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Illinois Wrestling: Isaiah Martinez named InterMat Freshman of the Year

Illini national champion earns another accolade.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois freshman Isaiah Martinez was named National Freshman of the Year by the amateur wrestling website InterMat on Thursday.

The award, presented each year since 2006, is given to the best collegiate freshman wrestler in all divisions. InterMat writers and executives selected five freshman wrestlers and ranked them from first to fifth. Point values were assigned to each placement, ranging from one point for fifth up to nine points for a first-place selection on a voter's ballot.

Martinez claimed all 10 first-place votes to win the award over a trio of Ohio State wrestlers: Nathan Tomasello (64 points), Kyle Snyder (37 points) and Bo Jordan (34 points).

Martinez, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, finished the season 35-0 and won the national championship at 157 pounds. of his 35 wins, 24 were bonus-point victories, including a NCAA-leading 11 technical falls. He's just the third Illinois wrestler to finish an undefeated season, joining Eric Siebert (1998) and Matt Lackey (2003). The perfect freshman campaign was also the first since Iowa State's Cael Sanderson accomplished the same feat in 1999.

He also finished third in the Dan Hodge Trophy voting, the sports' equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

"Isaiah Martinez had the single greatest freshman wrestling year in the history of NCAA wrestling," said InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley. "We're all witnesses."

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