By John Philip Wyllie
The wrestling season has ended for nearly all of the hundreds of wrestlers attending the many high schools scattered throughout the South Bay. Only two will travel to Bakersfield this weekend to engage in the state level competition that awaits them. Hilltop High’s Javier Martinez (140 lbs.) is one of the few of that highly elite group that will be making his second appearance.
“If you qualify for state competition it puts you in the top 30 in your weight class in California. Most wrestlers battle their whole careers and never get that far. Javier has done it twice,” said his proud coach, Thomas Juarez.
Martinez, the Lancers captain, has a long list of accomplishments. He is a four-time varsity letterman, a four-time South Bay League champion, a three-time CIF champion and now a two-time state qualifier. He is also a solid student with a seemingly bright college career ahead of him. He hopes to cap his brilliant high school career with a state championship this weekend.
“Last year, I was more scared than anything. I figured I would be in for some really tough matches. After I wrestled I realized they were all just like me and just as scared,” Martinez said.
He ended up winning one and losing two. He took his lumps against older, more experienced wrestlers. This time around Martinez will be the one with the age, maturity and experience edge.
“Over the last four years I have improved greatly. Last year I took CIF and qualified for state, so my goal this year is to either place or win at state.”
This week he has been training as hard as always, but placing more emphasis on his technique. He knows he will face some highly skilled wrestlers, but he remains confident.
Wrestling is probably the most demanding and least recognized of all high school sports. It takes a special person to battle through the pain and exhaustion that it brings. It requires tremendous discipline. Martinez believes he inherited his from his father, a career military man.
“I don’t like mediocrity. I’m not interested in just being good,” Martinez said. “I want to be the best.”
Martinez is already the best that San Diego County has to offer. This weekend he will find out if he is the best in California.
Note: Mar Vista’s Hugo Medrano (130 lbs.) is the other South Bay wrestler competing this weekend in Bakersfield.