home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 16, 2018

Isaiah Martinez

Zahid Valencia

Mark Hall

Vincenzo Joseph

Cleveland, Ohio

165 pounds

Q. Isaiah, against Marinelli, he's known as the bull, a physical type of wrestler. Did you need a match like that to prepare yourself for tomorrow night?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: I mean, yeah, yeah, I think so. But that usually comes in training, right, they put you in hard situations where guys aren't just going to play patty cake with you. He's a good wrestler, real good wrestler, good hand fighter, strong. Yeah, those matches are good, right. They remind you of how to grit things out.

Q. You've got Vincenzo Joseph in the finals. Did you want him, or did you not care who you got?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: Of course, I wanted him again in the finals. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter, like you said. But of course I want that matchup again. We did it at the Big Ten finals, now it's time to do it for real.

Q. There's a lot of freshmen getting to the NCAA finals. You were there at one point in your career. What's the difference now from being a freshman to a senior and in the same place going into the NCAA final?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: Those kids are way better than I was when I was a freshman. I'm not lying. Those kids are incredible. Like I can't believe -- even one entire class away, right, people were saying when I was a freshman, I can't believe how good he is. Like the four years above. And now I'm looking back, I'm like, man, they would have kicked my butt. Those guys are so good. Maybe wrestling is just elevating with more media and things like that, but those guys are phenomenal. I'm almost jealous because I'm like, how do they do that so young.

Q. Did you leave St. Louis angry or sad or upset last year?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: No, I'm never really upset with myself. I'm brutally honest, right. At the end of the day, I didn't deserve to win, right. Maybe if we would have wrestled that match ten times that same night, I would have won, but in my mind, even if I'm losing one of those matches, I didn't put in the proper work, I didn't deserve to win, and that's what happens when you don't just turn over every stone and try to make sure that there's no stone unturned. No, I wasn't mad at myself, just more honest self-evaluation. I need to be better. I need to work better.

Q. You wrestled Marinelli last year at Midlands. How much has he improved?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: He's gotten a lot stronger. More confidence than anything. Confidence is a huge deal. If you don't believe you can win, you're going to be giving up those easy points. I think he truly believed that he could win, right, if the circumstances were right. So that confidence boost, that strength with experience, he's probably about two or three takedowns better than the last time I wrestled him, and that's pretty tremendous where it's wrestling, where it's a game of milliseconds.

Q. Obviously bringing Mike Poeta this summer back to Champaign. What's that like to have a guy like that back in the room?
ISAIAH MARTINEZ: Oh, Mike is awesome. He just brings a new energy. He's kind of -- I don't know, I like his personality. He's kind of wiry. Like high energy, a little bit like me. So it just -- being a high-level competitor, I love when there's other high-level wrestlers in the room, so having Mike come in has been awesome. I didn't really know him very well when he first got in, first couple weeks were a little weird, he's telling me what to do, and I'm like, I don't know, maybe we should do this. But no, Mike has been awesome. We've really grown pretty close, and I'm happy he's a part of this program.

Q. 165 has been a stacked weight class the past few years. You've had very tough matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals both years. How do you stay mentally focused and keep winning those 2-1, 3-1 matches?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: Just staying calm and enjoying what you're doing. I know I say that a lot, but really, I enjoy it out there. Close matches are kind of fun. It would be a little more fun if it wasn't as close, but it's still fun, it's exciting for me being out there, being able to score whenever I can and prevent the other guy from scoring.

Q. Vincenzo, coming off of last year's NCAAs, you were sky high. Did the Big Tens take you back to earth?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: I think I've always been on earth. I've never been on a rocketship or anything like that. I get what you're saying. I'm just me most of the time anyway, so I really don't -- I do get emotional sometimes, but that comes with being a person. I'm sure you get emotional sometimes, too.

Q. You talked about after the quarterfinal win how you weren't really good at Fortnite. Have you gotten any better since the quarterfinals?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: I played about two games back at the hotel between sessions, and it did not go well for me. Hopefully I'll get back in the battle a little more tonight before the finals tomorrow.

Q. What's it like being a part of that murderer's row almost for Penn State where you're one after the next after the next?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: It's awesome. We love watching each other wrestle, which is probably the hardest part because if I'm out there watching Jason wrestle, I get a little too excited, and I'm sure same thing with Mark and Bo whenever we're all coming up. That's kind of the hardest part is not being able to watch your teammates, but it's fun to got out there and just win two matches in a row like that.

Q. Should we expect to see a match tomorrow night like we saw in the Big Ten finals?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: I guess we'll see. Whenever me and Isaiah wrestle, it's usually pretty exciting match, pretty offensive. We're both looking forward to it. We know it's going to be a good one, and we're just ready to put on a show.

Q. Are you more prepared to see Isaiah, or would you have rather went up against Marinelli?
VINCENZO JOSEPH: It doesn't matter really. They're both really good wrestlers, and I'm just excited for Isaiah as I would be for Alex Marinelli. They're both really good guys, and I guess a rematch is pretty fun, too. Everyone wants to see a rematch.


Q. A year ago a lot was made of you guys going 5 for 5 in the finals. You guys are now 4 for 4. What does that mean to you guys as a team, as you're chasing and probably passing Ohio State right now.
MARK HALL: I ain't going to speak for my teammates, I'll speak for myself. I'm just doing my job, go out there and give my best effort, and that's what we'll all do every time. There's consistency. There's just -- the majority of us just really want to compete our best and wrestle our hardest, and whatever that entails, whatever happens out of that is what happens. We just control what we can control.

