Martin’s pair of 1A state titles leads Mustangs to team trophy (2024)

CHARLESTON — Dominic Martin went into Saturday’s Class 1A state finals as the favorite in three of his four events, and he was still projected to finish top five in the other.

He didn’t need any extra motivation, but he got it at the conclusion of the long jump. Martin and Westmont’s Abraham Johnson tied for the best mark at 22 feet, 2 ½ inches, but Johnson won based on comparing their previous jumps.

“I felt like I did almost as best as I could do,” Martin said. “My PR is a couple centimeters more than that, so I can’t get much better.”

The Ridgeview/Lexington senior said he “definitely” used that as fuel to propel him into his next two races, where he won state titles in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles with respective times of 14.41 and 38.87 seconds.

“A centimeter away from three,” Ridgeview/Lexington coach Mike Benton said of Martin’s wins. “I was a 110 hurdler, and I’ve now had two state champion hurdlers. It just makes me very proud.”

Martin was not expecting this kind of performance out of himself , and it stems back to last year, when he was sidelined for the majority of the season after a freak injury. He was practicing a relay handoff with a teammate when another kid stepped in front of him. In trying to avoid contact, Martin pulled something in his hip. He returned just in time to place sixth at state in the triple jump and seventh on the 400-meter relay.

So, when he crossed the line first in the 110 hurdles on Saturday, he still had to take a moment to make sure it was real.

“I was first of all questioning if I was the one who got it,” Martin said. “I was just happy that I made it here and was able to win. It’s what I was hoping for all season and the last few years. To be able to make it happen was amazing.”

Benton, however, saw this coming from the start.

“When he was a freshman, we saw the talent,” Benton said. “He doesn’t like to lose, and he’s a very competitive kid. Things came pretty easy for him. He could pick up new events and liked to try everything. When he was a freshman, he was a very good hurdler, so we knew he had something special there.”

After Martin got a taste of the state stage as a junior, Benton said, he “really took off,” leading him to sign with Southern Illinois University. Benton believes Martin could even become a decathlete if he learns how to pole vault.

“I think he knows he’s got talent, but he’s a humble kid, and I like that about him,” Benton said. “I like the fact that he’s not co*cky. I think he’s just very versatile and is going to be really good in a lot of things. He’s certainly got all the physical attributes.”

Martin showed the impact he has on the Mustangs in a meet at St. Teresa, where Benton decided to test something with his relays.

“I loaded him into the relays just to see what our relays could do, and we were impressive,” Benton said with a laugh. “It was fun to watch. I knew going into sectionals and state that we couldn’t do that because he’s capable of scoring so many points himself, but it was fun that night.”

Benton’s belief in him has boosted Martin’s confidence. Not to the point of arrogance — he was visibly uncomfortable while trying to brag about himself on Saturday — but to where he’s more understanding of where he stands compared to the rest of his competitors.

“I felt like I had to live up to my own expectations and just don’t ruin it,” Martin said. “I just try not to lose. That’s been my main mindset: If I’m going to do it, I might as well win. I just do the best I can.”

By the end of Saturday’s finals, Martin had earned four medals: gold in both hurdles, silver in long jump and fourth place in the 200. His performance launched Ridgeview/Lexington into a third-place finish in 1A.

A smirk came to his face when he heard he was a two-time state champion.

“Yeah,” Martin said. “It’s pretty impactful.”

Zach Piatt is a prep sports reporter at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at

Martin’s pair of 1A state titles leads Mustangs to team trophy (2024)
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