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Shannon Brownlee
March 20, 1989
The two leadoff wrestlers for Penn State may be small, but they're no lightweights
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March 20, 1989

A Bruising And Brainy Twosome

The two leadoff wrestlers for Penn State may be small, but they're no lightweights

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That technique was on display in last year's NCAA finals when Martin, who was suffering from a bruised knee and a cracked rib, came up against heavily favored champion Brad Penrith, of Iowa. With the score 4-0 against him, Martin started the third period in the down position and struggled for almost a minute before pulling off a reversal and near fall. That meant each wrestler had four points, but when riding time was factored in, Martin was the winner.

Martin is such a paragon—he doesn't drink, he's a devout Christian and is active in several programs for disadvantaged children—that a medical school interviewer looking at his records was prompted to ask him if he walked on water. Though that remark might attribute miraculous talents to Martin, the best explanation for his almost perfect academic record is plain hard work. For the past four years, his schedule has included heading to the library every night after practice to study for four or five hours until closing time. "He never eats a meal without a book in front of him," says his roommate, Brian Campbell, who wrestles for Penn State at 158 pounds. "He once told me he hated to sleep because it was a waste of time."

Chertow, who, like Martin, is the son of a physician, doesn't have Martin's self-discipline—most emphatically not in his dietary habits. One recent dinner for Chertow, for example, consisted of a pint of Gatorade, two frozen yogurt cones—pi�a colada and strawberry cheesecake—a banana, a swig of lemon-lime diet soda, an apple and a can of Diet Pepsi. Even Chertow's study habits tend toward the haphazard in comparison; he's been known to cram for tests by flashlight in the van bringing the Nittany Lions home from an out-of-town meet.

There's apparently some method to Chertow's madness, though: In his second year at Penn State, when he was redshirted because of a dislocated elbow, he got such high test scores he wrecked the curve in his physics and genetics classes. "That was a good feeling," he says. "After that I knew I could do anything I set my mind to."

Chertow's nickname is Hawk, short for Henery Hawk, the feisty cartoon character who takes on Foghorn Leghorn, a rooster 10 times his size. It's a fitting sobriquet. Last year, Chertow figured that his best shot to make the Olympic team was to beat Joe Gonzales, who is one of the country's best freestyle technicians and had been a 1984 Olympian at 114.5 pounds. Chertow sweated off 12 pounds to make the 114.5 limit and then eliminated Gonzales 8-6, 13-7 at the trials to earn an Olympic berth. Unfortunately, the Hawk had to wrestle Valentin Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the third round in Seoul and was eliminated before the medal round.

Come fall, Martin and Chertow will be in medical school, though both hope to continue wrestling. Chertow has applied to Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Marshall, and he has already been accepted at West Virginia University. All four medical schools will allow him to continue coaching youngsters and to train for the 1992 Olympics. Martin is undecided between studying at Penn State or Penn. "My dad says medical school will be a lot easier once I stop wrestling," Martin says. "I don't really believe him, though."

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. One thing is for certain: Penn State assistant coach Hachiro Oishi could have been speaking for more than just the Nittany Lions when he asked Martin's mother, "Can't you make any more like him?"

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