you win, whether you‚Äôre successful,‚ÄĚ Martin said. ‚ÄúYou control whether you‚Äôre varsity. A coach can‚Äôt tell you, ‚ÄėHey, you‚Äôre not going to wrestle,‚Äô because you‚Äôve got to win in a wrestle-off. I like that. You control everything. When you win, it feels great.‚ÄĚ
And to have a ‚ÄúJ.T. Martin State Champion‚ÄĚ placard hanging next to the ones for Erb and Miller?
‚ÄúThat would be amazing,‚ÄĚ Martin said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs undescribable. I‚Äôve been at state. I‚Äôve seen Logan win it. And I‚Äôve seen me come short. And it just fuels me. I want to win it so bad. It would just be an amazing feeling to win a state title. And that‚Äôs my goal.‚ÄĚ
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