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December 8, 2022

Falcons wrestlers excel at USA nationals

Kayse Martinovsky, Danica Kelley stay busy during offseason

For some kids, the summer break is meant for trips to the beach or perhaps a vacation to the next hot destination. 

Scotts Valley High juniors Kayse Martinovsky and Danica Kelley recently went on a trip to the midwest but there was hardly any time for them to relax.

The Falcons wrestling duo competed against some of the best the nation has to offer at the 2022 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota on July 15-22.  

Martinovsky said it was awesome to get to know everyone and be part of a team made up of the best women wrestlers from throughout the state. 

She also mentioned it was great to experience different styles from around the nation. 

“In New Jersey, it’ll be super cool, like they have their own funk, and Montana or somewhere else will have something completely different,” Martinovsky said.

Martinovsky along with Kelley and the rest of the California women’s squad cheered and chanted “California Girls” after winning the Juniors Division championship. 

They were on a team with 81 women from California that competed in both the Juniors (18U) and Cadets (16U) divisions.

Kelley said it was a cool experience being able to travel for a wrestling tournament, something that was different for her. 

She also mentioned having the nation’s best wrestlers under one roof was intimidating. 

“To think, those are the best people from each state, the best people from the whole nation coming to fight, that was the intimidating part for me,” she said. 

Kelley wrestled in both the Juniors and Cadets divisions at 127 pounds. She finished with a 6-4 overall record—Juniors (4-2) and Cadets (2-2)—and won all six matches by pinning her opponents.

“I was a little bit disappointed because so many people had put in a ton of work with me beforehand,” she said. “I had done six weeks of training and there were a lot of things that I could’ve done better.” 

Still, she was happy with her overall performance and the experience, especially because it was Kelley’s first time competing in the grand tournament.

Martinovsky competed in the Cadetes Division in the 138-pound class. 

She won her first match but then she suffered a concussion in the second match, which she lost. 

By the third match, the injury took a toll on her because physically she wasn’t there and it played into her mental state. 

“I was more worried about my concussion than wrestling at that moment,” she said. “So it definitely affected me mentally.”  

Martinovsky said the Central Coast Section or CIF State championships are nothing compared to what she experienced at nationals, which is considered the biggest wrestling tournament in the world.   

Martinovsky walked into the FargoDome and at first, it looked like any of the arenas that she’s been to before. That was until she saw the floor and arena that featured 27 mats.

“It was so cramped, it was insane,” she said.

Martinovsky mentioned it was a little overwhelming when they first got to the arena. But her demeanor quickly changed on the day of the competition.

“For a lot of big tournaments I tend to feel super nervous, anxious about how I’m going to perform,” she said. “At that moment, I just knew I was prepared for this and I’ve been training all of my summer for this and I’m ready.” 

Before heading out to Fargo, both Falcons wrestlers had to attend a camp with Team California at the DoubleTree Hilton in Fresno.

The wrestlers had to wake up at 6am for a morning run followed by three practice sessions. 

“It was intense but it was super fun,” Martinovsky said.

Martinovsky said competing in the offseason has given her more consistency because there were summers where she didn’t focus on training as hard.

She joined Live Oak Wrestling with longtime wrestling coach Jay Reyes. Since then she feels like having practiced multiple times a week helped her stay in the groove and in shape. 

“It helps me improve my craft,” she said.  

Kelley said the offseason has shown her what tournaments she needs to be attending during the Falcons’ regular season. Then there are also the holes that she needs to fix up. 

She also noticed a lot of the girls that have more experience at Nationals won’t focus specifically on folkstyle as much freestyle.

“I’m going to kind of take that into this season,” Kelley said. “Not focusing on my performance as much from a record standpoint but more from what holes am I fixing up to get ready for freestyle and where am I going.”

Kelley said the thing she loves the most about wrestling is how challenging it can be.

“I feel like if I just stop competing at wrestling I wouldn’t be able to live with myself anymore,” she said. “It’s not as dramatic as it sounds but you get this rush of dopamine after winning and you gotta kind of have to ride the lows of losses, but it’s all worth it.”

Martinovsky started in Taekwondo at the age of 5 before she got into wrestling in sixth grade.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “There’s just something about it that I just love. I can’t even describe it … But I don’t think that I would enjoy it as much if I didn’t have Danica because we’ve gone everywhere together from CCS to now the nationals. It’s definitely nice to have her, my partner in crime.”

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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