The Marin family is one of the coolest wrestling families in SEI in my book. Nick and Josh. Both great wrestlers with a lot of fire and competitive drive out there. And they are both personable guys who have some of the most interesting insight about their careers and the sport itself. Great people.
Josh entered HS wrestling with a ton of pressure or I guess that was the case, with big shoes to follow considering his older brother was 2 time state champion, Nick Marin. There is a quote that he wrote to the question, “what is the most upset you ever felt after a loss?” that hit me in the feels so hard that it almost made me cry because I know exactly how he felt in the match he referred to. It’s when it was all over for him and it was official that he was not going to match his older brother’s accolades and he had the feeling that his legacy that he left behind was basically as just “Nick’s brother.” Wrestling can rip apart a person’s heart in a variety of ways from multiple angles and trust me when I say that being remembered by some people as simply being second fiddle to your brother (I occupied this role in my family with my brother Justin) is one of the worst forms of wrestling heartbreak. I hope people don’t think this of Josh and if they do, they really shouldn’t. Josh was a beast who was respected by all of the competitors that he faced from the standard guy to the elite caliber guys. Josh Marin was and still is Josh Marin and that is a great thing considering how much great stuff he showed out there. And he put his heart and soul into his answers for this, so I hope everyone has fun reading this article and can take something from it. On a couple personal notes, his story is one I felt I could personally relate to quite a bit and I am happy to learn that he is helping out at Iowa City High, for that’s where my brother’s (Justin) sons are wrestling and it’s great to hear that they get to workout with yet, another great coach like Josh. They have a great thing going there.
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
West Liberty Kids Club, Hawkeye Kids Wrestling Club, West Liberty High School, and Coe College.
What year did you graduate?
High school: 2008, College: 2013
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
Mostly my brother, Nick, but growing up in West Liberty at that time, wrestling was the sport in our town, so everyone was trying it.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.
My brother Nick, had some cousins and uncles from Wilton, had a couple cousins from Columbus Junction. My older brother Brian did junior high I believe, but not high schools. Currently my nephew Sam is doing some youth wrestling with Hard Drive, and my nephew Kale is wrestling at City High.
How did they do?
Only one that really did anything was Nick. He was a two-time state champ and one-time runner-up for West Liberty, then wrestled for a season up at UNI
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
Youth didn’t start out great for me. I didn’t start getting “good” until probably late middle school. Qualified for AAU state in 6th and 7th grade. Placed 4th in 8th grade. As for rivals, I had a lot of kids that I saw several times. Cory Depoorter, Drew Harney, JJ Wombacher, Colton Smith, Tyler Hardin, Marshall Koethe, Ryan Hand, Max Mayfield, Taylor Hammes, and at least a dozen others that I could probably list off. I wrestled a lot of tournaments and was hitting up at least 1-2 tournaments every weekend, so I saw a lot of different guys growing up.
What was your record in HS?
I couldn’t remember exactly what it was 100% but it was around 146-35 or so. Way too many losses in there for my liking
How did you place at state every year?
I qualified sophomore year and senior year, but didn’t place either year
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
One that comes to mind was during my senior year. I had gotten injured right around Christmas break, tearing the cartilage around my rib. Breathing was painful, moving was painful. It was a struggle for a few weeks. Missed the first few weeks of competition of the new year, but was determined to get things back on track. Started practicing through the pain, wearing a wrap around my body to keep my rib in place. Despite being in pain, struggling with the breathing, I basically forced myself back on the mat. First competition back, I was able to win my 4th straight Solon Invitational and continue my senior season.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I was very defensive on my feet, heavy hips and corner cutting. It took until late high school for me to start getting an offense. On the mat I was a leg rider on top and on bottom I was more of scrambler, going for Granby rolls and sit-outs, lots of clearing hips.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
The first one that comes to mind is Brandon Ball from Columbus Junction, I think I was 2-2 career with him. We really didn’t get along much in high school, but after being teammates at Coe and getting to know him better, I gained a lot of respect for him. Another one that I thought of was Lee Maxwell from Wilton. I lost two in a row to him, but ended up getting the win at sectionals junior year. The last one I could come up with was Zach Simpson from Lisbon. Was beating him the first time we wrestled and made a stupid mistake. Ended up getting myself pinned. Wrestled him two more times that season and ended up winning both of them.
Who was your most influential coach?
