Track & Field: Canal Winchester's Korbin Martino shows versatility

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Canal Winchester junior Korbin Martino, who advanced to the state track and field meet in the 400 meters each of the past two seasons as well as helping two relays to top-eight finishes last year, is one of the nation's top recruits. He set or helped set five program records last season.

With Korbin Martino having advanced to the Division I state meet in the 400 meters each of the past two years in addition to helping two relays to top-eight finishes last season, it might seem like his place in the Canal Winchester boys track and field team's lineup was set.

Thanks to Martino's versatility and talent, that wasn't necessarily the case.

"We were looking at possibly the 400 and 200," coach Kurtis Robinson said. "We were contemplating trying to run the 800 and maybe the 300 hurdles. Korbin is a phenomenal athlete, probably one of the top 20 400 runners I can remember in state history. Still, I don't know that we had it figured out. We really want to get him a state championship in something. We need to figure out where he has the best opportunity."

Martino, a junior and one of the nation's top recruits who set or helped set five program records last year, has embraced variety since his freshman year even with one event seemingly having emerged as his best.

Martino placed 12th in the 400 at state as a freshman after finishing third at both district and regional. On the spur of the moment, he competed in the New Balance Nationals shortly after the state meet and recorded a time of 49.61 seconds, .06 of a second faster than his state-meet time and third-fastest among all freshmen in the country.

As a sophomore, Martino repeated as OCC-Capital Division champion in the 400 while also winning the 200 and swept the district and regional meets in the 400 before placing third at state (program-record 47.16). He also was on the Indians' fourth-place 1,600 relay and seventh-place 800 relay at state.

"I'm sticking to sprint workouts but trying to keep my events open. I am trying to keep myself on my toes and be able to do whatever," said Martino, who also set the program mark in the 800 (1:56.17) and was on the record-setting 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relays last season. "Since my freshman year, I've said I'll run whatever you put me in and I'll do my best to score. I've always been a 400 guy, but come this (past) indoor season, I wanted to run the 200. I went a 22.04 in a meet at Youngstown State. I didn't run it as much as I wanted to outdoor."

In the indoor state meet March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Martino finished second in the 400 (48.61) behind Thomas Worthington's Justin Braun (46.77), eighth in the 200 (22.23) and helped the 800 relay to seventh place (1:31.8).

Martino hoped to run as fast as 46.2 in the 400 during outdoor season, a time he admitted might have been a stretch. However, the spring sports season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The state meet had been scheduled for Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6, at Ohio State.

"I'd have been surprised if I hit that (time), but that was my goal," Martino said. "I talk a lot about my goals and my coaches always tell me, 'Stop reaching, just go run.' If I get a 48, I'll go for a 47. If I hit 47, I'll try to go lower."

Martino is the fourth-ranked recruit in the 400 in the country, according to MileSplit.com, two spots better than last year. He has visited Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State and had a home visit with Florida in January.

Martino plans to commit within three weeks after his 18th birthday, which is Nov. 2.

"Recruitment has been hard on (coaches), too. It's hard on all of us," Martino said. "I see a lot of seniors who say they want to wait until it feels right and suddenly it's June. I want to commit before indoor (season). I want to get my five official visits lined up and see what home feels like, where I'll fit in and where I can affect the program."

With one season remaining, Robinson is fully aware of how Martino has affected the Indians, who finished 10th at the state meet last year and were hoping for more this season.

"The kid is such a good athlete that I wouldn't put anything past him," Robinson said. "Last year, he was a big-time leader. This year, we could almost turn things over to him and he could take care of business for us."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave