Wrestlers close out season at National tournament
A Gator wrestling trio said goodbye to the 2014-2015 season after placing 39th overall among the 48 teams competing in day one of the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships March 13 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mats covered the wooden floors of the Chaiftez Arena, as the Gator wrestling trio Andrew Reggi, Jordan Gurrola and Johnny Costa prepared to face off against some of the top wrestlers and nation-ranked teams.
“We were really focused and I thought we wrestled pretty well,” said wrestling head coach Lars Jensen. “It was a very tough tournament. We were a couple points away from having two All-Americans.”
Fourth-year Reggi, who made an appearance at Nationals for the second consecutive year, started the tournament for SF State with a matchup against seventh-ranked in the nation Jake Cramer of Tiffin University. The 197-pound Gator fell short with a 9-0 decision but came back to win by fall against Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania’s Jalei Page.
Reggi ended his SF State career with a nail-biting 6-5 loss against the nation’s top wrestler, Sam Mangum.
“I felt like I underestimated my opponent,” Reggi said. “I’m going to miss it. I love the program, my teammates, my coaches and I don’t regret anything.”
Gator wrestler Gurrola, who entered the tournament as the sixth-ranked in the nation, lost his first match at Nationals with a 9-7 decision to Minnesota State-Moorhead’s Blake Bosch. Gurrola came back to the mat with another loss to Long Island University Post’s Joseph Calderon.
Gurrola ended his breakout sophomore season with a 29-12 record, which is the most wins on the team, and was recently named to the First Team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Team. One of the biggest highlights of Gurrola’s season was his second place finish at the 2014-15 NCAA Division II Super West Regional Championships Feb. 28.
“Overall, I thought the year went well,” Gurrola said. “The whole year (I) prepared for this one tournament (Nationals) and I felt fine, but it just didn’t end as planned.”
The next Gator that took on the mat was walk-on sophomore Costa. The 184-pound wrestler started Nationals with a draw against number-one-ranked in the nation Dallas Smith. When the second consolation round rolled through, Costa put up a fight against Shorter University’s Terrence Smith, but lost by fall in the last minute of the match.
Jensen said the team will rest for the next three weeks and then hit the mats to start preparing for the 2015-2016 season to arrive.
He said they will lose experience from senior wrestler Reggi, who will graduate this semester but said he has high expectations for the seven returning juniors, including Gurrola and Costa, as well as new verbally committed recruits.
“We’re expecting big things next year,” Jensen said. “There are only 360 days left until Nationals again, so we’re excited and I think next year we’re going to have a real break out.”