Jose Martinez took charge of the Newark wrestling program in 2009.
Finally, Martinez and the Wildcats have a new home. Years of hard work with athletic director Jeff Quackenbush paid off earlier this fall when Newark took possession of the gymnasium at the old Roosevelt Middle School, where the school administration is now housed.
“You walk into other schools, and you see champions on the wall and photos of old-school guys,” Martinez said. “We could put things up at the (Evans Athletic Complex), but they had to be taken down as soon as football was ready to go.”
It is not perfect yet, but it is a big step. At Evans, the Wildcats had a locker room cleared out each winter and filled with mats. Now, they have a full gym floor and the middle school team practicing alongside.
“It has been pretty nice,” said senior Dan Pastorius, who was an individual champion at 182 pounds at Mount Vernon on Saturday. “We were always worried about running into the walls or running into each other because we didn’t have enough space.”
After the high school and middle school clears out, Newark’s biddy team fills the floor. The seating allows for parents to watch, another benefit.
Martinez has an office off the stage, and he has storage space for uniforms. The Wildcats only have four showers available because most of the locker rooms were taken out in the building renovations, and recent graduate Jacob Jones donated some weightlifting equipment Martinez hopes to eventually add to.
Results on the mat are so far, so good. Newark fared well at Mount Vernon despite not having seniors Bryce Thompson and Nathan Rodgers and sophomore Jamye Randolph in the lineup. Chase Lasko (195) placed fourth in addition to Pastorius’ title.
“Braden Smith (160) is a junior who just came out and went 3-2,” Martinez said. “He didn’t place, but he had three wins with two pins. That is good even though it was in the consolation bracket. Henry Pham (132) was another, a sophomore who didn’t place but had three good wins.”
Pastorius has the most experience on the team and is pitching in where he can. With so many young wrestlers, Martinez and his staff cannot always catch everyone.
“When the coaches are busy, I don’t mind stepping in and helping,” Pastorius said. “I show them how to do a drill, or if they are doing something wrong, I show them how to fix what they are doing.”
As Martinez sits in his office, he is overjoyed to be able to share where his program is going. He recently sat down with former coach Lee Sherman, who shared boxes of memorabilia, including photos from Rod Barndollar’s state title at 185 pounds in 1976.
Of course, Martinez also is mixing in the new with the old. He has compiled a list of records just from his short time as coach. Forty wins in a season is the mark Pastorius and his teammates are chasing.
“Career wins, Dujuan Booker got 118, and Taylor Brokaw had 113,” Martinez said. “They set the bar right now.”