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Illinois Wrestling: Isaiah Martinez caps undefeated season with 157-pound national title

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Redshirt freshman becomes just third wrestler to finish undefeated season in program's history.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Martinez's wrestling career at Illinois is off to a perfect start.

Martinez won the 157-pound NCAA title with a 10-2 decision over No. 2 Brian Realbuto, of Cornell, on Saturday at the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo. at the Scottrade Center.

With the win, Martinez becomes the first undefeated freshman to win a national championship since Iowa State's Cael Sanderson in 1999.

In the first period of the championship match, Martinez showed his offensive power with a double leg takedown and gave up an escape to hold a 2-1 lead. Martinez escaped to start the second period and grabbed another takedown for a 5-1 advantage. He added a takedown and took Realbuto to his back for two near-fall points before fending off some shot attempts for a 10-2 victory with riding time.

Martinez began his run to a national championship with an 18-2 technical fall over Russell Parsons (Army) for his NCAA leading 11 technical fall. He followed with a pin against Spartak Chino (Ohio) in 1:25. In the quarterfinals, he took out Nick Brascetta (Virginia Tech), 10-4. He then edged out James Green (Nebraska), 3-2, in the semifinals.

Martinez (35-0) joins Matt Lackey (2003) and Eric Siebert (1998) has the third Illini to complete an undefeated season. He racked up 24 bonus point wins, and has won 42 consecutive matches dating back to last season.

The Illini finished in 12th place with 51 points at the 2015 NCAA Championships.

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