By Steve Williams

Julia Martin said she just wanted to get on the podium at this year’s TSSAA state pentathlon.

Competing for First Baptist Academy of Powell, one of the newest TSSAA members in the state, she had finished in 11th place last spring as a junior when Division II (private schools) had only one classification in the pentathlon.

“I’m hoping to make it on the podium as top eight in the state,” Martin told me at this year’s KIL track meet, a little out of breath after racing in the 300 hurdles. “So I’m hoping just to get on that special platform.”

I’m sure that’s been a goal of many athletes, but in all my years of covering high school sports, I don’t remember hearing that – to make the top eight “to just get on that special platform.”

It was refreshing to hear Julia say it.

Some of us in the media are blessed to see a lot of winning performances. We seek out the champions to get a quote. Seldom do we interview the eighth place finisher or the athlete that gets the last spot on that special platform.

Thank you Julia for making us stop and think. And you’re so right.

Actually, just qualifying for the state meet is special.

I still remember when my daughter, Tabatha, competed in track at West High. In her senior year, 1996, her relay team earned a berth in the state meet, which was held in Chattanooga that year. I was so proud of her and her teammates and I went to watch them run at the state. I remember how much work they had put in to just get there.

As for Julia Martin, I’m happy to report she made it on the podium in the Division II-A state pentathlon Thursday at Franklin Road Academy. She totaled 2,571 points to take third place.

Harding Academy’s Jamisen Cobb took first place with 2,745 points and McKinley Blackburn of Christian Academy of Knoxville was second with 2,575.

“I feel like I’ve hit the bell at the top of a climbing rope,” said Martin after competing in her third state pentathlon.

“Each year my coach (Brad Neal) and I talk about my potential for the upcoming season. I am abundantly grateful to say that I have accomplished the goals that we had set and attacked the hurdles put in front of me.

“There are no words to describe the feeling of a new personal record. Being able to reach new heights and see the results of hard work is a true blessing.”

Martin took first place in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.32 seconds. She also was fourth in the 800 run (2:34.72), tied for fourth in the shot put, tied for sixth in the high jump and was seventh in the long jump.

Martin will also be competing in Spring Fling XXV this week in Murfreesboro in the Division II-A state track meet (100-meter high hurdles and 300 low hurdles) at MTSU. She placed fifth in the 300 hurdles at the state last year.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the athletes who make it to Spring Fling!