Wrestling in the right spot key for Mesa's Martinez
Wrestling at the right weight can make all the difference — just ask James Martinez.
The Colorado Mesa University sophomore is wrestling at his ideal weight this season after cutting weight to wrestle last season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable with my weight,” Martinez said.
He wrestled at 141 pounds last season so he could wrestle on the varsity, and it paid off. Martinez qualified for the NCAA Division II national championships.
However, the weight cutting caught up to him at nationals, where he went 0-2. Martinez redshirted in the 2010-11 school year.
This year, he is wrestling at his ideal weight of 149.
“Last year he cut to 41s, but it really wasn’t his desirable weight,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “It wasn’t a healthy cut for him. He’s much better at 49s. He’s much better just to be around.”
Martinez (12-1) has won 12 consecutive matches and leads the No. 9 Mavericks (17-1, 3-0 RMAC) against No. 11 Grand Canyon (12-4, 4-0 RMAC) for first place in the RMAC at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Brownson Arena. Rival Western State Colorado University (6-5, 1-1 RMAC) visits Brownson at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“(The Grand Canyon Antelopes) are like us,” Pipher said. “They have some pretty solid kids in some weights and they have some kids, their records speak for themselves. I think we’re pretty evenly matched. I think it will come down to bonus points. That’s what happened with UNC (last week).”
Tyler Miles will wrestle in place of Chester Granard at 165 pounds again this week. Granard remains out with an illness.
Miles won the final match against Northern Colorado to give the Mavs an 18-17 win last week.
Zak Slotten is questionable at 174, Pipher said, but Slotten participated in drills Tuesday. Mitch Wyatt would likely wrestle if Slotten is held out.
Martinez will be ready to go for a match that could determine the team winner and propel him into the national rankings.
He will likely wrestle Grand Canyon’s Bobby Ward (10-4), ranked eighth in the nation.
“It will be a big match and a good win if I can get a win,” Martinez said.
Early in the season, there was doubt he would wrestle.
Martinez lost his first match, but he bounced back to win the CMU Open 149-pound title.
One week later, he sprained his knee and was out six weeks, missing two tournaments and a handful of duals. He didn’t need surgery, but required rehabilitation.
Since returning three weeks ago, Martinez is 9-0.
“I have confidence with the coaches,” said Martinez of missing six weeks with the knee sprain. “They are behind you the whole way. They let you know you’re going to be fine. It’s a long season.
You can be at your peak for regionals and nationals,” Martinez said.
That’s when he is focused on being his best.
“I think nothing less than All-American,” Martinez said. “I’m expected to be an All-American. Everyone in this room expects that out of me. We have a tough team. Everyone expects everyone else to perform. I think it’s awesome.”
Pipher says Martinez has the tools to get the win and qualify for nationals again.
“He’s probably the most technically sound guy in all the positions — feet, bottom and top,” Pipher said. “It doesn’t mean he won’t get beat in one of those positions. He wrestles with an attitude. He wrestles hard. He’s a smart wrestler.
“He secures a match first. He’ll take them down and is patient with his pins.”
Six Colorado Mesa freshmen wrestlers placed in the Rocky Mountain Open on Saturday hosted by the Colorado School of Mines.
Jessie Hoffschneider (13-4) won his second open tournament, defeating Fort Hays State’s Nick Collins 6-4 in overtime in the 165-pound championship. Hoffschneider, a former Grand Junction High School state champion, had a pin and a decision on his way to the final.
Mac Borrego won the 125-pound title, defeating Luis Gurule of Mines 8-1 in the final.
Diego Pons (141), Nick Swanson (149), Cougar Babin (157), and Brendan Vinyard (197) all claimed third place in their respective weight classes.
All six freshmen wrestled unattached so they’ll be eligible to redshirt this season.