Robert Magobet, Lakeland Ledger

It was the moment of all moments for the family of George Jenkins girls’ wrestler Mia Martinez.

Martinez (46 KG), who missed FHSAA state competition by finishing up her 2023 wrestling year in the blood round in regionals, used a series of blast doubles within the last 30 seconds to win 10-0 in a technical fall in 37 seconds against a Brazilian opponent, earning a bronze medal at the U15 American Championships for the Puerto Rican team, which is her first medal as a member of the Puerto Rican team. Martinez went 3-1 overall in the tournament.

Martinez’ family, including her father and mother from Puerto Rico, all swarmed the junior wrestler with tears of joy inside of a venue in Panama City, Panama, a city she flew to last Wednesday. This was something that her father always wanted for his daughter. It was a sense of Puerto Rican pride.

“It feels really good. I’m super proud of myself,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t expecting a lot from it, but now I know I can do a lot more and I can accomplish a lot of things this upcoming season.”

This is all possible if Martinez follows the template she used ahead of the huge tourney that transpired Nov. 24-26. The promising George Jenkins wrestler worked arduously to cut her weight, eventually dropping to 44.5 KG in an effort to make the 46 KG mark.

“I was super proud of myself of doing that and I managed to make weight, and everything was just exciting. And I was nervous,” Martinez said. “I had ups and downs during the matches, but I managed to get out of those.”

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She was resilient because the extra motivation stemmed from how her father always wanted Martinez to represent Puerto Rico athletics in some fashion. Martinez’s mother and father moved from Puerto Rico in 2015 with Martinez. And since nobody in the family has ever represented Puerto Rico in athletics, Martinez father wanted someday for his daughter to represent the hometown.

She finally got the chance just after Thanksgiving 2023.

“I did It for him. And I did it to prove myself to everybody who doubted me … to show that I can actually be great and continue doing this sport,” Martinez said.

Still, this is over and done with, and wrestling season is on the horizon. Martinez is looking to take this momentum into the 2023-24 wrestling season.

“If I can put my mind to it, I can accomplish many things. This year I plan on doing states; I plan on placing,” Martinez said.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: George Jenkins’ Mia Martinez wins bronze in wrestling nationals