By John Philip Wyllie
A year ago as a sophomore, Hilltop High’s Javier Martinez wrestled his way to a CIF championship at 145 pounds and nearly qualified for a coveted berth in the California state competition. This year he hopes his hard work and dedication will gain him entrance into that elite tournament.
“Javier is by far the best overall wrestler on this team,” said first year coach Thomas Juarez. “Our kids look to him for inspiration. They see that the way he wrestles in practice is the way that he performs in his matches. Javier knows that how he trains will determine how well he’ll do in those tournaments.”
Once again this year, he has done very well. With a record of 23-4, Martinez has taken first place in two tournaments and second place in two or three others. In addition to being the top wrestler on his team, Martinez is also the most experienced.
“My older brother was a wrestler and I wanted to be just like him, so I started when I was about eight. During wrestling season I do nothing but wrestle (he also represents the Lancers in football and lacrosse in the fall and spring). The fact that he therefore never falls out of shape, no doubt contributes to his success on the mats. While Martinez enjoys playing football and lacrosse, he loves wrestling. He believes that wrestling is where his future lies.
“I’ll have to continue doing well this year and then next year, but I am planning on getting a scholarship. I also have a 3.8 (G.P.A) so I think I’ll have a shot at one,” Martinez said.
To him, wrestling is lot more than a sport it is more like a way of life. Wrestling has taught him many valuable lessons.
“Wresting teaches you a lot. I have learned how to be a leader and how to take criticism.” He has even learned from his occasional losses. “When you are losing you have to learn how to be a good sport about it. Wrestling teaches you to keep on yourself and on your teammates. It teaches you many things that you need for real life.”
The lessons come at a cost, however. Wrestling requires endurance gained from running torturous hills and spending countless hours in the weight room straining against the iron when your muscles are screaming for you to surrender. Wrestling builds character and it is obvious that Martinez has plenty of that. His dedication has lifted the people around him. One of the biggest beneficiaries is his wrestling partner, Andy Gallata.
“Last year Andy was a J.V. wrestler, wrestling varsity. His record was 15-25. This year he has done a complete 180,” Juarez said. “Now he is wrestling really solid, working out with Javier and so far this season his record is 20-4. He is up and coming and ranks in the top six of his 135 weight class for San Diego County. Like I said, Javier really improves the people around him, especially his work-out partner. Andy has improved tremendously. Next year if they both continue to do well, we could have two CIF champs that could qualify for state.”