CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — Jake Martin walked into last year’s Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships on crutches after tearing his Achilles tendon earlier that season.
This year, he walked out with the team title, an individual title, and recognition as co-Big Ten men’s gymnast of the year.
Martin, a redshirt senior, helped Ohio State win its second consecutive team title, and he won high bar with a score of 14.375.
“Last year, we won the Big Ten championships, and I will always be proud of that,” said Martin, who shared publicly he is gay in January. “But it feels a little different when you’re actually on the floor, so to have all six of my routines go up and actually count for the team was really big.”
Ohio State’s 418.600 points finished ahead of runner-up Illinois with 416.400.
Martin said he and his teammates went ecstatic when Ohio State sophomore Alec Yoder’s pommel horse routine, the Buckeyes’ final score of the night, clinched the team title.
“They brought the trophy over to us,” Martin said. “When you see the trophy, when it’s in your hands after three hours of non-stop running back and forth, doing routines. That moment of actually seeing the trophy, that is the moment that just defines the weekend.”
The team competition took place Friday in addition to the all-around competition. Martin finished second in the all-around with 83.300 points behind teammate Sean Melton’s 85.050 points.
Friday also served as the qualifier for Saturday’s individual finals. Martin made individual finals in pommel horse and high bar. On Saturday, he finished eighth in pommel horse (13.752 points) and won the high bar.
Martin barely made finals in high bar after what he called “a big error” early in Friday’s routine. He ended up tied for the 10th and final spot in finals, and he advanced over the person he tied with based on a tiebreaker.
“It was probably one of the worst high bar routines I’ve ever done,” said Martin, who finished second on high bar at NCAA’s in 2014.
Because of his low score Friday, Martin went second during Saturday’s final. The final eight competitors knew his score to beat, and the second to last guy came closest with a score of 14.350.
“I always want everyone to do well, but everyone also wants to win,” Martin said. “It was pretty nerve racking watching all these people. When the last score finally flashed and was below mine, it was a sigh of relief.”
On Saturday in addition to receiving his medal for winning high bar, Martin received a trophy as the co-Big Ten men’s gymnast of the year. The honor was announced April 3. He shared the recognition with Minnesota’s Justin Karstadt.
Martin enjoyed taking home all the hardware this weekend, but the NCAA Championships are April 21 and 22. That’s where his focus is at for now.
“I’m still in the middle of it,” Martin said. “Right now, I don’t really get the chance to actually take in everything. I feel like once everything is over, I will be able to look back and say, ‘Wow, look at all this stuff that’s happened this year and look at where I’ve come from.’”
Jake Martin can be reached on Twitter @Jaghyke, Instagram @Jaghyke, or Facebook.
Erik Hall is a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Erik can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook.