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Preston Martin, a Paola High School senior, signs a national letter of intent to wrestle and pole vault for the Cornell College Rams during a ceremony in Paola on Thursday, Jan. 9. Pictured with Preston are his parents, Debbie and Brett.

PAOLA — Preston Martin, a state champion wrestler and state pole vault medalist, signed a national letter of intent to compete for the Cornell College Rams in Iowa

Martin, a Paola senior, signed the letter in front of family and friends in the Paola High School commons on Thursday, Jan. 9.

“It is awesome, just to be able to continue the sports I love,” Martin said. “It is insane to be signing for two sports.”

Martin is a three-time state champion wrestler for the Paola Panthers. He had been planning on signing for wrestling.

When the opportunity to compete in track and field was also offered at Cornell, Martin jumped at the chance.

He is a three-year letter winner on the Paola track and field team. He qualified for state in the pole vault last year, placing sixth in the state for a medal.

He was not even looking at Cornell. They found him, Martin said.

“They were not even on my radar,” he said. “I was on a college visit at a school near them. I went to a wrestling combine in the area and Cornell was there.

“I went to Cornell for a college visit and as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew this was where I wanted to go,” Martin said.

He has competed in the Frontier League in wrestling and track and field. Martin has also been tested in Class 4A regional and state events.

“There is a lot of good competition in Kansas in wrestling and track and field,” he said. “We see some pretty good competition in our league, regional and state.”

His teammates have also pushed him to be the best he can be, Martin said.

“I have some really good practice partners in the wrestling room,” he said. “They have really stuck it out and helped me prepare.”

Signing early is one more thing off his checklist, Martin said.

“Signing now takes a lot of stress off,” he said. “Now, I can just go out there and concentrate on wrestling and the pole vault. I don’t have to worry about where I am going or how my performance might affect that.”

Martin has already won more than 100 matches in his high school career. Martin is 119-8 in his first three seasons with the Panthers.

Martin was 42-3 his junior season, capturing the 126-pound state title. He was 42-2 as a sophomore, winning the state title at 113 pounds. As a freshman, Martin was 35-3, going 4-0 at state to win his first championship at 106 pounds.

He cleared 13 feet for sixth place in the Class 4A state track and field meet, bringing home a medal for the Panthers. Martin was runner-up in the regional meet at Panthers Stadium as Paola captured the team title.

Martin was joined by his wrestling teammates for the signing, who all posed for a group picture with him. He also took pictures with his track and field teammates.

There were pictures with his parents, Brett and Debbie Martin, during the signing. He had another large picture with his family.

Coaches from throughout his career were also on hand for pictures and to offer their congratulations. Joining him for the event were Paola Panther wrestling coaches Darvin Willard and Tony Brummer and Paola Kids Wrestling Club coaches Joe Knecht and Brett Martin.

His grandparents Kevin and Sudawn Bradley and Robin and Ricky Allen were also at the signing.

Preston plans on majoring in computer science.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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