Tao’s upset headlines AU at NCAA championships
After upsetting the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Championships in his first match and advancing to the quarterfinals with a second straight victory, senior Kevin Tao fell just three points shy of All-American honors as he lost 5-3 to Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta March 22 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We’re obviously a little heartbroken,” AU wrestling Head Coach Teague Moore told aueagles.com, “but knowing what Kevin Tao did to get to this situation, I couldn’t be prouder of him. As a person, I think he’s 10 times where he was just two years ago because of what he’s been able to overcome to get to this point. [He] fell short of being an All-American, but in my mind he’s a phenomenal human being.”
Tao, who wrestles at 149 pounds, opened his championship run with an upset over No. 3 seed Donald Vinson from Binghamton in the first session. He was also named the AU student-athlete of the week for his performance in Iowa.
In the second session, Tao battled back from a slow start when he faced Navy’s Raymond Borja, taking the 6-3 lead lead at the end of the second period after Borja recorded the first takedown. Tao added in another takedown in the third period and picked up the 9-3 win with his riding time advantage.
In his wrestleback match, Tao quickly fell behind, 4-2, in the first period after suffering two takedowns. Tao and his opponent, Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta, went on to trade a pair of escapes throughout the match with Tao eventually dropping the match in a 5-2 decision.
After Herrin dropped his first match in the first session, he earned a victory in his session two wrestleback.
In the win, Herrin recorded the first takedown of the match in the first period and went up 4-1 in the second. He continued to wrestle well and add points in the third period by getting the reversal on his way to the 7-3 decision. Herrin fell to Citadel’s Odie Delaney, 5-2, in session three.
Freshman David Terao lost both of his matches at championships after getting pinned by North Carolina’s Nathan Kraisser in session one and losing a 13-0 major decision to Air Force’s Josh Martinez in the wrestleback.
“I’m very excited with the squad that we have at AU right now,” Moore said. “We’ve got a lot of young, eager talented wrestlers starting with David Terao … He’s gonna be able to set a lot of records at AU in terms of wins and pins. The guy loves to wrestle, and he loves to get his hand raised.”
Terao closes out the year with 28-14 record while Herrin finished 27-10. Tao completes his AU career with a record 63-46, going 26-15 this season, including two NCAA Championship appearances. Despite the losing record at championships, Moore said he is anticipating a terrific season when the Eagles get another crack at it next year with the return of Herrin, Terao and junior Daniel Mitchell.