Fourth-year athlete Tyler Martin doesn’t look like your typical high jumper when going over the bar. He’s a couple inches shorter than much of his competition at large meets, and his form over the bar can only be described as “unorthodox”.
Despite that, Martin has experienced plenty of success in the event, culminating in a personal best jump of 2.02 meters last week at the University of New Hampshire, a height that qualifies him for the IC4A championship meet in May.
Martin never would have predicted his success in track when he first started ten years ago. His career began rather innocuously, and he viewed track as more of something to fill time.
“I started track because I hated standing around in baseball and didn’t understand lacrosse,” Martin said.
The first event he tried when switching to track was high jump, and it’s something he’s stuck with ever since.
“I really just liked the idea of seeing how high I could jump,” Martin said.
Martin spent his first two years on the track team focusing solely on high jump and trying to hone his technique in the event. Yet, despite his love for high jump, he found himself missing the running events that he competed in throughout high school. Starting last year, he made a concerted effort to do some sprint training in addition to his jumping in an attempt to gain a spot on one of the team’s relays.
His hard work paid off when he was picked to run one of the 200-meter legs on the sprint medley relay at the Penn Relays. The team subsequently broke the school record in the event, boosted by a strong leg from Martin.
Not only will Martin be assuming one of the 200-meter legs in the sprint medley again this year, but he’s also transitioned to holding down the important anchor leg on the 4×400 relay team and is also running in the 4×100 relay.
Martin sees a clear distinction between his preparation for high jump versus the running events he participates in.
“For races I just try to get fired up and ready to compete,” Martin said. “For high jump I treat every jump as an opportunity to do something special. Because there’s no set time limit or predetermined number of jumps, it’s crucial that I stay focused and collected because the higher the bar goes up the more dialed in I need to be.”
Martin was dialed in last weekend, soaring over the IC4A qualifying height on his first attempt. It’s the first time Martin has qualified for IC4A’s in the high jump, and he ranks it as his favorite track moment to date.
“I was having a great day making every height on my first attempt, and I was fortunate enough to have some close friends, family, and old coaches there watching,” Martin said. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Sprints and jumps Coach Chris Flynn was away at another meet and missed the jump, but it was something he knew would happen.
“Tyler’s had plenty of attempts at 2.02 [meters] and 2.03 [meters] where he just missed it by a hair, it was only a matter of time before he’d get it,” Flynn said. “It was just about putting it together for one attempt and getting over it. Now he’s got that weight off his shoulders.”
Even with competing in the running events, high jump remains Martin’s main focus and his favorite event.
“I really like the idea of immediate, tangible success,” Martin said. “You know right after you jump if you’ve made the height or not, and that makes it really fun to get competitive with myself.”
Martin has experienced more made heights than not lately, a trend he hopes to continue through the end of the season and hopefully qualify for NCAA Regionals.
“I’m a few heights away from making regionals, but that’s my end goal,” Martin said. “It’ll take a big jump, but with Coach Flynn and [high jumper] Asaad Hicks pushing me I know I can keep going.”