Identify Illinois Spotlight

Identify Illinois is the DIA-branch of Inclusive Illinois, an organization dedicated to the University's commitment to cultivating a community at Illinois where everyone is welcomed, celebrated, and respected. Through education, engagement, and excellence, each voice creates the Inclusive Illinois Experience.

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Isaiah Martinez

Year: Redshirt Freshman

Hometown: Lemoore, California

 Attended Lemoore High School
 Hobbies include outdoors, swimming, and reading
 Majoring in Health Care Administration
 Three-time California state champion at three different weight classes (142, 152, 160)
 Currently ranked No. 2 in nation at 157 lbs.


Q: You currently are ranked No. 2 in the country for your weight class. Did you expect to experience this much success this early in your collegiate career?

When I was getting recruited by our coaches, I always made it clear that I wanted to become a national champion as a freshman. I continued believed that I had the capacity to find success this early. Things really changed for me mentally during this last summer, it was almost like a switch flipped in my brain. From that point on I no longer hoped or just wanted to be this successful. It was almost like I knew this was going to happen, because all of the hard work I put in.

Q: You grew up in California. What were your reasons for choosing Illinois?

I had a few reason to choose Illinois instead of staying home in California. First, my coaches did an excellent job of recruiting me. I found something unique about our staff; their blend of coaching styles appealed to me. Second, Illinois is part of the most competitive and prestigious wrestling conference in the country. I always wanted to be a B1G athlete. Lastly, I felt like I fitted in here nicely when I visited campus. The dynamics of the team made it seem like I could transition at Illinois well

Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

I have three siblings. I have one twin brother, an older brother and a younger sister.

Q: What is the best part about being an Illini wrestler?

I think the best part of being an Illini wrestler is being able to represent our school in front of the whole country. I don't think there is a better feeling than when I get to strap up my Illinois singlet and walk out on the Huff Hall floor to put on a show for all the fans. Having the opportunity to do things like has been a dream come true. I've wanted to do that since I was four years old.

Q: Who was your wrestling idol growing up and why?

Growing up, I really idolized Brent Metcalf. He was a former Iowa Hawkeye wrestler who won two NCAA national titles. I liked watching him because of the way he competed. He would always attack and put pressure. It was astounding how he could make his opponents wilt as the matches progressed.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of this wrestling season?

My goal for the rest of the season is to ascend to the number one wrestler in the country at my weight class. I want to defeat the rest of my opponents and become Illinois' first freshman NCAA National Champion.

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