INDEPENDENCE — Wrestling is a sport that’s being passed down among the Martinez brothers.
Manuel Martinez, who graduated from Central High School in 2017, was the first brother to pick it up in middle school at Talmadge. Before long, his younger brother Luis, who is now a senior, was eager to try it. And now, youngest brother Adrian, a freshman, is following in his two older brothers’ footsteps.
It’s a sport the brothers have come to enjoy.
Luis started wrestling in seventh grade.
“In middle school, (Manuel and I) liked the sport a little bit,” Luis said, “but we really liked the coaches, and the team was really cool, so that’s what made us keep wanting to do wrestling. And then I just ended up going with it.” Now, five years later: “I’ve grown to really like the sport,” Luis said. “I like the competition because it helps me push myself, and it helps me not slack off.”
This wrestling season is Adrian’s third overall, but first with the high school. He said the Panthers team is like a little family.
It also “fills up the free time that I have,” he said.
The brothers are in different weight classes, with Luis wrestling at 120 and Adrian at 106.
“In practice I’m not allowed to wrestle (Adrian) that much, because he’s my brother, so (head coach Van Holstad) is like, ‘you guys are just going to end up talking,’” Luis said, laughing.
Though both boys are quiet individuals, Holstad says the boys come alive at competition.
“As athletes, they are hard workers and have opened up with us throughout their time with us ... They are not outwardly competitive with each other, but they all get that spark when thrown into competition among other team mates and at tournaments.”
They may not wrestle one another, but Luis said he gives Adrian advice on how he can improve.
“After practice, I’ll tell him, you should have done this better or that,” Luis said. “I critique both of us so we can get better.”
“I feel like he’s a good wrestler, so I listen to him,” Adrian added.
They said that their older brother comes to most of their meets and gives both brothers advice on what to do better.
“He pretty much comes to all of them,” Adrian said.
Luis said Manuel especially mentors Adrian, since Luis can’t wrestle with him.
“It’s mostly my older brother who helps him at meets,” Luis said. “When we’re warming up, I’m practicing by myself with someone else, and my older brother helps (Adrian) a lot.”
As the season comes to a close — one more meet to go before districts — the Martinez brothers reflect on how their season has gone.
“It’s going all right, it could go better,” Luis said, shrugging. “It’s been good. I’m not mad about how it’s been going.” He listed off a few things he wants to improve on before the season is over, including “technique. I could practice more in certain situations, and moving, because I stop a lot, so I just need to keep moving.”
For Adrian, he said he still has a lot to learn, but overall, “it’s been going alright, for my first year. I’ve been getting better.”