~ OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – When Eric Grajales lost his quarterfinal match to Missouri's Drake Houldashelt Friday morning, the Michigan fifth-year senior 149-pounder let the people in the tunnels at the Chesapeake Energy Arena now he was not happy.
It was a tough 3-1 loss, and a win there not only would have sent him to the semifinals, but it would have also secured All American status for the first time in three trips to the finals for Grajales.
So he had to put the win behind him and win one more time in the consolation bracket to finally get on the podium.
He did that Friday evening, when he beat Cornell's Chris Villalonga 4-1.
“After my loss in the quarterfinals, (Michigan coach Joe McFarland) told me I need amnesia,” Grajales said. “So I went back to my room and got away from everything and everybody. I shut everything out and refocused on what I needed to do.”
Putting losses behind him is something Grajales has had a difficult time doing according to his coach.
“Yes, in the past, he has had a hard time getting back up after losses,” McFarland said. “This is a high-level quality tournament, and you do need to have amnesia if you do loss, because your next match is just as tough. And if you don't do that, you will find yourself in the stands.”
Grajales is still on the mat, along with one of his teammates.
Grajales is now one of two Michigan All Americans. Stephen Dutton, a 141-pound junior, also won in the pressure packed 'Blood Round”.
Freshman heavyweight Adam Coon just missed out at securing All American status, as he lost to Ohio's Jeremy Johnson, 3-1 in overtime.
It was a tight match throughout, but Johnson threw in an under hook and went to a single leg for the deciding takedown and the win.
Coon's teammate, Grajales, knows that feeling, twice over.
But now he leaves an NCAA tournament and All American.
“This is a hard feeling to describe,” Grajales said. “But most of all, I feel pride. I am happy with how I wrestled.”
TWO MORE ALL AMERICANS FOR SCHOOLS IN THE STATE
Aside from Michigan's two All American's, schools in the state of Michigan had two other All Americans.
Central Michigan senior Joe Roth won in the “Blood Round” and earned All American Status by beating Purdue's Cash Quiroga 5-3 at 133 pounds, while Michigan State senior heavyweight Mike McClure had little trouble in beating Ohio State's Nick Tavanello, 10-2.
“I finally did it,” said McClure, who was making his second strip to the finals this year. “My goal coming into the (Tavanello match) was to break him, and I knew I would do that.”