Tracy wrestler Eli Blackwell just returned from a week of wrestling for USA Wrestling’s California team.
He went 7-3 for the week over two consecutive meets: the Junior National Duals-Greco-Roman and the Junior National Duals-Freestyle, both in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Blackwell’s team, California Red, placed fifth in the Greco-Roman competition bronze-copper level on June 19 and 20 and seventh in the freestyle competition Friday and Saturday. Greco-Roman wrestling restricts use of the legs, while freestyle wrestling allows the legs to be used in takedowns and holds.
Upon returning from Tulsa, Blackwell headed over to Stanford University, the regional training center for the California team, to get ready for the U.S. Marine Corps Junior Nationals at North Dakota State University in Fargo, July 12-19.
His father and coach, Jonathan Blackwell, noted that Eli will also train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs before he heads to Fargo.
It’s Eli’s fourth trip to the national meet. He qualified with a third-place finish in Greco and a fourth-place finish in freestyle at the USA Wrestling Northwest Regionals in Centrallia, Washington, back in March. He also placed second at the Western Regional meet in Las Vegas in April, which was good enough to qualify him for the national meet.
Last week’s national tournament provided a glimpse of who Blackwell will compete against in Fargo as the top wrestlers from across the country represented their states.
California Red opened by going 2-2 in the opening bracket of the Greco-Roman duals. Their victory against Colorado 38-33 was followed by a loss to Missouri, 44-26. They then beat Tennessee 43-27 and lost to Colorado 34-33.
Blackwell was one of the team’s wrestlers in the 132-pound class and won all three of his matches in the bracket. He pinned Daniel Shaw of Colorado in 3:52, scored a 10-0 technical fall over David Medina of Tennessee and recorded another 10-0 technical fall over Shaw.
The next day, the California Red team went 2-2 in the bronze-copper bracket, including a 41-28 loss to Pennsylvania, a 43-27 loss to Kansas, a 44-28 win over Michigan Red and a 40-27 win over Colorado in the fifth-place match.
Blackwell wrestled in three matches, with a loss on a 12-5 decision to Christian Coleman of Pennsylvania, a 10-0 loss on a technical fall to Chayse La Joie of Michigan Red, and another win by pin (3:49) over Colorado’s Shaw.
The next day was the start of the freestyle competition. California Red went 2-2 in the opening bracket, losing 45-22 to Illinois, winning 53-8 over North Dakota, losing 36-35 to Minnesota Red and winning 44-24 over Kansas Red.
Blackwell went 1-1 for the day, including a 10-0 win by technical fall over North Dakota’s Isaac Felche and a 12-1 loss by technical fall to Minnesota Red’s Cole Becker.
On Saturday in the purple-gray bracket, California Red went 3-0 to take first place, with a 51-13 win over Georgia Red, a 55-17 win over Louisiana and a 63-5 win over North Carolina. Blackwell logged a 10-0 win by technical fall over Jamarius Koshko of Louisiana and also won a match by forfeit.
Blackwell was invited to join the California team after his performance at the California-USA Wrestling Association Duals, May 18 and 19 in Fresno, where he went 4-1 in the Greco-Roman competition and 3-1 in the freestyle competition.
He and Tracy High teammate Anthony Nunes, who will be a sophomore in the fall, were both part of the San Joaquin All Star Wrestling team. Nunes was one of three wrestlers on the team competing in the 120-pound class and won one freestyle match on a 24-15 decision.