JEFFERSON CITY – At about the midpoint of the track and field season, School of the Ozarks sophomore Gideon Martin was going through some frustrating times.
He had high expectations coming into the season, and showed signs of growth in the early weeks of practice and the first meet or so.
Then came a dry spell, where he showed little improvement in the long jump and triple jump.
Consider that problem long in the past.
Martin got on the medal stand in both events at the Class 1 state track and field meet on Saturday, with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump to go with a seventh-place showing in the long jump.
“These last couple of days, it all came together,” Martin said. “I give all the glory to God, he’s helped me to glorify him by working hard and coming out here to perform with the cross on my back.
“I jumped really well yesterday and today.”
Martin not only saved his best for last during his sophomore season with the Patriots, he saved his best for last at the state meet, with dramatic results.
His distance of 41 feet in the triple jump came in his last attempt, improving from his next-best jump of 40 feet, 1 inch, that would have left him in 11th place.
In the long jump, his final jump resulted in a school-record distance of 19 feet, 10.5 inches. That was good for seventh place overall. Without that final jump, he would have checked in at ninth place, at 19 feet, 7 inches.
Not only did Martin claim a pair of state medals in only his sophomore season, but he gets a nice dose of motivation moving forward in his high school career.
The individual who finished third in the long jump and first in the triple jump – Cameron Jones of Pattonsburg – is another sophomore who figures to be a rival for Martin in the next two years.
“I was thinking I hadn’t gotten better from last year, but it really showed today,” Martin said.
“I have to compete against that. I need to keep working and fighting to get higher places.”
Martin also ran a leg on the Patriots’ 4x800 relay team. The foursome of Nathan Lingner, Martin, Nickolas Anderson and Jack Carswell finished eighth, in a time of 3:42.89.
S of O freshman Titus Thompson was the runner-up in the 1,600 meters, finishing in a time of 4:31.32, behind only Chadwick standout Evan Smith.
Thompson outpaced third-place finisher Donovan Denslow of Clopton, crossing the line only .62 seconds ahead of him.
The Patriots finished with 15 team points, good for 21st in the team standings.
SMITH LEADS S OF O GIRLS
Junior Victoria Smith placed in two events at the Class 1 girls’ state meet, finishing sixth in the 200 meters and seventh in the 100 meters.
It was a move forward for Smith, who qualified for state in the 100 meters as a sophomore but didn’t make it out of the preliminaries.
This time around, Smith extended her stay at the state meet.
In the 200 meters, Smith posted the seventh-best time in the prelims, with a 26.59-second showing. She improved on that placing in the finals, taking sixth with a time of 26.68 seconds, just .01 of a second ahead of seventh place.
In the 100 meters, Smith put up the fifth-fastest time in the prelims, at 12.94 seconds. She finished seventh in the finals, finishing in 12.90 seconds.
In the 200, three of the individuals who finished ahead of Smith are seniors, with four seniors ahead of her in the 100-meter finals.
Smith said the experience at state this time around carried a lot less pressure with it than her first time around.
“As a junior, I feel like it’s really changed my perspective a lot, from coming in my first year,” Smith said. “It seems less overwhelming, because I know where I need to be, and no superhuman effort is expected – I just need to run my best.”
The experience of making the finals in two events only figures to give Smith more motivation as she moves into her final year of high school.
“All summer long, I’m just looking forward to the season,” Smith said. “Even in school, I’m thinking about how we’re ‘this many’ days closer.