There are so many coaches that have made an impact on my career. I’d have to say the most influential would be my brother Nick. He got me started in the sport. Didn’t matter what level I was wrestling, he was always there if I needed to get an extra workout or needed some advice. Nick has always been there for me. He even stepped aside when he thought it was best. I also want to shout out some other coaches. Morgan Deprenger had a huge impact on my career not only as a competitor, but without him I probably wouldn’t have become a coach. John Oostendorp at Coe really knew how to inspire a room, he always had some speech to get us going and in that right mindset. Mitch Kelly, Jesse Lira, Pete Robles, Curt Diemer, Gene Nelson, Ian Alke, Brandon Hudson, Jeff Richardson, Aaron Griffith, Ruben Chavez, Aaron Ruiz, Kurt Simon, all really shaped me in my time at West Liberty. Brad Smith, Johnny Galloway Sr., Tom Mashek , Jason Payne, Bill Plein, Andy Milder, Gavin Hjerleid, Mark Reiland, Tony Brown, John Siegel, Dustin Hinschberger, Ted Drees, Marcus Kurtz, Eric Casey, Nick Cole, Pablo Ubasa all helped me out through my wrestling career. Also my dad was a coach from time to time throughout my career and I’d be wrong not to include him here. I’m sorry if I missed anyone else. And now, even as a coach I’m still learning all the time from Cory Connell, he teaches me new things all the time.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
In high school, we weren’t all that competitive. We went to regional duals a couple times, but our dual record was never that great. Although, my freshman year was the only time West Liberty qualified for state duals, despite a 15-15 dual record. In college we were a top ten team every year I was there.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Definitely my brother. It was one of those things where I wanted to be like him. Watching him growing up, I saw the success he had, and I wanted that feeling. He was the reason I even got into wrestling in the first place. Besides him, I was a huge Mark Perry fan, and of course, every Iowan who has ever stepped on the mat will say Dan Gable had some kind of influence on them.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler? Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
There are a lot of good options for this. I think I’m going to go with Jeff McGinness. Undefeated 4-timer, cadet and junior freestyle national titles, junior world title in freestyle
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
I listened to all kinds of stuff. Mostly rap and rock, but threw in a few other things to mix it up. But I was almost always listening to my headphones, just had to get myself in the mood to go to battle
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Toss up between losing my wrestle-back match at state my senior year of high school or losing the district finals my sophomore year. The first one it just hit me that it was over. I wasn’t going to place at state, in West Liberty Wrestling lore, I was going to be “Nick’s brother.” The other one was against Brandon Ball. I was up pretty handily after the first period, had him on his back for a long time, but couldn’t get the pin. Well, I gassed myself out trying to pin him. Ended up losing in OT, and was just so mad at myself that I let that slip away from me.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
I would be more focused. I had a bad habit of losing focus during my career. Whether it was other aspects in my life distracting me or it was pressure I put on myself just throwing me off my game, I really let my focus drift too much and it cost me a lot in my career, matches and potential.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
I guess making it to state a couple times, most career pins at West Liberty at the time (95 pins), wrestling in Fargo, or surviving 4 years of college wrestling all come to mind. Although becoming a coach and seeing my wrestlers succeed has kind of become my new favorite accomplishments.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
High school – Brandon Ball, Seth Noble, Jeret Chiri, Lee Maxwell, Evan Brown, Bret Kautz, Cody Stanley, Kile Beaver, Colton Smith, Micah Sheffield, so many others I can’t even remember them all.
College- Montell Marion, Nick Nothern, first two that come to mind
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Year round starting in junior high, by the time I was done with high school I was wrestling 5-6 days a week during the spring and summer in several different wrestling rooms. Ended up loving freestyle and Greco a lot. Made it to Fargo once in each style.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I’d say that good guys, no matter the era, are going to be good, and stack up against the best. TJ Sebolt, Matt McDonough, or Nate Moore is going to be amazing regardless of when they wrestled. But I will argue that we definitely had some amazing wrestlers during my time of competing.
Did you wrestle after high school?
Wrestled 4 years at Coe College in Cedar Rapids
What other sports did you play?
I did football in high school. Was voted 12th man by my team senior year, but never started or anything. Did average nine yards a carry as a fullback though. (One carry for nine yards is still nine yards a carry)
What are your favorite sports teams?
