School: Clovis West
Weight class: 182
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Record: 48-1 (39 pins, 6 techs)
He’s qualified because: Captured second straight title and third state medal overall with 5-0 victory over Bakersfield’s Kyle Pope, capping season where Reyes won six other tournaments: Zinkin Classic, Doc Buchanan, Mission San Jose, Tri-River Athletic Conference, Yosemite Divisionals and Masters. The Illinois-bound Reyes, who won state at 171 pounds as a junior and placed third at 160 as a sophomore, went 180-13 in four-year career.
Weight class: 152
Record: 49-1 (40 pins)
He’s qualified because: Pinned all five opponents, including defending 145-pound champ Jake Elliott of Oakmont in 1:26 during the final, to win second straight state title and third medal overall. Also captured tournament titles at DeLiddo Classic, Doc Buchanan, Temecula Valley, CIT, West Yosemite League, Yosemite Divisionals and Masters. Champ at 140 pounds as a sophomore and third-place finisher at 125 as a freshman, Martinez has three-year record of 150-6.
The way Nikko Reyes describes it, he and Isaiah Martinez “weren’t anything to write home about” during their youth wrestling days.
Martinez tells the same tale, saying neither he nor Reyes had the national credentials of their contemporary — Selma’s Alex Cisneros — before entering high school.
“It took us both a long time to develop into our wrestling shoes,” Martinez said. “When we got into high school, we kicked it to another level and confidence worked in our favor. We started contending with those heavy hitters at the national level.”
Reyes, a senior, and Martinez, a junior, have certainly blossomed since entering Clovis West and Lemoore highs, respectively. And their considerable accomplishments this past season were virtually identical.
Each captured a second straight California Interscholastic Federation wrestling title and third state medal overall in March, doing so in more dominating fashion than all but one of the other 12 champions.
They both were undefeated against California competition — without surrendering an offensive point — and their only blemishes came against nationally ranked foes at out-of-state tournaments.
Because their seasons were so closely matched, Reyes (the state’s 182-pound champ) and Martinez (champion at 152) are The Bee’s Co-Wrestlers of the Year. They are the cream of the crop from a wrestling-rich area second-to-none in California that produced two other state champs — Clovis’ Daniel Gaytan (120) and Zach Nevills (170) — and three runner-ups — Cisneros (132) and Clovis’ Jonas Gaytan (113) and Dakota Gordon (195).
“It was about finding our styles,” Reyes said. “When we were younger, we’d see kids hit moves from everywhere, but we had to figure out what we were good at. And that’s what we did.”
After Reyes and Martinez earned their first state titles in 2011 — at 171 and 140 pounds, respectively — they came back with even greater expectations for 2012.
Simply winning wouldn’t be enough. They both wanted to dominate.
So Reyes proceeded to go 48-1 — his lone loss coming to nationally No. 3-ranked Brandon Griffith of Oregon at the Sierra Nevada Classic in Nevada — with 39 falls. He scored bonus points in 11 of his 13 postseason matches, capped by a 5-0 win over Bakersfield’s Kyle Pope in the state final.
“It’s like when you are talking about a fight, everyone talks about the first punch,” Reyes said. “I like to set the pace in the first second of the match. The mental edge I have over a lot of my opponents is very high.”
Martinez went 49-1 — his loss coming to No. 1-ranked Bo Jordan on his home turf of Ohio at the Walsh Ironman — with 40 falls. Then his postseason run featured bonus points in all 12 matches, including five falls at state, the last coming in 1:26 over defending 145-pound champ Jake Elliott of Oakmont in the final.
“My wrestling style is aggressive and in your face,” Martinez said. “You have to wrestle me for the entire 6 minutes. If you score on me, you have to earn it. I feel I have a universal style that translates to anyone I wrestle.”
Reyes and Martinez are admitted wrestling junkies who spend countless hours studying and practicing their sport in quest of perfecting what they do on the mat.
“He wanted to set a precedence of being dominant to show our younger kids to expect greatness,” Clovis West coach Ian Shaw said. “He expects so much of himself. He doesn’t like to lose, even when we would do sprints. He knew he was preparing for something bigger.”
The nationally No. 4-ranked Reyes is headed to Illinois on scholarship, while the second-ranked Martinez, who is being courted by the likes of Cornell, Oklahoma State and Illinois so far, will take aim at becoming the state’s 17th three-time champion next season.
“He loves the sport. He lives it, actually. That’s what makes him a phenomenal athlete,” Lemoore coach Marcio Botelho said. “He pins his way through the state meet and he was right back in the room on Monday wanting to get better and work on his weaknesses. Sometimes I’m like, ‘What are his weaknesses,’ because he did it in such dominant fashion.”