AU Wrestlers Terao and Boyle prepare for NCAA Tournament
Dressed in loose sweatpants and a black flannel long sleeve t-shirt, junior David Terao stretched casually in the AU wrestling room. He smiled broadly and joked with his assistant coaches, bursting with enthusiasm as he prepared to travel to St. Louis for the biggest match of his season: the Division I NCAA wrestling tournament. Junior John Boyle will also be joining Terao in the national tournament.
“It’s really crazy, you see like 20,000 something people just for wrestling,” Terao said. “That never happens anywhere else, so it’s pretty cool. I think back to all my high school tournaments, they don’t compare at all, so it’s definitely really unique.”
Terao enters the tournament for the third time in his AU career, and holds a 37-5 individual record for the season. His previous experience at the national championship allows him to approach this year’s competition with confidence, he said.
“You just feel comfortable, you know what to expect,” Terao said. “It’s little things like you know how the announcer’s voice sounds in that big arena with all the voices screaming for every match, and you know to expect that maybe the referee will get a call wrong or something like that… if that’s happened to you, you expect it, you’re not going to be phased by it.”
Terao is also familiar with his first round opponent, Northern Iowa’s Dylan Peters, who holds a ninth seed in the tournament. The two wrestlers competed against each other in high school, and Terao prevailed in the match-up. He will need to earn another victory on Thursday morning to advance towards a national championship in the 125-pound weight class.
“I’m just focused on this first match,” Terao said. “I’m wrestling a tough guy, and he knows I’m a tough guy, so we’re going to go at it, so one match at a time, I don’t even know who I’m going to wrestle after him so just focused on my first match.”
Junior captain John Boyle will also represent the Eagles at the tournament,but, for Boyle, competing at the national event will be a new experience.
The New Jersey native earned a bid to the tournament after placing second in the 157 pound weight class at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) conference championships, a tournament that he did not place in last season. He finished the year with a 36-8 overall record for the year, and earned GEICO Student-Athlete of the Week honors on Jan. 5. Boyle credits his improvement to newfound confidence and his focused mindset.
“The big thing was just believing in myself and worrying about what I’m doing,” Boyle said. “Every match, I’m taking it one at a time.”
Boyle and Terao are the only two AU wrestlers competing in the NCAA tournament, but the entire team stayed to train with their teammates over spring break. Several of the team members will be driving out to St. Louis to watch the tournament, and David Terao’s younger brother Josh, will be flying out to see David fight for a national title.
Last season, Terao finished one match short of the podium at nationals, and he plans to reverse that result this year.
“I’m most looking forward to getting my hand raised in the finals,” Terao said.
Boyle echoed Terao’s excitement and, he too has confidence in AU’s success.
“We are just as good, if not better than everyone else in the country,” Boyle said. “We just have to believe in ourselves. Whether it’s the No. 1 team, Iowa or if it’s Utah Valley we’re wrestling, it doesn’t matter where they’re from or what singlet they have on.”
2007 graduate John Glenn is the only AU wrestler to ever win a national title, but Boyle and Terao hope to add their name to that short list this weekend.
“It’s just an honor because the people that have come before us, like we’ve had Josh Glenn and Mike Cannon and Steve Fittery and Kyle, so being able to be in the same position that they were in and have the same opportunities, it’s a real blessing,” Terao said.