Q. You showed a lot of emotion out there, perhaps more than in the past. Did you come into this tournament a little angry that perhaps you should have been seeded No. 1, or was that All-Star match with Valencia way too much on the seeding?
MARK HALL: You know Coach Gail was on the seeding committee. He has the utmost faith in us, and I have a hard time not being seeded No. 1, but whatever they were thinking, whatever was going through their heads, I wasn't, and you know what, it's just a number by your name.

Q. (Indiscernible).
MARK HALL: I was a little flustered. I wouldn't call it upset. I didn't lose sleep over it. I knew if I come in here I've got one-sided match anyways, so whatever that means -- like I said, it's just a number by my name. Last year I came in seeded fifth, so what does it matter.

Q. You've never wrestled Daniel before in folkstyle at the NCAA tournament. What kind of feel did he give you?
MARK HALL: I'll be honest, I thought he was going to break my leg that first shot. He had a very tight hold on my ankle, and that's how you're supposed to do it. He did everything right. I'm not saying he's a dirty wrestler, he's not. But that hold on my leg is something I haven't really felt before, and yeah, it was freaking tight. If I didn't shoot my leg over the top, I thought I was going to give up two. I was ready to get up two. But yeah, if I didn't shoot my leg over the top, I was afraid he was going to break my leg.

But other than that, I just kept coming, kept solid, and that's what -- I do that with anyone. It wasn't anything different. I've got to go up, wrestle my match and just compete as hard as I can.

Q. It's such a huge swing now in these things, I don't know if you've noticed, but you guys have almost a 20-point lead. Can you just take me through -- you guys are understanding what's going to happen out there, but if things were worked out you could go five for five again like you did last year, and Ohio State started 0 and 4, and they have their two heavies going later. But it looks like you're going to have a pretty good advantage going into tomorrow. Can you take me through what you guys are talking about, and are you talking about the team standings going into this round?
MARK HALL: I'll be honest with you, it's not really a team race to me. I'm in an individual race, and I think all four of those guys would tell you the same thing. All nine of us.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
MARK HALL: Not really. As weird as that may sound, it might sound like I'm lying, just trying to be a face up here, but I mean, really, you start to think about the team race and you lose sight of what is important to you and what is my goal coming here. My goal is to win master's championship and team championship, and for us to win a team championship, I've got to get my first goal. I got my goals on sight. I know what I'm looking for. And outside of that, I mean, like I said, it's just control what I can control. I can't control the other eight guys that came. So we just came here, wrestled our hardest.

Q. You obviously know what happened in last year's semifinals. When you're down 4-1, does any of that stuff ever hold over, or how do you keep your mind straight?
ZAHID VALENCIA: For me, I think I was in the back of my head, this semifinals is where I lost last year. I thought about it a little bit, but when I was down 4-1, I just knew I practiced this in the wrestling room. My coach held me down one, two, three, to like six points down, and I had to find a way to win. I think I was pretty composed and used to the situation.

Q. You've wrestled in so many huge matches throughout the world, but to get to this goal?
ZAHID VALENCIA: For me it's exciting. Ever since I was a little kid, it was always win four D1 titles, go undefeated. Obviously I came a little short, but it's still great being my first national championship. I'm just ready to leave it all out there, and it's going to be a fun match.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit more about that match with Mark last year? Did you leave here angry, upset, and you were teammates on the junior world team, do you guys ever talk about that match?
ZAHID VALENCIA: No, not specifically about the match. We're still great friends. We've been wrestling each other since we were eight years old. I mean, we both know what happened, but it was a fun match. I know he did not want to win that way. But we get another rematch in the finals. I know I'm going to leave it all out there, and he usually always does, so I think it's going to be pretty exciting for the fans.

Q. Talk about the adjustments you made in the semis, down early. You've been beaten multiple times. What did you have to do to claw yourself back in there?
ZAHID VALENCIA: Yeah, I mean, wrestling a guy -- this will be my fifth time, so he's going to scout you, figure you out. I think I went out there 100 percent, but I took some clumsy shots, just trying to score as many points as I can, and he was able to counter and get some points off it. But I just stayed composed. It's still the first period. I had a lot of wrestling left to do, I didn't want to do any high fly moves. I knew if I did takedown after takedown, I could come back, so that's what I did.

Q. Do you think the NCAA should require you to wear headgear?
ZAHID VALENCIA: I mean, I don't like it. I think 95 percent of the wrestlers would say to make it optional. If you want to wear it, you can, but for the most part, I don't think you should be -- it should be like mandatory. I barely wear it in the wrestling room. I think most kids don't wear it in the wrestling room, but to have to wear it in a match, I think it's kind of silly.

Q. How did you reset after that first review? Did it creep into the back of your mind losing a review again?
ZAHID VALENCIA: I mean, after that review, you lose it, you have to just stay calm. Sometimes the fans can get you over-hyped and you start draining your energy, so for me it's just staying calm and making sure I get the next point.

Q. When you have so much history with someone, whether it be in the semis or in the finals, how much does that apply to it? Is it the last recent match, or how much does that history change --
ZAHID VALENCIA: I mean, we have a lot of history. We know what we did. At times it could seem that we're a little overcautious knowing that we're going to get stuck by his defensive stuff. But it's the last match of the season, so I'm looking forward to leaving it all out there and scoring as many points as I can, and I think for both of us, it's going to be a lot of fun.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297