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Tyler Hinton Becomes First Finalist for Wrestling

By Calvin Shepherd
On March 23, 2016

Photo by Calvin Shepherd

Over the course of only a few hours, the Kansas Expo-Center had moved from eight mats where brutal wrestling matches had been battled on for an All-American title to a center stage holding only one mat. As ESPN3 geared up to present their first NAIA Wrestling event, senior Tyler Hinton paced with headphones in, ready to wrestle his 141-pound match as Ottawa University’s first-ever National Finalist.

Hinton was no stranger to breaking records for the two-year-old team after becoming the first-ever All-American last year by placing eighth in the tournament. This year, he made it to the big stage, guaranteeing a spot as either first or second after winning four other matches that weekend.

At the beginning of the tournament, Hinton was accompanied by Kaleb Furr, 125 junior, and Kasey Crump, 197 senior. Furr had lost two close matches at the beginning of the tournament, knocking him out early. The first match he lost to Luke Schlosser of Great Falls University in an 8-2 decision. Schlosser would go on to place fifth. Furr then lost to Dustin Miller of Lyons College in a 5-2 overtime decision.

Photo by Calvin Shepherd

Crump, however, began by wrestling a kid who had become somewhat of a rival to him. Stephan Loosbrock beat Crump three times in the past, and Crump had only one win over him. That win happened to be in the semi-finals of last year’s National Qualifier and was only a one-point match. This time was a different story. Crump won 4-2 with a takedown, escape and riding-time to win the match.

Photo by Calvin Shepherd

Crump’s next match was against Jared McCoy of Morningside University, who beat Kasey by a 3-2 decision. Moving to the consolation bracket, Crump first beat Kyler Atwood of Baker University (3-0 decision) and then Ramsey Bloy of Cumberlands University by a fall in the third period to proceed to the “Blood Round.”

In National Wrestling tournaments, the “Blood Round” is known as the round that decides if a wrestler will become an All-American or not. Win, the wrestler is guaranteed a metal in the top eight in the country and an All-American title. Lose, the wrestler gets nothing. It is known as the “most emotional round in the entire sport.”

Crump was faced up against Hudson Buck of Dickinson State. Buck took Crump down in the final seconds of the first period to score the first two points of the match. In the second period, Buck chose bottom position and scored a quick reversal for another two points, sending the score to 4-0. Crump, however, did manage to escape scoring his first point and making the match 4-1. The third period Crump took bottom position and escaped. That was the last score of the match. Final score was 4-2. Buck would go on to place fifth in the tournament.

The tournament had a very different feel for Hinton. He won his first match over Anthony Ashford of St. Catherine University with a 19-10 major decision then won his second over Sonny Gulesian of Brair Cliff University with a 14-12 overtime takedown in sudden victory.

In the quarterfinals, Hinton was to face Steele Escobedo from Menlo University. Hinton and Escobedo had a history. In the previous year, Hinton wrestled Escobedo in the first round after the Blood Round. It was here where Hinton separated his shoulder and lost his match along with the rest of his matches that day. Hinton then spent the off season getting surgery on that shoulder.

This match was different. Hinton started by getting the first takedown and Escobedo escaped immediately with a takedown to answer. Hinton quickly reversed and chopped up four extra points by putting Escobedo to his back. It was 8-3 heading into the second period. Escobedo picked bottom and got a quick reversal. It was not long before he put Hinton to his back for two points and began working on another turn.

Escobedo got his second turn in the beginning of the 3 period. Hinton bridged on his head hard; he knew what he was doing. The referee slapped the mat for the pin. Both wrestlers jumped up excited and celebrating. After the referee calmed them both down, they raised Hinton’s hand. Escobedo was so focused on Hinton’s back, that he did not realize he was lying flat on his own. Hinton had bridged so hard that he had taken control of the situation and caused a defensive pin. He guaranteed his spot again as an All-American and was moving on to the semi-finals.

Photo by Calvin Shepherd



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