Former Lemoore High wrestling star Isaiah Martinez will compete for his second straight NCAA Division I title Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The nationally top-ranked Martinez (31-1), wrestling for Illinois, will face Penn State’s No. 3 Jason Nolf (33-1) for the title at 157 pounds. Last year, Martinez became the first undefeated freshman champion since Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson in 1999 with his conquest at 157.
Nolf handed Martinez the only loss of his college career – by pin in 4:55 – during a Big Ten Conference dual with Penn State on Jan. 23. It stopped Martinez’s 54-match winning streak. Martinez gained revenge with a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Nolf in the Big Ten Tournament finals March 6.
If it’s the way I want it to be tomorrow, it’ll be entertaining and it’ll be a brawl.
Illinois and former Lemoore High wrestler Isaiah Martinez, on Saturday’s 157-pound final at the NCAA championships in New York
Martinez, a three-time CIF state champion while at Lemoore, is 66-1 in his college career.
“I’ve kind of figured it out,” Martinez said of facing Nolf. “If it’s the way I want it to be tomorrow, it’ll be entertaining and it’ll be a brawl.”
The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN starting at 5 p.m.
Martinez earned his spot in the final by defeating Virginia Tech’s No. 8 Nick Brascetta 6-3 in the quarterfinals and earning a 7-5 sudden victory over Kent State’s No. 4 Ian Miller in the semifinals.
Penn State, seeking its fifth national title in the past six years, has opened a big lead in the team race. The Nittany Lions built up 114 points Friday – well ahead of Oklahoma State (79.5) and Iowa (77.5).
Cal State Bakersfield’s Bryce Hammond, a former Bakersfield High standout, was eliminated from the 174-pound consolation bracket with a 15-4 loss to Iowa’s Alex Meyer.