Battle of the unbeaten: Isaiah Martinez vs Jason Nolf
A match that has been talked about since Isaiah Martinez won his first title – IMAR will go toe-to-toe with Penn State freshman Jason Nolf.
This weekend will present a unique meeting between two wrestlers who both will enter the match with undefeated records to this point in their careers. They have yet to combine for 100 career wins, but Illinois sophomore Isaiah Martinez and Penn State freshman Jason Nolf are already two of the most discussed wrestlers on the NCAA level.
The possibility of this match being an all-time great was born about a year ago when Martinez was a freshman that torched the Midlands field on the way to his fist title, while a few days later Nolf would run through the Southern Scuffle bracket finishing second. Nolf was competing unattached at the time, but the idea was immediately concocted as fans across the country were finally able to get a chance and watch these two wrestlers with seemingly unstoppable offenses go up against a competitive field.
Once Martinez was able to complete his historic freshman season where he went 34-0 on his way to a NCAA title in St. Louis, it became abundantly clear that we could expect great things from the Illinois wrestler. The real question then became would Nolf be up to the task to run through the early season gauntlet and enter Big Ten dual season with an undefeated record to setup a match between two undefeated wrestlers, with a lot more than #1 seed at the Big Ten Championships on the line.
Up to the middle of January, Nolf has answered that question so well that calling Martinez the favorite in their meeting almost feels like you are cheating Nolf of all that he has done. To his credit he is 21-0 this season, with a bonus victory in 19 of his 21 matches. Martinez has extended his streak to 52-0, and like Nolf, only two of his wins have not come by bonus.
If that isn’t enough of eerily similarities between these two, of each wrestlers wins on the season both failed to win by more than a decision against Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith – Martinez won 11-5, Nolf 7-3.
This Saturday, we as a wrestling community will finally get our wish. #3 Jason Nolf and his top ranked Nittany Lions will travel to Champaign, Illinois to face the Fighting Illini and #1 Isaiah Martinez will be waiting for Nolf potentially alter the course of one college wrestling biggest stories. Only one wrestler has managed to go undefeated for their entire career and that was Nolf’s head coach, Cael Sanderson.
This is a big match for the entire college wrestling community with one wrestler looking to continue his chance at joining the all-time greats of the sport, and the other trying to do the exact same thing, but is only a year behind.
Both wrestlers bring excellent defense to the mat, but there is no doubt that this match doesn’t have the same feel as the last super match fans were able to witness: Kyle Dake vs David Taylor. In that match Taylor was viewed as an unstoppable force looking to run into the immovable object Kyle Dake. This match however, feels like two unstoppable forces running into each other leaving us unsure exactly what this match will truly be like.
Fans can catch this dual on BTN at 3:00 PM Central this Saturday.
How the rest of the dual shakes out:
125: #4 Nico Megaludis (PSU) vs Frances Edelen (ILL)
133: #5 Jordan Conaway vs #2 Zane Richards
141: #13 Jimmy Gulibon vs Brock Ervin
149: #1 Zain Retherford vs Kyle Lagenderfer
157: #3 Jason Nolf vs #1 Isaiah Martinez
165: #16 Shakur Rasheed vs #6 Steven Rodrigues
174: #1 Bo Nickal vs #5 Zac Brunson
184: #10 Matt McCutcheon vs Jeff Koepke
197: #1 Morgan McIntosh vs Andre Lee
285: Jan Johnson vs #20 Brooks Black