Someday, Korbin Martino hopes he will be in the position of those he was chasing during the Division I state track and field meet June 1 at Ohio State.
The freshman for the Canal Winchester High School boys track and field team finished 12th in the 400 meters in 49.67 seconds, .24 of a second shy of advancing to the final June 2 but considerably faster than he expected himself to be just two months ago.
The top nine finishers in the preliminaries advanced to the final.
"I just told myself, 'Whatever happens, happens.' I was running against kids that are running for (colleges) or trying to get scholarships," said Martino, who was the Indians' lone state qualifier. "I had to come out here and have some fun. I love the sport and I definitely plan to be back next year, and faster. (Not qualifying) is all right, though. I dropped some time. I got here. I can't be disappointed."
Canal Winchester did not score at state. Pickerington Central won the championship with 58 points as 69 teams scored.
Martino was the only freshman in the event at state and only the sixth Division I ninth-grader since 2002 to make state in the 400, an event former Indian Lonzell Feagin won last year in addition to taking first in the 100, second in the 200 and eighth in the long jump.
Feagin now runs for the University of Pittsburgh and watched Martino race June 1.
"The goal was for (Martino) to peak at the league and district (meets) and then he ran out of his mind at the regional," coach Kurtis Robinson said. "We have nothing to be disappointed about. He was nervous. He's a 15-year-old kid. Next year, he will be a 16-year-old man and this will be a whole different ballgame."
Martino was coming off a third-place finish (48.46) in the regional meet that concluded May 25 at Pickerington North. That accounted for all of the Indians' six points that tied them with Dublin Scioto, New Albany, Olentangy and Worthington Kilbourne for 26th behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored, and Martino's time ranked third among all freshmen 400 runners in the country, according to milesplit.com.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
Martino ran 51.98 in his first meet this season, the Newark Invitational on March 31, and finished third. Two weeks later, he won the Hank Smith Invitational at Heath in 49.79.
"My goal coming into this season was just to break 50 seconds," Martino said. "(After the Hank Smith Invitational,) I finally felt like I had the race down."
Martino finished first in the 400 (49.51) in the OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded May 12 at Olentangy Orange, as the Indians placed second (120) behind Big Walnut (164) and ahead of Newark (76), New Albany (75), Groveport (60) and Franklin Heights (26). Martino also was on the winning 1,600 relay (3:31.54) and first-place 3,200 relay (8:23.07).
In the district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, Martino finished third in the 400 (49.16) as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional. Canal Winchester finished ninth (27) behind champion Pickerington Central (158) as 16 teams scored.
Other athletes eligible to return include juniors Zach Akarri (sprints), Jared Bulluck (throws), Will Butler (distance), Gibby Cornett (sprints, hurdles) and Wally Kalinowski (throws) and sophomores Dom Davis (jumps, sprints), Drew Kotwis (distance) and Tyler Toledo (jumps, sprints).
"We should be a very strong team next year," Robinson said. "We're bringing in a strong eighth-grade class with some very good sprinters. This was probably the deepest team we've ever had, and we're just adding more depth for next year. We should be even better."
Martino hopes that applies for him as well. His father had 35 shirts printed up reading "10 seniors, 7 juniors, only 1 freshman," referencing the breakdown of the 400 field, with a picture of Martino racing and the hashtag of "champmartino." Most of the fans wearing them greeted him several minutes after the race with hugs and words of encouragement.
"(Robinson) and I always say there are two H's to track -- humble and hungry," Martino said. "That's kind of where I'm at right now, trying to stay humble and trying to stay hungry."
Sprinters expected back for girls team
The girls team's season came to an end at the Division I regional meet, where the Indians were represented by two relays and senior thrower Emily Clubb.
The 400 relay of junior Ariana Coleman and sophomores Shalea Byrd, Taylor Davie and Anaya Edwards placed 10th (50.57), the 800 relay of senior N'Daia Hamilton, Byrd, Coleman and Edwards was 11th (1:46.33) and Clubb finished 12th in the discus (103 feet, 10 inches). The Indians did not earn any points, as Gahanna won (84) and 32 teams scored.
Senior Erica Babusci, a Pittsburgh recruit, repeated as OCC-Capital champion in both the 100 hurdles (15.71) and 300 hurdles (47.58) but fell short of regional by finishing fifth in district 2 in the 300 hurdles (46.46) and sixth in the 100 hurdles (16.1).
Coleman set a program record in the long jump (18-1/4) at the league meet, helping lead Canal Winchester to 126 points and second place behind Big Walnut (137) and ahead of New Albany (113), Groveport (81), Newark (50) and Franklin Heights (16).
Clubb was league champion in the discus (106-9) and then won the district 2 title in the event with a throw of 114-1, as the Indians finished sixth (47) behind champion Gahanna (164) as 16 teams scored.
Other athletes eligible to return include sophomores Taylor Davie (hurdles), Jaedyn Johnson (jumps, sprints), Cassie Kolonchuk (distance) and Angela Postage (middle distance) and freshmen Bonnie Butler (distance) and Allena Klamorick (distance).