April 3, 2017
Columbus, Ohio – For the first time in Big Ten history, the title of the best gymnast in the conference has been awarded to two athletes. Ohio State fifth-year senior Jake Martin and Justin Karstadt of Minnesota have been named the Co-Big Ten Gymnasts of the Year, an award that is voted on by head coaches throughout the league.
“I’m very, very proud of Jake and what he has accomplished in his time here at Ohio State, and I couldn’t think of anyone else who is more deserving of this honor,” head gymnastics coach Rustam Sharipov said.
Martin has been through a number of challenges during his time in Columbus, including two season ending injuries, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a team leader. Martin was named a team captain in September and has excelled in the role ever since.
“Jake has faced a tremendous amount of adversity with some of his injuries, but that hasn’t stopped him from competing at a high level,” Sharipov mentioned. “He has been a great leader for us outside of the gym as well. He has been a great example for our younger guys to follow.”
The Oviedo, Fla., native has won eight event titles in 2017. Four of those have come in the all-around in which he owns the sixth-best four-score average in the nation with an 83.017. He has won three high bar event titles this season, and he ranks fourth in the event in the NCAA with a four-score average of 14.633. His lone other event title came at the home opener against UIC on the rings where he scored a season best 14.050.
Martin not only excels in the gym, but also in the classroom. Just last week, Martin was named one of five male Big Ten Medal of Honor nominees from Ohio State. The all-arounder will be graduating in May with dual degrees (international studies and political science) and he is a five-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, four-time Academic-All Big Ten selection and a 2015 Collegiate Gymnastics Association All-America Scholar-Athlete.
Martin was selected to the 2014 All-Big Ten First Team in addition to winning an individual title on the vault. Later on in 2014 at the NCAA Championships, Martin earned All-America honors in the all-around and vault. In 2017, Martin has been named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week twice bringing his career total to four.
Martin becomes the seventh athlete in program history to earn the title: Sean Melton (2016), Randy Monahan (2003-04), Raj Bhavsar (2002), Jamie Natalie (2001), Blaine Wilson (1995, 96, 97) and Drew Durbin (1994) are the other six winners.
In addition to being named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Year, Martin is also a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award. In order for an athlete to be considered for the award, one must excel in gymnastics, display good sportsmanship and maintain a high standard of scholarship throughout their career.
The third-ranked Ohio State men’s gymnastics team will head to Champaign, Ill., this Friday and Saturday (April 7-8) for the Big Ten Championships with hopes of retaining its team title from 2016.