Isaiah Martinez Drops Title Match, Finishes Career as Two-Time Champion

NCAA Championships Coverage

Martinez concludes career with highest win-percentage in program history

By University of Illinois Athletics

CLEVELAND, OH – Illinois redshirt senior Isaiah Martinez concluded his career on Saturday night at NCAA Championships with a runner-up finish to Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph. Martinez concludes his career in the Orange and Blue with two national titles, four Big Ten titles and All-America honors and with the highest win-percentage (.975) in school history.

“Having Isaiah’s career end this way really leaves a sour taste in my mouth,” said head coach Jim Heffernan. He’s meant so much to this program and has been a tremendous representative of our University. He’s brought a lot of firsts to the program – four-time Big 10 champ, four-time all American, four- time NCAA finalists and, most importantly, genuinely a very good person.”

As a team, the Fighting Illini placed tied for 13th at the 2018 NCAA Championships with two All-Americans. Joining Martinez’s 165-pound runner-up finish, redshirt junior Emery Parker placed third behind a seven-match winning streak in wrestlebacks to give head coach Jim Heffernan a fourth straight season, and seven of the last eight, with multiple All-Americans. Final final team scores and brackets here.

Just the 16th NCAA wrestler to reach four NCAA finals, Martinez fell behind 4-0 in the first period behind a takedown and two-point near fall by Joseph. Joseph received a penalty point and escape point, while Martinez’s lone point came on an escape to start period two.

Martinez concludes his career as only the fourth Illini win two NCAA titles, joining Joe Sapora (1929, 1930), Bob Norman (1957, 1958) and Jesse Delgado (2012, 2013).

Martinez concludes his career with 116 wins, tied for ninth with former Illini Brian Glynn (2002-05).

Ariving at Illinois after three California state titles at Lemoore High School, Martinez won a title in each of his first two seasons at Illinois while wrestling at 157 pounds.

In 2015, Martinez completed the first undefeated freshman season, going 35-0, in NCAA Division I since Cael Sanderson in 1999 with a win a major decision against Brian Realbuto of Cornell in the final. Following the season, Martinez was named the 2015 ig Ten, InterMat, and Amatuer Wrestling News Freshman of the Year.

After the 54-match winning streak to begin his career was snapped by Jason Nolf on January 23, 2016, Martinez bounced back to beat Nolf twice more, once at Big Ten Championships and again in the NCAA final at Madison Square Garden, to become the fourth Illini to win two NCAA titles.

Moving up to 165 pounds prior to the 2016-17 season, Martinez again went undefeated (31-0) through the NCAA semifinal, winning his third Big Ten title along the way. At NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Martinez earned his third All-America, but dropped the title bout to Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph.

A two-time University of Illinois Dike Eddleman Award winner, Martinez also won two Midlands titles (2014, 2016) and was named the USA Wrestler of the Week earlier this month after becoming the 16th four-time Big Ten Champion. Internationally, Martinez won a University Nationals 74kg title and placed fifth at U-23 World Championships as a member of Team USA last November.

Earlier today, redshirt junior Emery Parker completed a seven-match comeback in wrestlebacks after dropping his opening round match to place third at 184 pounds. Leading the Illini in wins this season (28), Parker earned his first career All-America honor.

For complete coverage of Fighting Illini wrestling, go to and follow @IlliniWrestling on Twitter and Instagram.

