Tyler Martinez and Ty Edwards in June earned two of the first three state tournament medals in the short three-year history of Yorkville Christian wrestling.
They took their success national last week.
Martinez and Edwards, both Plano residents, walked away with All-American honors by placing in the top eight in the nation as part of Team Illinois at the USA Junior & 16U Freestyle/Greco Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.
Martinez took eighth place in 16U Greco at 160 pounds and Edwards eighth in Junior Freestyle at 106 pounds at Fargo Nationals, one of the most distinguished wrestling tournaments in the country.
“This is a different style of wrestling than we normally do, a lot different than what we’re used to,” said Martinez, who will be a junior this fall, said of competing in Greco in his first time at Fargo. “Going into the tournament I wasn’t sure what to expect, just trying to think positively and try to perform at my best. I was training all year for it. As long as I went out and did what I practice there I thought it would end well.”
Edwards said he considered his first match his biggest in a tournament that draws some 6,000 competitors.
“Getting that one in, and having it be a win at the start was important,” Edwards said. “It’s pretty breathtaking just getting in the arena and seeing all those wrestlers at the national level, and just competing with them.”
For Martinez and Edwards, the event was quite a capper to what has been a challenging year for wrestlers throughout Illinois, and made for a busy spring.
The IHSA wrestling season was pushed back to an April start because of the pandemic, with no IHSA postseason. The Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association filled that void with a state tournament in June in Springfield, where Martinez placed third at 160 pounds and Edwards second at 106. Yorkville Christian heavyweight Michael Esquivel earned a fifth-place medal at the state event.
Martinez and Edwards promptly transitioned to freestyle/Greco mode to prepare for the national championships.
Two of their Yorkville Christian teammates, Jackson Gillen and Drew Torza, also qualified and represented Team Illinois at Fargo competing in the freestyle discipline. The Mustangs punched their tickets to Fargo at last month’s qualifying event in Wisconsin.
“I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments at this grand event,” Yorkville Christian coach Mike Vester said. “Wrestling is the ultimate grind…all the time. To have the determination to continue a rigorous post-season schedule following the hardcore training we put in during the regular season is a special quality.”
Martinez, who said he wrestled seven matches over six days in Fargo, was grateful to see “all the hard work paying off” of 14 years wrestling.
He called his blood round match that determined whether he’d place or be eliminated the highlight of the tournament.
“I ended up wrestling another kid from Illinois, won a 10-0 technical fall,” Martinez said. “It was a cool experience. I got to share that with my dad and celebrate with him.”
Edwards likewise was pleased to see the work he’s put in rewarded. That includes two practices a day this year, one each at his school and club.
“It’s definitely one of the highest achievements I’ve ever had,” Edwards said. “All I was really thinking about was taking it one match at a time. Got to win the first one and keep going after that.”