When it comes to track and field there is literally nothing that Bacon Academy’s Jake Martino can’t do.
Martino, who specializes in throwing events, finished 8th out of 50 of Connecticut’s best high school athletes in the decathlon at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on June 15.
The decathlon is a grueling 10-event challenge, featuring the 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter run, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meter run.
It was the second straight year that Martino competed in the decathlon, finishing 7th as a sophomore last spring. He improved his overall score by nearly 300 points this spring, scoring 5253 points opposed to 4961 a season ago.
Martino said he prefers the decathlon to individual events because it encompasses everything that track and field has to offer, adding, “I enjoy seeing how I can get better. Last year was my first time doing it and I love to see my improvement from last year until this year.”
He set personal-best marks in five of the ten events and placed top-six in three events, taking 2nd place in the discus and 6th in both the shot put and the 100 meters. He also shaved 10 seconds off his time in the 1500 meters from a season ago.
June was a particularly busy month for Martino, who competed in three local championships, a regional championship, and a pair of national events.
During the Class MM finals on June 2, he won the discus championship. Despite battling windy and rainy conditions, Martino managed to top runner-up Matthew Smith of Lewis Mills by 14 feet.
Martino described the throwing title as “a crazy relief”, adding, “I didn’t expect that to happen until my senior year. I was really happy to see that I was able to throw good enough in the rain to win. It was great.”
Martino had previously broken the school record in the discus during a regular season meet, topping the previous mark of 149 feet by three feet.
He also excelled in the javelin, throwing a personal-best 153’10” at the Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) Division championship on May 23.
Immediately following the decathlon, Martino hopped in his car and drove south to compete at both the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals at the University of Pennsylvania and the Adidas Nationals at the University of North Carolina. The events officially ended his junior season at Bacon.
Martino’s dedication to his craft is second to none. He began learning to throw the discus, javelin, and shot put with his neighbor Peter Walsh, who graduated this year.
The two would practice a variety of throws in the backyards of their family homes before joining the track and field team in middle school.
Fitness became a passion as early as the third grade for Martino, who said, “I wanted to be No. 1 in all the fitness tests in elementary school.”
He had a pull-up bar in his room and would do body weight exercise, like push-ups, to train.
Once in high school, Martino took his training to the next level and began to study YouTube videos on how to properly execute each throw, slowing down the videos so he could master the technique and body movements.
His freshman outdoor track and field season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Martino used that time to get bigger, stronger, and more explosive by working out at his home gym in his basement. He began to refine his body, focusing on his core and training his fast-twitch muscles.
The film study combined with his tireless work on the track and in the weight room transformed him into a champion thrower by his junior season.
“In my opinion it’s second to the most important thing beside technique,” Martino said of his time in the weight room. “If you can learn to work out and push yourself in the gym as hard as you push yourself on the field you’ll see a difference. There is a complete difference between an athlete that works out and an athlete that doesn't, no matter what sport it is.”
This summer he will continue to compete, unaffiliated to the school, at local and regional events.
He said he will lean towards “decathlon-focused” training in the offseason and has set some lofty goals next season.
“Personally I would love to break a few more school records,” said Martino, who is eying the 100 meter dash record and the javelin mark. He also said he wants to further his discus record, hoping to surpass 165 feet.
He added that his ultimate goal is to go Nationals for the decathlon and eyes a top-five finish.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin