Wrestling to the top: Senior looks back on success, forward to her future

Taylor Martinez shares how she started wrestling and post high school goals

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Amanda Hare

A digitally constructed image shows senior Taylor Martinez with her wrestling team. Martinez has participated on the varsity wrestling team since her freshman year and has attended the state UIL meet for the past three years. “My favorite part about coaching Taylor – there’s a lot of things,” wrestling coach Sion King said. “Really, what stands out the most about her is her positive attitude. She’s always smiling. There’s never a time when she’s not smiling or upbeat.” (Photos courtesy of Sion King and Taylor Martinez. Digitally constructed image by Amanda Hare.)

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At the Arlington Invitation Meet, senior Taylor Martinez stands with her teammates. The Meet occured Friday, Nov. 12. The girls team placed fifth. (Photo courtesy of Sion King.)

 

Senior Taylor Martinez told her mother that she needed a ride to cheerleading practice.

Her mom dropped her off at school early, and Martinez hopped out of the car. Then, she headed to her very first wrestling practice.

Now a senior, she looks forward to her fourth year as a varsity wrestler and her future in wrestling. Martinez first started wrestling in middle school, when her friend introduced her to the sport.

“I grew up with five brothers, and I am the second to youngest, so I’ve always been a tomboy,” Martinez said. “She (her friend) just thought that I would be into it, because they always knew that I had a lot of natural strength.”

When Martinez went home and asked her parents if she could wrestle, they said no – it was a “male sport.”

“I was like, ‘Okay whatever,'” Martinez said. “I joined behind their back, but I still needed a ride to practice because it was early in the mornings before school. So, I lied to my mother that I was going to cheerleading practice. And then, my first match came up, and I was like, ‘Hey, I actually joined wrestling, come see me.’ And thank goodness it went well.”

As she entered high school, Martinez made the varsity team her freshman year.

“I had six strings as a freshman,” Martinez said. “It’s like, if I got hurt, I’ve got six other teammates that could be on a varsity sport.”

Martinez has been on the varsity team for all of her years in high school, and she has gone to the state meet every year since she was a freshman.

“I keep on progressing,” Martinez said. “So, freshman year I went to state. Sophomore year, I got fourth. And, junior year, I choked and got second.”

Last year, Martinez won the regional UIL meet before placing second at the state UIL meet.

“I was up by four points,” Martinez said about her state match. “She had nothing on me. I was obviously the better wrestler. But, I happened to be on my knees for too long and got trucked to my back. I got pinned with two seconds left within a period.”

This year, Martinez hopes for first. As for how the state competition has changed for her over the years, she said the nerves are “definitely not as intense,” but her “love for the sport” is the same. Martinez also said she found success so early in her wrestling career because of her “natural strength.”

“I was surprised of how little technique I had, but the athleticism that I had,” Martinez said. “My strength helped out. And maybe my speed, but my speed has progressed tremendously.”

Martinez said she has grown most in her speed and technique.

“I would say this year is the year that I’ve definitely gotten good,” Martinez said. “My speed is good. My technique in all areas got better. It’s just me not stepping to my opponents’ level. Just me knowing my abilities and being confident in my abilities.”

Her biggest challenge, she said, is her cardio. Martinez works on this by kickboxing at the Next Generation Gym in Frisco.

“I’m trying to get into (kickboxing,) after a little bit of college to get money – MMA-type,” Martinez said. “It’s also a natural talent.”

As for her final year on the varsity wrestling team, Martinez said she hopes to be undefeated in her matches this year.

I remember meeting her at a Rock Wall tournament, and I’m like ‘Who are you?’ She was so raw. She was completely athletic, and didn’t have a clue what she was doing. She won several matches just because of athletic ability and hustle. Now, she’s come a long way, growing up as a young lady.”

— Wrestling coach Tony Cooper

“Sophomore year I only got nine losses, and then last year I only had two,” Martinez said. “Sophomore year we had 50 wins, and with COVID last year, I only had 20-something wins.”

After high school, Martinez said she hopes to continue wrestling.

“I plan on getting a four-year scholarship. I don’t know where yet,” Martinez said. “We have maybe a few in line. Wrestle. Get my basics. Do that, and then see where it goes from there.”

Martinez said she is looking at Wayland Baptist University, Texas Women’s University and Schreiner University. In all her years, though, Martinez said her teammates have been the most “influential” to her.

“I would say,” Martinez said. “Just everything going through all the years, just having all the people seeing them, come and go, and just making sure I’m in contact with them and making sure we’re still good.”

Martinez said she “definitely” still keeps in contact with many of her former teammates.

“At this school, the team of girls is definitely building. We have about 30 girls my senior year. My freshman year we had maybe 20 or 15,” Martinez said. “It didn’t seem that small ever. Thank goodness to the Prosper community for having both. Prosper is more fortunate for having it.”

Wrestling coach Sion King said his favorite part about coaching Martinez is her attitude.

“My favorite part about coaching Taylor – there’s a lot of things,” King said. “Really, what stands out the most about her is her positive attitude. She’s always smiling. There’s never a time when she’s not smiling or upbeat.”

Wrestling coach Tony Cooper said his favorite part about coaching Martinez is her “personality.”

“She is very sassy,” Cooper said. “Life is always fun to her. She’s just got an upbeat personality. I wish more kids would be like that. She just goes and wrestles. She doesn’t care.”