PARK CITY, Kan. — It was a tough day Friday for the Eastern Oregon University men’s wrestling team, which saw all six of its competitors at the NAIA national tournament leave short of earning an all-American nod, though two finished one win shy, losing in the “blood round.”
Both Noel Orozco (285 pounds) and Marco Retano (184) reached the fourth round of the consolation bracket, and one win from a top-eight finish and an all-American bid. There, though, both suffered heartbreaking losses.
Orozco and Graceland (Iowa) senior Shawn Beeson, the third seed at 285, were tied 1-1 after seven minutes of wrestling and forced to go into overtime. There, Beeson scored an escape in the second overtime round to go ahead 2-1, and in the third scored a four-point near-fall to earn a 6-1 victory.
The loss brought an end to Orozco’s national run at 2-2. He had dropped his opening round match to second-ranked and eventual runner-up Tanner Farmer of Concordia (Nebraska) by a 6-0 decision, but then earned two wins in a row — a win by fall in overtime against Missouri Valley’s Joshua Isaac and a 7-4 decision over Gage Johnson of Oklahoma City, a match in which he grabbed an early 4-1 lead and never trailed.
Retano suffered a third-round loss by fall to Kendrick Jones of Grand View (Iowa) in his opening match, then received a double-bye into a consolation round-match against Jeremiah Smith of Life Pacific (California), which he won in overtime with a takedown for a 6-4 sudden victory.
His all-American hopes, though, were dashed by Antonio Stewart of Reinhardt (Georgia) who used first-round and third-round takedowns on his way to a 6-0 decision.
Keegan Mulhill (174) and Ryan Redford (197) were the only two Mountaineers to win their first matches. Mulhill, seeded seventh, scored an early takedown and near-fall for a 4-0 lead on the way to a 7-0 decision over Logan Bowen of Saint Mary (Kansas), then lost by fall to Mahlic Sallah of Campbellsville (Kentucky). The two were tied at 3-3 in the final seconds of the match before Sallah scored a takedown and registered the pin with three seconds to go.
In the consolation round, Mulhill opened with a 6-3 decision over Blake Castillo of Concordia, scoring a takedown in the first and third rounds to push him to the win, but was knocked out by a 7-4 loss to Sam Osho of Marian (Indiana).
Redford, meanwhile, notched two third-round takedowns to secure a 7-2 decision over Jacob Henderson of Reinhardt, but lost by fall to Ramsey Bloy of Cumberlands (Kentucky) in a match that saw Bloy score four takedowns. Redford recovered to defeat James Caniglia of Thomas More (Kentucky) by fall in the third round of a high-scoring bout. Redford had four takedowns and two four-point near-falls on his way to building a 19-9 lead before finishing with the pin. He was bounced, though, by Southeastern (Florida) wrestler Blake Rypel by fall.
Josh Pine (165) and Blake McNall (141) both were eliminated in two matches. Pine dropped a close 4-0 decision to eventual national champion Brennan Swafford of Graceland in his first match, then nearly staged a miraculous comeback in his match against Jerrod Mullins of Rochester (Michigan) before losing 15-12. Pine was down 12-0 after two rounds, and 14-0 early in the third. But he scored a reversal to get on the board then earned two four-point near-falls and a two-point near-fall to get as close as 14-12.
McNall opened with a 6-3 loss to Reinhardt’s Trent Leon then fell to Jaime Mullins of Dickinson State (North Dakota) by a 10-4 decision. McNall led 4-3 after two rounds, but Mullins scored seven points in the third to earn the win.
EOU as a team placed 28th.