City High Little Hawks, Chicago Cubs, Dallas Cowboys, Coe Kohawks, Iowa Hawkeyes, West Liberty Comets
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Growing up, my hobbies were pretty varied. Everything from Boy Scouting (made it to Eagle Scout) to backyard wrestling to breakdancing (I was awful) to riding my bike. As I got older, I started to get into mixed martial arts, trained at Mexican Top Team (aka my brother’s garage), Fit2Live and Hard Drive MMA, and ended up with a 9-1 record. But too many concussions ended that hobby. Hobbies now include spending time with my family and friends, going to concerts and pro wrestling shows (when COVID doesn’t ruin those), and my brother is trying to get me to start doing mud runs with him, so we’ll see if that one becomes a hobby or not.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
Being able to give back through coaching is one of my favorite things in the world. To see my wrestlers grow and find their footing in the sport is just an amazing feeling. It makes me very proud to be able to pass my knowledge on and create more generations of wrestlers
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
It shaped me in a number of different ways. It made me a tougher individual. Tougher physically, tougher mentally. It made me a more positive person. I know I’ve felt my worst when I was tired, cutting weight, sick, hungry, thirsty, mentally broken, and still I could bounce back, so anything now that I could go through, I know it will end up fine. It taught me how to stand up for myself. Out on the mat, it is just you out there. Nobody to help you, you had to fight. I was a dorky kid (big glasses, loved pro wrestling and Pokemon), but wrestling helped me be a stronger individual and to be able to defend myself if needed. It made me a person who helps others. Wrestling is an individual sport, but you still have a team behind you. Guys who support you and vise versa. Though doing that on the mat and in the room, I learned that it’s beneficial to help others, beneficial to yourself mentally and spiritually, beneficial to whomever you’re helping, and beneficial to the team as a whole around you. So wrestling has shaped me in all different types of ways and all for the better in my opinion
What do you do now?
I currently work for the Iowa City Community School District. I’m a paraeducator and an assistant wrestling coach at City High, and then I am a painter for the school district during the summers.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Yes, I coach at City High in Iowa City
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Trust in the process. You don’t win championships overnight. It takes time and effort to get to that next level. It takes those extra workouts, it takes those repetitive technique sessions, it takes those sacrificed parties or summers putting in work, it takes a lot of time to get to your goals. But once you get your hand raised or you get that medal you’ll realize it was worth it.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
I’m not saying yes or no to this, but I will say, I’ll have to be able to fit in one of my old singlets first before I’ll do it, and they were mediums when I last competed
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
Shout out to all my wrestlers I’ve coached at City High, past and present. You guys make the gray hairs, late nights, and stress worth it for me. I’d also like to shout out the coaching staff there as well, Cory Connell and Morgan Deprenger especially. You guys brought me in, at a point when my life wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted it to be. I was dealing with my depression, at a job I hated, had been out of wrestling for a couple years at that point, and was just in a bad place. Never would have guessed how much better my life would be getting back into the sport. So thank you to all of you and the wrestling families as well. City has the best families that raise some great kids. Also would like to give a huge shoutout to my parents as well. They have been super supportive throughout my whole career as a competitor and into my career as a coach. Driving me across the country to tournaments growing up really helped me become as good as I could be. Plus I like that I’m in my thirties and my parents still come to my wrestling meets and tournament.
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
One story that gets told all the time from my high school days is about my buddy Cody. We were up at a dual tournament in New Hampton, and it was just a bad day. We weren’t wrestling well as a team at all. I think we just lost a dual and only won one match during it with a defensive pin. Our coach, Morgan Deprenger, was so mad that I don’t even think he yelled at us. We had a bye that round and we were just sulking in our locker room, feeling sorry for ourselves for the whooping we just took. Well Cody, who was our team goofball, saw a chalkboard and decided to use it to give us pep talk. He goes on this huge rant about how we need strength, technique, determination, and skills, and writes this on the board. He then decides to use an abbreviation for it. “We need STDS!” just shouting it over and over again. Our team is just dying laughing at this point, just falling over, until the coaches bust in. They are pissed. They had cooled down, until they came to talk to us and heard the laughter. Deprenger is fuming, starts ripping us a new one, telling us how we need to step up, and how we need to get our minds right. Cody at some point interjects that we again need strength, technique, determination, and skills. Deprenger goes with like that’s the best idea ever starts talking about those and goes on talking about how we need those to succeed and get back into it, and Cody let this go until Deprenger was all about it, and then Cody points to the abbreviation on the board. Deprenger stops mid sentence, turns, and just walks out. We didn’t know if he was pissed or trying not to laugh, but it was probably both. “STDS” still gets brought like once a year, like last week.