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DES MOINES, IOWA—The scoreboard read 6-1 in the second period, with Southeastern junior Olson Delisca on the short end.
Delisca had just been reversed, and his opponent, Justin Portillo of Grand View awarded four additional back points.
Coach Javier Maldonado saw it differently.
A video review of the move negated the four nearfall points, and brought Delisca back into the match.
He made the most of his second opportunity.
After coming up one win short last year, Delisca locked in All-American honors with a thrilling 3-2 victory in his quarterfinal match to advance to Saturday morning’s semifinal round.
“Coach kept preaching about the ups and downs we’ll have during this tournament,” said Delisca. “I kept telling myself to stay calm.”
Delisca becomes the first All-American in program history.
“We wrestled tough, all of our guys did,” said coach Javier Maldonado. “They all gave themselves a chance to win every match, and battled back.”
He went on to be joined by Ethan Owen at 133, Dylan Chatterton at 157, and Angel del Cueto at 165, as the Fire locked up three more All-American slots during the wrestlebacks.
Owen dropped his first match of the day, but came back to win four matches in the consolation bracket to reach the podium. Owen picked up a pair of first period falls, then defeated sixth-seeded Tanner Irwin of Williams Baptist to advance to the All-American Round. His 4-2 decision over seventh-seeded Taylor Lehman of Waldorf secured the second All-American nod.
“My mentality has been to be the Leviathan; I have to be the toughest guy in the room,” said Owen. “You can’t worry about losing and dropping out. It’s surreal, having lost in this round my freshman year, yet seemed so far away as a dream, but to finally be back here and work hard is a surreal experience.”
Having battled injuries for the past month and a half, as well as a first period loss by fall in the round of 16, Chatterton came back with a vengeance, winning three decisions in the consolation bracket, then scored a first period pin of Hunter Hodges of Southern Oregon to become the third All-American.
“I give God all the glory for just giving me the opportunuity to wrestle,” said Chatterton. “It just feels so amazing to get to All-American; now all the pressure is off, now I’m just going to try to work my way up the podium.”
Del Cueto was in the 165-pound quarterfinals, but dropped an 11-4 match to third-seeded Andrew Simmons of Missouri Valley. He answered right back with a thrilling 7-5 decision in the first sudden victory period.
“I thought if I kept pushing the pace and could get a snap to a shot, I could score,” said del Cueto. “I get in that position a lot, but when I’m wrestling an intense match, I don’t get there much, but (Bartel) got into it and I knew I was good there.”
Jake Watters came up one win shy of All-American, dropping his quarterfinal match 7-2, then his first consolation round match, 7-5.
Southeastern is currently seventh in the team standings, posting 40 points. Semifinal action starts Saturday at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.