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Hidden Gems of Idaho Prep Wrestling: Matthew Martino, BK
Al Fontes shines the spotlight on Idaho wrestling's hidden gems
Published: 5/11/2022 8:47:28 AM
Al Fontes
Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of Reggie Baca

Welcome back to the HIDDEN GEMS of Idaho Prep Wrestling! Once again, my goal for the HIDDEN GEM series is to not only highlight, but to take a closer look at the top tier underclassman in the state of Idaho.

This series will feature a cadre of Idaho’s elite underclassman that have not only made their mark on the state and national scene, but are currently low on the national ranking radar, yet have great potential to break the barrier of the top 10 or 15 ranking in the years to come.

My first HIDDEN GEM mat chat interview (Q&A) was with 2x State Champion Jason Mara of Meridian High School and is followed by frosh standout Matthew Martino of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Chris, Matthew wasted no time and began his mat career at the young age of 4. Just completing his first season at Bishop Kelly, Matthew has had an exceptional mat career to this point and is on trajectory to match, if not surpass his older brother’s outstanding prep accomplishments.

The list is very long, but to date, Chris has won or placed at several age group state and national level competitions, earned a combined six All-American honors at the Fargo and Folkstyle Nationals (16U/Junior levels), and recently became the fifth wrestler in the state 4A division to win four individual state titles (Michael Cook of Kuna became the first from 2011 – ’14).

Having had the opportunity to sit down and conduct a mat chat interview with Matthew, I was not only impressed with his sense of maturity, but his vision and outlook in life for such a young age.

Matthew’s journey in the sport of wrestling began when his parents first introduced the sport to his older brother Chris when he was approximately five years of age (Matthew was 2 years old at the time). Attending weekly practices at the Idaho Rattlers Wrestling Club in Meridian and participating in local competitions was the norm for the Martino family for several years.

Considering that Matthew had accompanied his parents and brother to all of the practices and competitions coupled with the influence of their grandfather, an experienced wrestler with an extensive competitive career, it was inevitable that he would follow in his brother’s footsteps and give the sport at least a try. That is exactly what he did when he turned 4 and to this date has not taken much of a break since.

From the early days of his kid’s level competitions, Matthew showed a lot of potential by placing at numerous local and state level tournaments. As he progressed through the age group divisions, Matthew was beginning to show signs that he was on the same trajectory as his older brother when he began winning not only multiple state and regional Freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments, but a series of individual titles at the USAW Kids National Championships during his elementary and middle school years.

Transitioning from one level to another has its challenges and obstacles that one must face. Among the most common obstacles wrestlers often face when climbing the ladder of age group competitions is the increase in wrestling aptitude among the pool of competitors, as well as the physical and mental maturity required to sustain at the next level.

Throughout his journey, Matthew has done an outstanding job adapting to the challenges that came his way, as well as obstacles he had to conquer while climbing the ladder of age group competitions. More recently, his transition from the kids level to the 16U division has gone very well with several noteworthy performances in the process.

The leading indicator that Matthew remains on the same trajectory as his brother, and possibly even further, is with the recent surge in his national level accolades earned during the past couple of years. For instance, Matthew has earned titles at the United World Wrestling (UWW) World Team trials in Greco, Folkstyle Nationals (16U), and was a finalists at the 2021 Fargo National Championships in the 16U division.

Additionally, Matthew earned a trip to the 15U Pan American Games where he earned a Gold medal in both the Freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions, as well as the Outstanding Wrestler Award. All this occurred prior to his freshman season at Bishop Kelly.

Entering the high school ranks with the total number of state and national level accolades to his credit, Matthew was not your average wrestler. With his extensive experience, coupled by the support from his family, coaches, and the example given to him by his brother, Matthew’s wrestling aptitude far surpassed the norm of the average wrestler entering the high school level.

Despite the possibilities of any increased pressure to meet or even exceed expectations, Matthew did not let this challenge deter him from having a stellar freshman season.

Nevertheless, his first journey at the high school level did not take place without a few obstacles in the way. Early in the season, Matthew and his brother traveled to Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to participate in what is considered the nation’s toughest high school tournament in the country, the Walsh Ironman Invitational. In short, this tournament features the top tier wrestlers and teams from across the country and has had many continue on to achieve great success at the NCAA, World, and Olympic levels.

Although his brother had battled to a hard-fought 6th place at 132s, Matthew finished the tournament with a 2-2 record and did not place in a highly competitive 113 pound weight group. Regardless, Matthew learned from this experience, made the necessary adjustments to increase his wrestling aptitude, and moved forward.


“Matthew is an outstanding wrestler. As a freshman, he immediately brings a high level of wrestling in the practice room and makes everyone better. He is going to be an awesome leader for our team!”

                           - Manny Ybarra, Head Coach, Bishop Kelly H.S.


For the remainder of the season, Matthew performed very well in both dual and tournament competitions within the Idaho region with one of his notable tournament titles being the Rollie Lane Invitational, which featured Idaho’s best and other talented wrestlers from a few of the Western states.

By season’s end, Matthew had established himself as the top 113 pound wrestler in the state and finished the year by earning titles at the District III and State Championships in the 4A division.

In the off-season, he recently earned his second All-American honor in the 16U division at the USAW Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa, but came up short of placing at the USMC US Open held in Las Vegas.

Competing in the 17U division in both Freestyle and Greco, he reached the quarter-finals in Greco, but came up short of placing in either style.

Moving forward, Matthew responded by scoring a total of 58 points to his opponents 3 points to win both styles in the 16U division at the Idaho State tournament, the qualifier for the Fargo Nationals being held this July at the Fargo Dome in North Dakota.

