The Daily Illini

Martinez wins fourth Big Ten championship

Illinois%27+Isaiah+Martinez+wrestles+with+Maryland%27s+Brendan+Burnham+in+the+165+pound+weight+class+during+the+meet+at+Huff+Hall+on+Sunday%2C+Jan.+28%2C+2018.+The+Illini+won+25-18.
Illinois' Isaiah Martinez wrestles with Maryland's Brendan Burnham in the 165 pound weight class during the meet at Huff Hall on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The Illini won 25-18.

Illinois' Isaiah Martinez wrestles with Maryland's Brendan Burnham in the 165 pound weight class during the meet at Huff Hall on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The Illini won 25-18.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Isaiah Martinez wrestles with Maryland's Brendan Burnham in the 165 pound weight class during the meet at Huff Hall on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The Illini won 25-18.

By Jared Farmer, Staff writer

Isaiah Martinez made history on Sunday. Wrestling Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph in an NCAA Finals rematch, Martinez pulled through and secured his fourth Big Ten title — the first time anybody has done that in school history.

But he doesn’t seem to think that much of the accomplishment.

“It doesn’t mean a damn thing to me until I win a national championship,” Martinez told BTN. “That’s all I’m focusing on.”

Martinez’ title caps off a weekend that saw four of the Illini Men’s Wrestling Team place in the top five of their respective weight classes: freshmen Dylan Duncan (133) placed third overall and Mike Carr (141) finished second and junior Emery Parker (184) finished fifth.

To get to the finals, Martinez defeated Nebraska’s Isaiah White and Rutgers’ Richie Lewis. He controlled both matches throughout, defeating White with an early takedown in the third period and then got out to an early lead against Lewis that he couldn’t catch up to.

With this title, Martinez becomes the 15th wrestler to ever win a Big Ten title in all four years of their collegiate careers.

Duncan was the first Illini to wrestle Sunday afternoon. After being defeated in the quarterfinals, the freshman went up against Minnesota’s Mitch Mckee to compete for the 3rd place spot at 133 lbs.

Duncan began the tournament with a dominant victory against Iowa’s Paul Glynn, winning 9-1 by major decision to advance to the quarterfinals.

Despite successful start, Duncan was defeated by the eventual second place finisher, Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher. Because Pletcher made it to the finals, Duncan became eligible to compete in 3rd place against Minnesota’s Mitch Mckee. Duncan controlled the matchup and dominated Mckee throughout, winning by major decision and finishing in 3rd place at his weight.

Mike Carr followed that up with his championship match against Ohio State’s Joey Mckenna, a back-to-back Pac-12 Champion who transferred out of Stanford this season. To reach the finals, he beat Northwestern’s Alexander Mckenna in a victory by major decision, then in the quarterfinals went back and forth with Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn. Defeating Thorn 8-6, Carr then faced Nick Lee in the semifinals, and recovered after giving up an early takedown to win 10-6.

In the finals, Carr struggled early on against the No. 1 ranked wrestler, who ended up scoring on five takedowns throughout the first two periods. Carr never managed to recover, as he was defeated 13-0 and finished second place. This title marks the third conference title that Mckenna has won, and his first Big Ten title.

Isaiah Martinez chased Carr’s second place finish with his fourth title victory in an NCAA Finals rematch against Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph.

The match was a contested stalemate through the first two periods. Only Joseph scored, picking up a point from an escape. Martinez responded to start the third with another escape to tie the score at one each. The third period remained as contested as the first two periods, with both Martinez and Joseph failing to score on each other. With 10 seconds remaining, Martinez stole the victory with a last second takedown, winning 4-1 with a bonus point from riding time.

“It’s been 351 days since we last wrestled,” Martinez said. “I was just trying to know myself and know my value. This was a return to form for me.”

Parker was the final Illini to wrestle Sunday afternoon, wrestling against Minnesota’s Brandon Krone for fifth place. Parker scored on a takedown to start the first, and after a few escapes, he then managed to push the lead up 4-0. Parker got another takedown midway through the third, and continued to hold Krone scoreless for a fifth place finish.

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