Rifle’s Martinez frustrated with fifth-place finish
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado – James Martinez set foot on the mat for this fifth-place match, showing little emotion. He shook hands with his opponent and the referee.
Then he dominated the match – 2-0, 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, and finished off Austin Harris of Windsor with a pin at 1:23 of the second round.
Then Martinez was emotional. With his head down, he stumbled into the arms of his dad – and assistant coach – Danny Martinez. And there were tears. Dad whispered into his ear, and they held the embrace.
These weren’t tears of joy. Fifth place was not what Martinez came to Denver for in his senior season. These were tears of disappointment.
He stood on the podium with his fifth place medal around his neck. But the top spot was what he’d always dreamed of.
Fourteen years of wrestling, and his last high school match was not what he
wanted. Victorious, but disappointing. Fifth is a great accomplishment, but fifth is not the medal he craved.
“State is like my kryptonite,” Martinez said after regaining his composure.
Harnessing the emotions that come with the end of a high school career. “I couldn’t bring it together this week. Really though my high school career. I
always came in with good records but I would come to state and just couldn’t get that edge.”
Dreams of a state title ended on Friday with a 6-0 loss in the semifinals.
Then he saw his shot at a second-straight third-place medal disappear when he dropped his consolation finals match to Roosevelt’s Zach Legino, 8-1, Saturday morning. Legino cruised to the third-place title later.
The fifth-place match was a methodical performance by Martinez, who dominated from the opening whistle.
Head coach John Wisniewski had some simple advice for the 140-pound wrestler he’s coached for his entire high school career.
“Before the fifth place match I told him to just get it done. You don’t want to end your senior year on a loss.” he said.
Wisniewski speaks from experience. It’s a haunting past he’s lived twice.
“It’s one of the worst tastes in your mouth. I told him that I ended my senior year in high school on a loss and I ended my senior year in college on a loss. And to this day, I still remember that. I told him that even though it’s not what you want, just go out there and get it done.”
Martinez wanted to win his last match of his career and stand on that podium as one of the best 4A wrestlers in Colorado. But he came to Denver for more than fifth.
“It’s tough because you see where you want to be and see where you are,” he said, shifting his eyes downward. “It’s discouraging.”
The disappointment and emotion wasn’t limited to Martinez. Wisniewski was hurting too.
“He’s worked so hard. He loves the sport of wrestling. He’s the type of kid that when he’s in a sport, he gives 100 percent of his heart to the sport
the entire time,” he said. “It’s disappointing yes, but it’s the state tournament and any place on that podium, you have to be proud of.”
Wisniewski said he is a better coach because of Martinez.
“He’s been a blessing to the team and I love him. He’s one of the most talented wrestlers we’ve ever had here,” he added.
For Martinez, his career ends with a victory in his final match. But it wasn’t what he came to Denver for. But that’s state wrestling. Sometimes disappointment is the victor.
Earlier on Saturday, 130-pound Rifle junior Larry Schmueser lost his second match of the 4A tournament and was eliminated from medal contention.
Wisniewski said he is looking forward to Schmueser coming back for his senior year.
“One great thing about Larry Schmueser is that he will walk away from this tournament with a little bit of a sour taste in his mouth. He’s going to come back bigger, stronger next year, he’s just that type of kid,” he said.
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