Former Riverside-Brookfield and now North Central College wrestler Amanda Martinez garnered her share of accolades during her high school career, including a championship at the girls high school state tournament in 2017 as a senior.
And now she has competed against some of the best in the world.
In April, Martinez wrestled in the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Dickies Arena in Fort Worth Texas, where women’s freestyle along with men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman trials were all being held.
A collegiate All-American, Martinez qualified to compete after taking second place in the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships in March. Martinez was seeded 12th in the weight class. After competing in three matches and finishing in the top eight for women in the 57 kg weight class, Martinez was delighted with the whole experience overall.
“The competition itself was great to be a part of,” she said. “Everyone there was a stud, so being on that level was a pretty big deal. I knew I was not going to have any boring matches and I did not. Weighing in with Olympic champs and warming up next to some of the best in the world made me come to the realization that it was big time.”
During the competition, Martinez was victorious against current NAIA national champion Bridgette Duty of the University of the Cumberlands, who was ranked above Martinez heading into the tournament.
“That was pretty cool because we hadn’t been able to compete against any of the NAIA teams this year due to COVID,” Martinez said. “It was fun to see how that would have stacked up. I could have definitely wrestled better, but the experience was amazing, and I can’t wait for 2024 to go for it again.”
Martinez, who transferred to North Central after two years at Lindenwood University in Missouri, went 30-5 in the 2019-20 season, and despite not having regular season matches this year was thrilled to be able to compete in the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships. She also took fifth place at the World Team trials last November. Her experience in college has been a memorable one, as she can compete on an all-women’s team.
“Being able to see all the women with similar determination that have probably dealt with some of the same obstacles coming into the sport is pretty amazing,” she said. “You relate to them just as much as you want to beat them, and in such a tight community there is so much respect.”
Martinez’s successful career started with lessons she learned from the coaching staff at RBHS, and she said was indebted to her high school coaches Matt Regnier, Mario Shermack, Nick Curby and, most notably, coach Mike Boyd.
“I definitely would not be the wrestler I am today without him,” Martinez said. “Just knowing that the sacrifices will be worth it, when you do not have to ask yourself if you could have done more. And, of course, not putting too much pressure on the result but instead working to be 1 percent better every day in any and every aspect of life not just wrestling.”
Martinez is now teaching young wrestlers herself as a coach with the West Suburban Girls Wrestling Club in Naperville, where she hopes to instill the same values she learned at RBHS to the young women that want to be great at the sport.
“This sport has developed me so much both physically and mentally, and I’m glad that I can help give back a little,” Martinez said. “Women’s wrestling is only getting bigger and to be part of that growth is an absolute blessing. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”