Connor Medbery became an All-American at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior National Championships on Tuesday, but it wasn’t the finish he had hoped for in the finals of Greco-Roman at the FargoDome.
Medbery fell 1-0, 2-0 to Parker Betts of Minnesota in the heavyweight championship, with both periods being decided in the final 30 seconds.
“I can’t complain,” Medbery said. “Making it to the finals is a good accomplishment. You always want more, but it was great to make it to the finals.”
On their feet, neither wrestler could get any offense going at any point through the match. Betts won the first period on a defensive point, then in the reverse situation in the second, was able to turn Medbery with a gut wrench, exposing his shoulders briefly to earn a 2-0 victory. At the end of 90 seconds, one wrestler automatically goes in the defensive position.
“Greco can be like that,” Medbery said. “Sometimes you just have to wait it out for 90 seconds and see who can get position. (In the second period), I was trying to see if he’d lose his grip, but he had it pretty tight right off. The first time I was able to fight it off, but the second time he got a good roll.”
It is the fourth year in a row Medbery has earned All-American status in Greco-Roman, taking second in 2008 as a Cadet, then finishing third in 2009 and eighth last year as a junior. The first two placings came at 215 pounds. It wasn’t a bad finish for a guy who doesn’t practice Greco very much (he ventured a couple of practices heading in), and it still marked a vast move up the standings from last year, his first major tournament as a heavyweight wrestler. He also figures this was his last go-round with the style.
Medbery headed into the tournament coming off a phenomenal senior year at Loveland High School, winning his third straight 5A state championship (the first two at 215 pounds) and backing that with the heavyweight title at the National High School Coaches Association Senior Nationals title in Virginia Beach, Vir., in April. All that came wrestling the collegiate style, and Medbery likes the challenge of a different approach. In Greco, wrestlers cannot attack the legs, something Medbery is very adept at doing.
“Greco is mostly upper body, so it plays into some guys strengths and takes away one of mine,” he said. “I like to shoot and work the corners, so it limits my offense.”
Signed to wrestle at Wisconsin this year, Medbery opened the tournament with seven victories, three coming by pin. He isn’t done in Fargo, with the start of the freestyle competition beginning on Thursday. He placed seventh in that discipline last year, beating Betts in the placement match. He figures a runner-up finish will only push him harder the rest of the week.
“It’s kind of fuel to the fire,” he said. “I really wanted to win both Greco and freestyle, but I didn’t quite reach that goal. It will make me focus more on freestyle. I’ll just try to get a lot of rest (today), get a light workout in and get ready to go.”