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O'Blia wins again; 'Stangs 4th

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Soph Dale O'Blia wins again at 3A 106 and is 61-0 for his career; Linares (132) and Valdez-Lemos (170) are runners-up; Troni (170) takes 3rd.
The greatest season in Mullen wrestling history was capped Saturday night at a very crowded Ball Arena as the Colorado tournament enjoyed a triumphant and welcomed return after the shortened coronavirus (COVID-19) season.

With a fourth-place finish in the Class 3A team race, the Mustangs also produced an individual champion for a second consecutive season as well as two runners-up and a third-place finisher.

“The kids were great,” Mustangs head coach John Howes said.

Tops – again – for Mullen was sophomore Dale O’Blia. He finished 2021-22 with a 44-0 record and is 61-0 over two seasons with his back-to-back titles.

His final wasn’t easy – he fell behind early as he did in the semifinals, but didn’t panic, remained patient and overcame a very game Samuel Rosales of Jefferson 5-2.

“Yeah,” a happy O’Blia said, “so I knew he would be another good opponent, I knew it would be a tough match. I just wanted to wrestle as best as I possibly could.

“Once he got that first takedown, I knew I could stay composed. It’s not over until it’s over.”

Said Howes: “Dale is so good. He’s special, he’s special … he stays at it, stays at it, never quits, He has a motor that never stops. It just keeps going. He has worked hard, put in lots of time and he’s a good guy and a good kid to be around.”

O’Blia knew he began slowly his past two matches and said “I have to get off the whistle. I’m slow and I can’t do that.”

As for having a perfect record and all of the attention it attracts, he added: “I feel good about it, but it’s not over, not all said and done until I’m a senior and it’s done. I can focus on it a little bit, but I have to start preparing for next year.”

Howes knew he got a few other high-end efforts.

Senior Noah Linares (42-7) was second at 132. In the semifinals, he somehow earned a 5-4 victory in overtime while battling sickness and all that comes with it, and he ran out of gas a bit in losing in the final to a very good Alex Castaneda of team-champion Eaton 7-1.

No excuses, Howes said, but Linares spent the better part of the previous 48 hours with the flu and its assortment of unpleasant aspects, including getting an IV.

“Mentally,” Howes said, “Noah is the toughest kid I’ve ever had. He’s really tough.”

And at 170, junior Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (44-5) was pinned by another Eaton competitor, Ryan Dirksen, who finished 44-0 and gave Valdez-Lemos three of his losses.

Both Linares and Valdez-Lemos were third in the previous Colorado tournament.

It’s also where senior Mark Troni (170) closed out his career with a 42-4 record.

Eaton was first 127.5 points. Gunnison (105) and Jefferson (94.5) were next and Mullen fourth at 93.5.

With more than three decades coaching on the mat, Howes matched his best team finish while at Arvada and said he was more than pleased with this season’s team from start to end, and there is promise for 2022-23.

“I asked a lot of these kids and they gave it,” he said.
At Ball Arena
Top team scores -- Eaton 127.5; Gunnison 105; Jefferson 94.5; Mullen 93.5.
106 – Dale O’Blia (44-0) dec. Samuel Rosales, Jefferson (36-7) 5-2.
132 – Noah Linares (42-7) was dec. by Alex Castaneda, Eaton (46-6) 7-1.
170  -- Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (44-5) was pinned by Ryan Dirksen, Eaton (44-0), 4;47.
170 – Mark Troni (42-4) won by maj. dec. over Michael Volosin, Moffat County (41-9) 9-0.
113 – Gilbert Antillon (33-11) lost by dec. to Nick Dardanes, Brush (42-7) 5-4.
136 – Alina Antillon (44-0) pinned Camryn Scott, Chatfield (26-12), 0:38.