Martinez wins his third Big Ten title


Photo courtesy of Ricky Bassman

Isaiah Martinez wins his third Big Ten title 10-4, and will likely be the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA tournament.

By Brina Binz, Staff writer

New weight, same result for Illinois wrestler Isaiah Martinez.

It didn’t take long for the now three-time Big Ten champion to assert himself against Michigan’s Logan Massa, jumping out to a 6-0 lead after the end of the first period, following a takedown and four-point near fall.

Martinez cruised the rest of the way, with Massa never getting within four points and claiming his third Big Ten title in as many tries, 10-4.

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Martinez remains undefeated this year at 165 pounds and will likely be the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA tournament.

“(I’m) embracing who I am becoming, and that’s one of the greatest wrestlers to ever wrestle in college,” Martinez said in an interview with the Big Ten Network.

Martinez became the third Illini to win three Big Ten wrestling titles and the fifth from the school to win in two different weight classes.

Along with Martinez, five other Illini clinched NCAA tournament spots. Unseeded Travis Piotrowksi took fourth at 125 pounds, Zane Richards took fourth at 133 pounds, Kyle Langenderfer took eighth at 157 pounds, Zac Brunson took fourth at 174 pounds and Emery Parker took fifth at 184 pounds after his opponent forfeited due to injury.

Piotrowski became the first Illini true freshman to qualify for the NCAA tournament since 2011.

Eric Barone took eighth at 149 pounds, but only the top six wrestlers get guaranteed bids at that weight class.

Heavyweight Brooks Black forfeited his consolation matches Saturday. He went through concussion protocol.

Black and Barone will both have to wait until March 8 when the NCAA releases the full bracket for its tournament.

Illinois finished sixth in the team competition, with 88.5 points, trailing winner Ohio State by 51 points.

The seven Illini who qualified will be in St. Louis for the NCAA tournament on March 17.

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