Former Bobcat gives back to wrestling community

Gustavo Martinez never had enough money to attend wrestling camps in Marshalltown. He always needed financial help when he went to bigger events away from home. And he never forgot about all of those that were there to help him get to where he is today.

For that, the soon-to-be senior at Grand View University wanted to give back to his Marshalltown community.

To do so, he and Bobcat head wrestling coach Mike Mann conducted a two-day wrestling camp at Anson Elementary School. And they didn’t charge a dime.

The free camp lasted two hours on Monday and Tuesday evening and featured current members of the Bobcat coaching staff, former high school heavyweight state champion Pedro Gomez and others from the community lending a hand in trying to improve the Bobcat wrestling program.

“We wanted to do something for everybody,” said Mann. “We sent out some flyers and we always try to promote the program and here is Gustavo, who left Marshalltown and proved that you can leave and do something. He is living proof that you can win a national title. Grand View is rocking right now and these kids can see what Gustavo has done and maybe learn from him.”

The camp was open to all wrestlers and elementary, middle school and high school grapplers attended.

Martinez knew how important wrestling camps were to him when he was a young prep athlete at Marshalltown. And he hopes Bobcat grapplers who come through the program after him set their goals high and dream big.

“Coach Mann and I are trying to motivate kids,” said Martinez. “I have been through this program and I just want to show them that I am from Marshalltown just like they are. I am hoping they dream big and have big goals. They can’t take a back seat. They need to go get what they want.”

Martinez won the NAIA national championship at 141 pounds back in 2013 and finished runner-up to his own teammate in 2014. He beat Myles Mazurkiewicz of Great Falls (Mont.), 5-2, two seasons ago before losing 2-1 to teammate Brandon Wright in 2014. That match was tied at 1-all but was decided on criteria and Wright’s 1 minute, 8 seconds of riding time was the deciding factor.

“The goal is to dominate and to try to win another title,” said Martinez of what he wants to accomplish in his final year at Grand View. “I want to win every match.”

Grand View has won three consecutive NAIA national team titles and scored an NAIA-tying 193 team points in 2014. The Vikings beat the next closest team by an NAIA-record 108 1/2 points.

“I have lived and done the dream like Gustavo, but shoot, I am old enough to be some of these kids’ grandpa,” said Mann, another Marshalltown graduate who went on to be a two-time national runner-up at Iowa State. “They don’t know me from anything. We wanted to bring in what is current and Gustavo is hot right now and still has another year left.”

Mann also credited Dave Wise for his work with the youth wrestling program. Wise helped put this camp together and spread the word the best he could.

As far as the camp being free, Mann said he was tired of all the camps that kids attended having to cost so much. And Martinez agreed, saying it was a good way for him to give back to his community.

“Growing up, I usually couldn’t really afford to pay for these kind of camps,” said the 2010 Marshalltown graduate. “Wrestlers charge a lot of money for camps and a lot of people have helped me so I could go to the camps like this. This is my way to give back what was given to me.”