Illini NCAA Championships Notes

Isaiah Martinez became the 16th four-time NCAA finalist on Friday night with a 5-2 victory against Iowa’s Alex Marinelli. Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder became the 17th to accomplish the feat later in the evening.
Martinez is Illinois’ first four-time All-American, defeating No. 9 Seed Chance Marsteller by major decision in the quarterfinals, 10-1.
Martinez finishes his career with a 18-2 all-time at NCAA Championships with eight wins with bonus points, including three tech falls
Martinez concludes his career with 116 career victories, tied for ninth on Illinois’ all-time list with former Illini Brian Glynn (2002-05).
Emery Parker placed third at 184 pounds, winning seven straight matches after dropping his opening match of the tournament.
With Parker’s All-America honor, the Illini have multiple All-Americans for the fourth straight season, and seven of the last eight.
Parker is Illinois’ first All-American at 184 pounds since John Dergo took 5th in 2010, and is tied for the highest finish at 184 pounds by an Illini with Brian Glynn (2005) and Pete Friedl (2006)

Isaiah Martinez Career Highlights

Two-time NCAA Champion
Four-time All-American
Four-time Big Ten Champion (16th to win four B1G titles)
University Nationals 74kg Champion & World Championships Qualifier
2016-17 Dike Eddleman Male Athlete of the Year
Holds the Illinois career win percentage record (.975)
2015 Big Ten, InterMat, and Amatuer Wrestling News Freshman of the Year
Won 54 consecutive matches from 11/9/14 to 1/23/16
Two-time Midlands champion (2014 & 2016)
Tied for 9th on Illinois’ All-Time Wins List (116)
Two-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Championships (2016, 2018)
USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week (3/7/18)
Recorded first undefeated freshman season in NCAA history since Cael Sanderson (1999)

Illinois Match-By-Match Results

125 // Travis Piotrowski // 2-2
1st Round: (6) #7 Nicholas Piccininni (Oklahoma State) def. Piotrowski by fall, 1:47
Cons. Round 1: Piotrowski def. Gage Curry (American), 9-1
Cons. Round 2: Piotrowski def. (5) #5 Sean Fausz (NC State), 8-1
Cons. Round 3: (13) #11 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) def. Piotrowski, 5-0
Travis Piotrowski is eliminated

133 // #19 Dylan Duncan // 0-2
1st Round: (4) #4 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) def. Duncan, 7-4
Cons. Round 1: Colin Valdiviez (Northwestern) def. Duncan, 7-5
Dylan Duncan is eliminated

141 // (11) #7 Mike Carr // 3-1
1st Round: (11) Carr def. Henry Pohlmeyer (South Dakota State), 8-1
2nd Round: (6) #5 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) def. (11) Carr, 6-2
Cons. Round 2: (11) Carr def. Brent Moore (Virginia Tech), 8-5
Cons. Round 3: (11) Carr def. (14) #19 Nicholas Gil (Navy), 5-4
Cons. Round 4: Sa’Derian Perry (Eastern Michigan) def. (11) Carr, 8-6
Mike Carr is eliminated

165 // (1) #1 Isaiah Martinez // 4-1
1st Round: (1) Martinez def. Zachary Carson (Eastern Michigan) by tech fall, 20-5
2nd Round: (1) Martinez def. (16) #17 Jonathan Chavez (Cornell), 10-5
Quarterfinals: (1) Martinez def. (9) #5 Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven), 10-1
Semifinals: vs. (1) Martinez def. (5) #7 Alex Marinelli (Iowa), 5-2
Finals: vs. (3) #3 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) def. Martinez, 6-1
Isaiah Martinez places 2nd

184 // (10) #8 Emery Parker // 6-1
1st Round: #18 Chip Ness (North Carolina) def. (10 #8 Parker, 4-3
Cons. Round 1: (10) #8 Parker def. Chaz Polson (Wyoming), 17-3
Cons. Round 2: (1) #8 Parker def. (8) #10 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa), 13-10
Cons. Round 3: (10) Parker def. (16) #17 Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan), 17-6
Cons. Round 4: (10) Parker def. (3) #3 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh), 3-1
Cons. Round 5: (10) Parker def. #18 Chip Ness (North Carolina), 7-5
Cons. Semifinal: (10) Parker def. (5) #4 Domenic Abounader (Michigan), 6-5
3rdPlace Match: (7) #7 Taylor Venz (Nebraska)

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Written by Mike Bare

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