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Freshman Female Phenom Finds Success On Mat
Moments after taking first place in the Womens West Coast Tournament of Champions in Rocklin, Faalia Martinez of Oakdale was all smiles with her medal around her neck. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Oakdale High School wrestling is the gold standard for wrestling in the area. They have 10 straight Section Titles to prove it. Oakdale’s success is guided by the leadership of the coaching staff led by Steve Strange, and the senior wrestlers each year mentoring the younger wrestlers in the program. This year, one of the new faces to the team is freshman Faalia Martinez.

Martinez, the younger sister of Mustang varsity wrestler Gabe Martinez, is making a name for herself in prestigious female tournaments.

Recently Martinez competed in the Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions in Rocklin. Martinez took first place in the tournament in the 143-pound weight class. Over 250 wrestlers competed in the tournament, with several college recruiters on hand. In 2016 she took first in tournaments in Napa and McNair as well.

“I started out young. I started at the age of eight; my dad, Benjamin, has always coached me in youth wrestling. From there I joined the junior high team and this year I joined the high school team, so wrestling has always been a part of my life,” Martinez said of her wrestling history. “Having my big brother on the team, he puts extra pressure on me, but at the same time he is supportive of me, and helps me with advice.”

In late January, she competed in a tournament at Enochs High School and earned second place in her weight class.

Martinez joined the OHS wrestling team in the summer of 2016. She began with their summer workout program and did not feel intimidated by anyone.

“There was no nervousness or butterflies heading into the program. Everybody has been welcoming towards me, the coaches have been great and the guys have taken me in too,” she said. “I think the youth wrestling has helped me out a lot because it helped prepare me for this level.”

There is no specific style that separates Martinez from other grapplers. She tries to keep it basic and not to stress out.

“Honestly I take it one match at a time. Every match and opponent is different. I don’t have a specific style of wrestling; I try to keep it basic and not do too much,” Martinez explained. “I can hear my dad and the coaches yelling at me from the stands or the corner, so that gets me excited and motivated at the same time.”

Although she is only a freshman, Martinez has set some long term goals, including a state championship.

“I want a state championship this year. It’s going to take a lot to accomplish, but I feel like I have the best coaches, teammates and family surrounding me to accomplish this goal,” she said.

Martinez is not the only female in the Oakdale wrestling program as the team also has Rebekah Munoz on the roster. Munoz competed in the Enochs Tournament recently as well and earned fourth place.