Isaiah Martinez named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | March 07, 2018, 1:35 p.m. (ET)
Photo: Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in action at the Big Ten Championships held in East Lansing, Michigan (Richard Immel/USA Wrestling).

Isaiah Martinez (Lemoore, California/University of Illinois) has been selected as Athlete of the Week on March 7, 2018.

The Illinois senior captured his fourth Big Ten Conference championship with a wildly entertaining run at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan, last weekend. Martinez won three matches over top-ten opponents on his way to the 165-pound title.

Entering as the No. 1 seed in perhaps the deepest conference championship bracket across all of Division I, Martinez was magnificent. He started his championship run with a 7-4 win over No. 8 seed Isaiah White of Nebraska. In the semifinals, Martinez scrapped back-and-forth with U23 World champion and No. 4 seed Richie Lewis of Rutgers, winning 8-5.

The NCAA finals rematch nearly one year in the making between Martinez and Penn State's Vincenzo Joseph took place on the Big Ten's brightest stage. The match was controlled throughout by Martinez, who iced things with a late third-period takedown to win, 4-1. This was the duo's first meeting since Joseph stunned Martinez in the NCAA finals last March.

In addition to reestablishing himself as the man to beat at 165 pounds moving forward, Martinez became just the 16th individual to win four Big Ten championships. He is the first to reach this milestone while being coached by a fellow four-timer. Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan won his fourth Big Ten title in 1987 as an Iowa Hawkeye.

Heading into the NCAA Championships next week set for Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, Martinez is in search of his fourth NCAA finals berth and third NCAA title. He won the NCAA's at 157 pounds in 2015 and 2016, prior to finishing in second place last year at 165 pounds. He has a chance to become the first three-time NCAA champion for Illinois.

Martinez currently holds a 14-0 record on the season with eight technical falls, one pin and one major decision to his credit. His career record sits at 109-2 with his only two losses coming by fall at the hands of NCAA champions from Penn State, Jason Nolf and Joseph.

Martinez was a member of the 2017 U.S. U23 World Team that competed for world supremacy in Bydgoszcz, Poland, last November. He earned a fifth-place finish at 74 kg/163 lbs. Martinez also took fourth place at the 2017 U.S. World Team Trials at 74 kg.

Each week USA Wrestling will select an Athlete of the Week based upon performance within wrestling for that week. The selection committee will consider any level of wrestling from youth programs through the senior level.

To nominate a wrestler for this honor please send the athlete's name, wrestling program, weekly accomplishments and career accolades to USA Wrestling Manager of Communications Richard Immel at