Girls Wrestling: Olentangy Orange's Taryn Martin caps dominating run with second state title
The enormity of the situation became apparent to Taryn Martin.
The Olentangy Orange senior had just won her second girls wrestling state championship Feb. 21 at Hilliard Davidson in spectacular fashion, pinning Casstown Miami East’s Kaylee Griffith in 33 seconds in the 170-pound final. It was the final match in a prep career that had Martin winning 42 times the last two seasons without a loss.
Afterward, the emotion flowed as she was surrounded by teammates. The tears were born from both joy and sorrow, with her dreams being realized but her career with the Pioneers having ended.
“(The tears) were all about pretty much everything,” Martin said. “(My teammates) were happy I won and I was happy I won, obviously. It was great to be with (my teammates) one last time like that.”
In its second year, the girls state tournament was split into two days, with the 101 to 131 weight classes competing Feb. 20 and 137 to 235 taking to the mats a day later.
“Individually, it wasn’t tough (at state), but mentally it was tough,” Martin said. “I knew it was my last go-round. The hardest part was having my team split up (for the two-day tournament). We’re a huge family.”
Martin put up impressive numbers in her career. She was 19-0 at 137 last season with 17 pins, one technical fall and one decision. This season, the Tiffin recruit was 23-0 with 21 pins and two forfeits.
At state, Martin pinned Rocky River Lutheran West’s Amy Zell in 33 seconds in the first round, Marysville’s Olana Chapman in 27 seconds in the second round and Mount Orab Western Brown’s Abi Miller in 1:20 in a semifinal. Her mat time in her four matches was 2:53.
Orange assistant coach Vanessa Oswalt said Martin was the unquestioned leader of the Pioneers.
“You could see after Taryn’s (championship) match, the whole team was so emotional,” Oswalt said. “She is the person that they look up to in helping lead them.
“I think Taryn really grew as an individual and as a leader. The biggest turning point for her was being a leader of this team. She just did a 180 from last year. She was new to being the leader for a female team last year and really trying to understand what her roles were and what she could do to grow and guide this team. This year, it was so natural to her.”
The Pioneers finished third (95 points) behind Marysville (131.5) and Miami East (103) as 85 teams scored.
Sara Borton (111) and Ayla Castin (121) both placed fifth for Orange, and Casey Homorody (160) was sixth.
“We weren’t sure if we would even have a season but you have to realize that stuff happens,” said Martin, whose team was runner-up to Miami East at state last season. “You can either cry about it or move on. We had to make so many changes, and we came so far.”
Martin competed in a youth tournament in the fifth grade before beginning workouts as a sixth-grader. Her prep career started at Grove City, where she was the varsity boys 106-pounder as a freshman and went 1-2 in the Division I district tournament to finish the season 20-14.
As a sophomore, her family moved to Orange. That’s when she realized how important it would be to have girls wrestling as a separate sport.
“Wrestling at 106 wasn’t as difficult, and I thought having (girls wrestling) would be nice but it wasn’t needed,” she said. “Then as a sophomore, I put on a little more weight and I was wrestling in the 120s. I was like ‘these guys are strong.’ I had more technique than them but if I couldn’t match their strength, it wasn’t going to matter.
“I would talk with (Orange assistant) coach (Brian) Nicola about (having a girls team) and he reached out to Vanessa and all of the parents and coaches from the area. Coach (Shawn) Andrews at Marysville started putting some things together, and I’m so grateful for what all of them have done (for the sport).”
Oswalt said Martin has been a role model at Orange not just with her leadership but by helping her teammates realize there is no limit to what lies ahead.
“Taryn understands wrestling, and she understands both the individual and team aspects of it,” Oswalt said. “She’s wrestling at a world level, and that has helped her grow as an athlete herself and it gives her a better understanding of different concepts and competition.
“She can show her teammates that there is life after wrestling. She’s going to go to college for wrestling. That’s what we push the girls to do, if there’s an opportunity.”
Martin, who has a 3.5 GPA, plans to study psychology at Tiffin. She said wrestling has made that opportunity possible.
“There are so many aspects to how wrestling has helped me,” she said. “It has made me 100 percent hard-working in everything that I do. I want to do everything to my best ability. I feel like I have to take advantage of every opportunity that I have.”