EGG HARBOR, TWP. – Many High School wrestlers, at least in theory, get several chances to win a state championship.
But that’s not so in the case of Williamstown’s 195-pounder Bryan Martin.
“I look at this like this is my only shot,” said Martin, a senior has missed the past two seasons with a broken thumb on each hand. “I have to take it.”
Martin took a giant step toward possibly locking up the No. 1 seed in his weight class for the upcoming state tournament Saturday when he won the Region 8 title at Egg Harbor High School.
He looks at this as his last hurrah and that’s inspired him to give everything he has to this championship quest.
“I have to leave it all out there,” he said. “There’s no room for error. This is the year it has to get done.”
Martin secured the title with a 6-3 win over St. Augustine’s Tommy Maxwell to runs his seasonal record to 35-0.
Both wrestlers seemed a bit tentative but, for Martin’s part, he said the key to his strategy was to avoid making any mistakes.
“I just tried to wrestle smart,” he said. “I was trying to find an opening and see what I could do.”
The victory and the championship that goes with it helped Martin to continue adding memories and highlights to a season that many others may have never experienced.
Wrestling is such a tough sport to perform, and you’d think there would have had to have been times when Martin was tempted to succumb to his injuries and call it quits.
But he says that’s a thought that never entered his mind.
“I’ve been doing this sport since I was 6 years old,” he said. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart for wrestling. I never wanted to quit. I never wanted to give up.
“There’s nothing better than winning head-to-head in a wrestling match. It’s all individual. It’s all on you. It’s great to see a result come out of this.”
Martin recalled that he was able to wrestle through his freshman year, and that he made it to the regions, but things went sour after that.
“To sum it up, it was injuries – bad luck, misfortune, I don’t know,” he said. “In my sophomore year I started out doing pretty good and got hurt. Then in my junior year I got hurt again and missed the whole season.”
Williamstown coach John Jernigan was one of the ones who stuck it through with Martin during all his trials and tribulations. The coach said he was not surprised that Martin didn’t give up on the sport.
“He’s got a lot of character,” he said. “He cares about not only himself, but his teammates and the school. If we ask him to do something in practice, he does it.
“He won some big matches early and he’s been working hard in the room. This year everything is going his way and he’s having a great season.”
While he was deprived of a chance to participate in the sport, he said he spent time watching it.
“I couldn’t practice, so I studied (tapes) to see what makes a good wrestler successful. I watched college, some Olympic – I watched my teammates and some other successful high schoolers, just seeing what they do and see what works.”
Because of his dedication to the sport, going back to participating in youth tournaments, Martin said he felt well prepared to contend for this year’s championship.
“I just go out there and (I feel like) I can’t lose,” he said. “For my friends and my family – everybody who supported me – this is what I can do for them for all they’ve done for me.”