Dale O’Blia’s run at a national championship in wrestling ended on Sunday with a runner-up finish.
Mullen’s two-time Colorado Class 3A titlist lost 4-2 to North Carolina’s Cameron Stinson in the final of the Sophomore portion of the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Tournament in Virginia Beach.
Mustangs head coach John Howes, excited about O’Blia’s performance, said “last year, he went 2-2 and didn’t place. He did a lot of work, he went to work and got himself to the finals.”
Undefeated through two in-state seasons in Colorado at 61-0, including 44-0 over 2021-22, O’Blia gave up two takedowns and could only muster a couple of escapes.
“He was nervous about making a mistake and so he didn’t get his takedowns,” Howes said.
Always impressed with the national field, Howes added: “You can’t make many mistakes here and you have to stay in your stance, stay in your position. And you can’t give any openings.”
O’Blia was 6-1 over the three-day gathering, winning over entrants from Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Freshman Tony Herrera, sophomore Gilbert Antillon and junior Kaleb Valdez-Lemos also enjoyed the experience of being in the elite field, and Howes added Valdez-Lemos “had to be shut down” with an injury.
But for O’Blia, who also was the team leader of Mullen’s fourth-place finish among 3A team at Ball Arena the past month, it was another step in an ever-growing schoolboy career.
“From last year to this year,” Howes said, “Dale has made himself one of the top sophomore wrestlers in the country.”
Also, Alina Antillon, the Mustangs senor who had a decorated four seasons, has moved to ninth nationally at 138. She jumped from No. 11 after the rankings reflected the completion of state tournaments and the beginning of the spring season.
Antillon was 104-3 in her career with two unsanctioned titles, a sanctioned runner-up and a championship the past month in which she was 41-0 with 41 pins, all but one in the first period.