Off the mat, Matthew is an exceptional student and currently maintains a 4.0 grade point average and enjoys the academic challenges that Bishop Kelly provides him. For example, he is already enrolled in pre-calculus courses with the intention of entering the Advanced Placement Program beginning next year.

Additionally, his brother Chris has recently committed to attend one of the nation’s top Ivy League schools, Princeton University, and will join the wrestling program this fall. Princeton recently sent six wrestlers to the 2022 NCAA Division I Championships with two reaching the championship finals and earning All-American honors.

In summary, Matthew Martino has had a very successful mat and academic career to this point. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Matthew is definitely on track to at least meet what his brother has achieved both academically and on the mat at the high school level. His hard work and commitment to excel both on and off the mat speaks volumes and is a true testament to his character, leadership qualities, and perseverance in the midst of challenges that come his way.

To date, the state of Idaho has only had two sets of brothers win four state titles each (includes the 5A, 4A, 3A, and 2A divisions). They include the Lawrence Brothers, Brett and Jared, of Sandpoint High School (1993-’98) and more recently the Rice Brothers, Joe and Kyle, of New Plymouth High School (2015 – ’22).

With brother Chris winning his fourth title this year and Matthew winning his first as a freshman, he is in position to match his brother and join a very rare club. Having won several national level competitions and earning multiple All-American honors among many other notable accolades to his credit, Matthew is definitely a HIDDEN GEM to watch in the state of Idaho and has a bright future. I had the opportunity to sit down with Matthew and discuss his wrestling experience, academics, and his future outlook in life. Below is my Q&A interview with Matthew.

Q&A WITH MATTHEW MARTINO

How did you first get involved in the sport of wrestling?

My parents introduced wrestling to my older brother, Chris, when he was around four or five years old. I followed in his footsteps a few years later when I was about four. We both practiced and competed for the Idaho Rattlers Wrestling Club in Meridian.

Who has been your biggest influence in the sport?

My brother. He has taught me how to be competitive, both on and off the mat...how to train and develop a good work ethic. I want to follow in his footsteps and achieve what he has and more.

Heading into your Sophomore season, what are your short and long term goals at Bishop Kelly?

My short term goal is to be competitive at any weight I compete in. My long term goal is to win four individual state titles and be on the state podium as a team…to lead Bishop Kelly to a top three finish at the state championships.

Describe your academic and wrestling experience at Bishop Kelly.

Bishop Kelly is among the top academic schools in the state. I feel challenged in all my advanced courses…Pre-Calculus being one of them. The coaching staff at Bishop is great. They encourage us to work hard and push our limits…to follow our dreams and achieve all our goals.

Having had some great success at this point in your wrestling career, describe your training routine and your outlook for the years ahead.

During the regular season, I train throughout the entire week, except during days of competition. In the off-season, I usually train Monday thru Friday. My goal moving forward is to make the most of my time and to train smarter and more efficiently.

Do you have ambitions of competing in college or international competition?

Yes, I want to compete in college at a Division I school.

For the past several years, the state of Idaho has had success at the Folkstyle and Fargo Nationals. Being a member of the national teams that recently won back-to-back Folkstyle National team titles and produced a state record 24 All-Americans in Fargo last summer, where do you see Idaho wrestling in the next ten years?

We have a lot of room for growth, but I see a lot potential in the future.

Is there an Olympian, collegiate level wrestler, Coach or someone outside of the sport of wrestling that you want to aspire to be someday?

I look up to the coaches at Meridian High School – the Muri Brothers, Brad and Jon. They do a great job balancing work, family, and coaching wrestling.

What life lessons have you learned in wrestling that applies in your day-to-day life?

Work ethic and being competitive. Wrestling is the toughest sport in the world.

Do you have a saying or philosophy that you live by?

What you put into life is what I get in return.

What advice would you give a young wrestler wanting to be successful in the sport of wrestling or in life?

You have to put in the hard work to be successful. Never take short cuts.

What are your academic goals?

Maintain a 4.0 GPA all four years and to become a National Merit Scholar.

Outside the sport of wrestling, what other goals do you have in life?

To earn a college degree and get a job in the medical field.

Once you are done competing, do you have plans to stay involved with wrestling?

I plan to be involved in wrestling in some form…likely become a volunteer coach in my community.

What hobbies and family functions do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy bird hunting, fly fishing, and spending time with my family and friends.


MATTHEW MARTINO’S ACADEMIC AND ATHLETIC PROFILE

SCHOOL: Bishop Kelly High School (4A Division)
GRADE: 9 (Class of 2025)
WEIGHT: 120

 ACADEMIC ACCOLADES

  • 4.0 GPA

 WRESTLING ACCOLADES

  • 4A Idaho State Champion ’22
  • District III (4A) Champion ‘22
  • USAW Folkstyle All-American (16U) ‘22
  • Idaho State Greco-Roman Champion (16U) ‘22
  • Idaho State Freestyle Champion (16U) ‘22
  • Rollie Lane Invitational Champion ‘22
  • PAN AM GAMES – Double Gold Medalist – FS/GR (15U) ’21 *OW
  • Idaho Triple Crown Winner ’21
  • Fargo Greco All-American/Finalist (16U) ‘21
  • USAW Folkstyle National Champion (16U) ‘21
  • UWW World Team Trials Greco Champion (15U) ‘21
  • Western Regional Champion – Greco-Roman (16U) ‘21
  • Western Regional Freestyle Championships – 2nd Place (16U) ‘21
  • Idaho State Freestyle Champion (16U) ‘21
  • Idaho State Greco Champion (16U) ‘21
  • Idaho Folkstyle State Champion ’21


    PREVIOUS HIDDEN GEM Q AND A'S:

    Jason Mara, Meridian
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