The West Coast’s top collegiate wrestling programs all came calling, but – thanks in an option that didn’t exist a year ago – Brandon Martino decided to stay home.
The Clovis High senior signed a Nation Letter of Intent on Wednesday with Fresno State, which is relaunching its program in 2017-18 under coach Troy Steiner and assistants Jason Chamberlain and Isreal Silva.
“I’m really grateful that the program is back, and the people involved are going to do a great job getting the team where it needs to be, and that’s competing for national titles every year,” Martino said. “I’m very excited.”
Martino was one of three Clovis wrestlers (Justin Mejia to Illinois and Wyatt Cornelison to Pennsylvania,) eight Cougars overall (highlighted by Under Armour first-team volleyball All American Taylen Ballard to BYU) and 43 from the district to officially commit on National Signing Day.
But despite interest from the likes of Oregon State, Utah Valley, Boise State, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Poly and Cal Baptist, Martino passed on the opportunity to compete for an established program to compete for the Bulldogs.
I’m really grateful that the program is back, and the people involved are going to do a great job getting the team where it needs to be, and that’s competing for national titles every year.
Clovis High wrestler Brandon Martino
“He’s been one of the guys who’s wanted it to come back to Fresno State, and I think he will be a contributor there,” Clovis coach Steve Tirapelle said. “He will bring some notoriety there in a few years.”
Martino joins a growing list of local wrestlers who are headed to or have joined Fresno State.
Dinuba’s Jacob Wright, Lemoore’s Gary Joint, Selma’s Robert Garcia and Bakersfield’s J.J. Figueroa all signed with the Bulldogs on Wednesday, while former area standouts Isaiah Hokit (Clovis), Josh Hokit (Clovis), Khristian Olivas (Clovis), Chris Garcia (Clovis West), Sean Williams (Lemoore) and Richie Ybarra-Brandt (Liberty-Madera Ranchos) have returned home from other colleges to compete for Fresno State.
“I think it’s great, pulling out of the Valley area and California in general,” Martino said. “We’ve all competed against each other all these years, and now it will be great competing with each other.”
Martino is a two-time CIF State Championships qualifier. He went 2-2 and did not medal at 132 pounds to help the Cougars win the state title in 2015, then placed fifth at 152 last season as Clovis finished second as a team.