Three years ago, Will Martin’s father urged him to join the wrestling team. Now Martin wishes his father had acted earlier.
Martin said he loves to wrestle. He doesn’t love the practices. He doesn’t care much about winning. He loves the six minutes on the mat when he and his opponent compete to determine who’s better.
In three years, Martin (160) went from no wrestling experience to a state championship qualifier with a 27-15 record for Rock Bridge.
Intensity has earned Martin new nickname
Bruins coach John Kopnisky said Martin is successful because he wrestles with a lot of intensity, so much intensity the coaches nicknamed him “Will Rage.”
“When he really goes after it hard and is wrestling tough, he wins those matches,” Kopnisky said. “Those are the really key matches. When he brings on what we call the Will ‘Rage.’”
Kopnisky said if Martin can wrestle with intensity during the state championships that run today through Saturday at Hearnes Center, he should place in the top six in his weight class.
Cam Purcell (152) and Erin Slate (171) will join Martin at Hearnes Center. They qualified for the state tournament Saturday at Jefferson City High. The top four in each weight class advanced. Purcell (12-14) and Martin placed fourth. Slate (28-11) placed third.
None of the three had made the state tournament before. Martin said his training was the reason he made it to the state meet this year.
“This year I’ve tried to protect a few moves and I put on muscle and lost some fat,” Martin said. “I just got in better shape.”
Teammates endure extra practice for state tournament
To be successful at the state tournament, Purcell, Martin and Slate are practicing extra in the morning, studying film and wrestling after school with their teammates. Their teammates’ seasons have been over for a while, but they’re there every day pushing the state qualifiers.
Because Martin has had such a short career, Kopnisky made changes to help him.
“We’re adapting our style in some aspects for (Martin) because as far as technique and skill level he’s not advanced as some of his other teammates,” Kopnisky said. “We try to do what we can for him technique-wise to make sure he’s at the point where he can compete.”
Kopnisky said it is sometimes hard to teach Martin because he is outgoing and constantly talking.
Kopnisky said Martin uses his boldness to help his teammates.
“In between rounds he’s always grabbing guys and doing some wrestling moves with them,” Kopnisky said. “He’s a very active individual and he tries to impart that on some of the other guys.”