After more than a decade of martial arts and wrestling, Barrington junior Markus Hartman feels comfortable standing on any competitive mat. For his wrestling matches, further preparation and concentration comes with his regimen of Sun Salutation yoga.
“I’m not much of a music guy. I mostly think about my matches and ignore everything else. I just think about being alone,” Hartman says. “I’ll do a little bit of running to at least break a sweat, but I feel like it’s more of a mental thing. If I’m mentally ready, my body’s ready, and I’ll be ready either way.”
Hartman has put his mind toward becoming one of the top wrestlers in Barrington history.
In 2016, he earned top-six, all-state honors with fifth at 126 pounds at the Class 3A state tournament. He beat Grant’s Christian Kanzler 8-0 after losing to him at regionals and sectionals.
“Markus is a special kid. Guys like him don’t come along too often,” Barrington coach Dave Udchik says.
A cracked growth plate kept Hartman from state as a freshman, but others still took notice. He is already set to attend West Point and plans to pursue engineering.
“Army coach Kevin Ward is very good at kind of picking out guys he sees as being great one day,” Hartman said. “They kind of noticed me as a sophomore. I really find that respectful. They go after younger guys instead of somebody who has done something great.”
Hartman’s father, Eric, first introduced him to karate and Jiu-Jitsu. Classmates also were in wrestling and piqued Hartman’s interest in the sport at 6. Hartman joined the Barrington Broncos Wrestling Club (BBWC) and soon began competing year round. He was hooked after his first major victory as a 9-year-old, the ASICS USA Wrestling Kids Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
“It was definitely right then that I realized I’m pretty decent at this sport so I might as well stick with it,” Hartman says. “I also believe it’s the hardest sport out there. It’s a combat sport, different than football, baseball. It is a team sport but when you’re out there on the mat, it’s just you.”
Eric was Hartman’s coach from 7 until high school with the BBWC. Eric now coaches younger brother Jack, an eighth grader, and currently oversees the club’s finances.
Eric and mother Christina met in college but soon after graduation moved to Japan, where Eric studied martial arts. Christina is Chinese and was born in Vietnam, immigrating to the United States when she was 3.
With a gym in their basement, Hartman and his father often work out together.
“I’ve been doing (yoga) since about fifth grade. He introduced me to yoga and it’s kind of rubbed off in my matches,” Hartman says. “I would say it helps me out with that (mental) aspect of it.”
Before Hartman’s arrival, Barrington had four multiple all-staters who placed no more than twice. The last state champion was Wally Pollack in 1990. Halfway through a great freshman season, however, Hartman felt recurring pain in his right arm. After sitting out spells and even the Mid-Suburban League Meet, the pain worsened and the cracked growth plate was discovered just before regionals.
His 25-3 record included victories over two eventual all-staters.
“It was very disappointing in that I was expecting to at least make it downstate if not place and kind of get myself well known down there,” Hartman says.
This past season, Hartman moved to 145 pounds and passed 100 career victories in pursuit of the 143 school record. His only regular-season loss came to Montini junior Will Lewan, whom he’s wrestled since fourth grade and traveled with in July to the Junior and Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
Hartman was surprised to receive an additional role of team captain with two seniors, Alex Crook and Jake Cysewski.
“The kids see him working hard and want to follow suit. He’s really a leader by example,” Udchik says. “He trains year-round. He’s just committed to being a student of the game. He learns the latest technique. Like I tell everybody else, he’s really humble. If anybody could be cocky, it could be Markus, but he isn’t.”
“I’m not much of a showboat or anything,” Hartman responds. “What you do on the mat is what you do. After it’s over, you can just be friends.”
In preparation for West Point, Hartman has other great role models from his family. His great grandfather was in the Army Air Corps during World War II. His great uncle was a pilot in World War II and the Korean War.
“I’ve always looked up to them,” Hartman said. “I’ve always seen TV shows about the Navy Seals, Delta Force. It’s kind of been a goal of mine to eventually serve.”