CHARLESTON — Two months ago, Tina Martin couldn't predict she would be here.
She was battling nagging injuries and was in a walking boot for six or seven weeks thanks to a stress fracture in her left foot. In early March, she got the boot off, but still limped and hopped around.
Martin trained. She went to the Decatur Indoor Sports Complex daily to bike and constantly push herself.
On Saturday at the Class 2A girls state track and field finals in Charleston, her work all paid off. Martin won the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash for the Panthers.
It came one year after she finished second in the 400-meter dash.
“I said that someone was going to have to outright beat me, because I wasn’t going to beat myself," Martin said. "I think I was able to accomplish that and prove that today."
When Martin crossed the finish line of the 200, she kept her emotions in check. She executed, and did what she was supposed to do.
The end of the 100 was different, though. Martin was giddy and shaking. She found her sister, Katina, who finished fourth and came up clutching the back of her left leg.
The twins hugged on the track, grabbed hands and walked off the blue track for what would prove to be the final time. Katina scratched from the 200.
“I was really nervous for the 100 meter," Tina said. "I knew I had to dig down deep and execute. I had the third fastest time. Once that was out of my mind, I did what I was supposed to do.
“I knew the 200 I had the endurance, I had the skills to do well in it. I don’t think anyone was near my time in the field. I was more comfortable than I was in the 100 meter."
Tina didn't have long to bask in the victory. She and Katina had to hustle back to Decatur for Eisenhower's graduation, where Tina was the top overall academically in her class and Katina was second.
This year at state was polar opposite of last season. Last year Katina won the 100 and 200, and Tina had to pull out of the 200 due to an injury sustained in the 400.
On Saturday, Katina sat with her parents in the stands to watch Tina's dominance. Katina was nervous — she always is when she watches her sister.
Before Tina took the stage, Katina had a message.
“I said, ‘She’s come a long way.’ This was the easiest part and she was in prime position to take it. I’m so proud of seeing what she’s come through," Katina said.
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“What you should know about Tina is she is willing to fight. She really loves this sport. She’s willing to do everything in her power to win."
Tina is methodical. She's Harvard-bound, and breaks races down in a near-scientific fashion.
The 200 isn't a long race, Tina looked like a blur finishing it in 24.78 seconds, and she blew through the 100 in 11.80.
Though it doesn't take long for her to assert her presence and run the race, she looks at each race as a series of phases.
“I was always taught that track and field is not just running up and down," Tina said. "There’s methods and skills. When people run fast, there are reasons why they do that, how they execute and why they do things.
"Since I was taught that way it was easier. Having some talent and having some ability, it’s easier for me to say, ‘OK, for this phase of the race, I’m going to drive and do this. For this phase of the race, I’m going to drive and do that.’ If I can put those things together, most likely I’m going to win."
Tina isn't immune from getting nervous, but has the right mindset entering a race.
"When you go up to the line, peace settles over you," Tina said. "This is the time to execute. This is the time you need to do what you need to do. You can’t back down from it. You need to put yourself in that mind frame that you have to do it this way or you’re not going to do as well. You have to take everything out of your mind."
Tina's performance left her mother, and coach, Tracey Barnes at a loss for words.
She'd watched her daughter battle through injuries and long days and nights at the DISC to reach her pinnacle moment on Saturday.
“It’s really amazing," Barnes said.
There was a little bit of disappointment left in Katina. She, too, has battled injuries this season and only raced one meet before last week's Monticello Sectional.
Like her sister, she rehabbed and spent nights in the DISC and on the track pushing for Charleston, and pushing for a repeat as state champion in the 100 and 200.
But she can't hang her head too much. A Martin still sits as the best sprinter in Class 2A.
“I was disappointed because I always want to win and I always want to go out there and do my best," Katina said. "I’m so happy from where I’ve come from."
Two months ago Tina Martin was in a boot, fighting for a chance to run.
On Saturday, she's a valedictorian and a state champion.
"This is an encouraging and loving day for me," Tina said.
Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25