Josh Terao leads Eagles to wrestling victories

The redshirt sophomore helped AU notch two home wins against Campbell, Clarion

Josh Terao leads Eagles to wrestling victories

AU team captain Esteban Gomez-Rivera wrestles against Columbia's Angelo Amenta at a home match last season on Jan. 31, 2016.

In twenty individual matches over the course of nearly four hours, AU remained consistently dominant, wrestling its way to victory in 13 of the 20 duals and capturing two team wins against Clarion University and Campbell University in Sunday’s double dual.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Terao set the pace for AU in his debut match of the season with a major decision over Campbell’s Nathan Kraisser by a score of 17-9. Just over an hour later, Terao was back on the mat, this time earning a technical fall by accumulating 15 points against Clarion’s Brendan Howard.

“I knew it was going to be some hard matches, but I mean, I’ve been preparing since the summer, so I’m ready,” Terao said.

Terao redshirted last season but spent the 2014-2015 season competing as a 133-pound wrestler, only recently making the switch to 125 pounds. The seven pound drop meant that he had to change his diet and alter his workouts, Terao said. Over the last two decades, the NCAA has worked closely with the sport of wrestling to ensure that weight-cutting is done at a healthier rate, but a seven-pound drop is still significant for a light athlete. Head coach Teague Moore credited Terao for his efforts and discipline in dropping to 125, and Moore said he will be looking for Terao to lead on and off the mat in the seasons to come.

“For Josh, this has been a couple of months in the making. We got home from from Nationals [last spring], and he watched what his brother [David Terao] did, and then he made the commitment to make the cut down to 125,” Moore said. “He was a 133 pounder who made the cut, did it right all summer and really changed on a lot of different things with his lifestyle, with training. He did it the right way, and now we believe he’s a top contender for a national title this year.”

Terao was not the only lightweight to experience success in Sunday’s dual matches. Senior captain Esteban Gomez-Rivera also came away with two wins in a performance that Moore described as “solid.”

“He didn’t give any small positions away, he didn’t concede one little point,” Moore said.  “He’s becoming a beast on top.”

The AU wrestling team will compete next weekend at North Carolina State University for their third match in three weeks, and with this heavy schedule in mind, Moore said that he wanted the athletes to approach Sunday’s match with a focus on execution and training details rather than the result.

He identified three key areas, “winning the first takedown, ending the match with riding time and being able to get off bottom,” that he wanted the team to focus on and he praised his athletes for hitting those goals. Moore said he encouraged his athletes to come out aggressive in the match and maintain control throughout the seven minute duals.

In addition to lauding the efforts of his athletes as a whole, Moore singled out the performances of junior Jeric Kausnic and senior Jason Grimes, two athletes who recorded pins in their matches and scored big points for the team.

Grimes’ pin, which came less than a minute into the match against Campbell, gave the Eagles six points towards the team total and helped AU secure a nine point lead before the 197-pound dual.  Kasunic then added a win to his stat sheet when he defeated Campbell sophomore Willie Bivens 10-1 and recorded AU’s last individual victory against the Camels. His major decision helped AU overpower Campbell, but Kasunic’s biggest moment came in his second match, a tightly-fought contest with Clarion’s Dustin Conti.  

For three periods, Kasunic and Conti fought back and forth, remaining tied 1-1 at the end of seven minutes. Then, in overtime, Kasunic made his move. He stalked his opponent across the mat, working his angles and moving in and out of the circle lightly on his feet. With a quick twist of his body, Kasunic pushed Conti onto his back and held him down for a pin as the crowd erupted. Moore cheered and the team celebrated as six team points were added to the AU total.

“Jeric, he pins, he’s moving up the leaderboard in overall pinners for American, and we saw that in the first match, him going after it,” Moore said. “He wanted to find a way to get it done, and he did. In this match, he found himself in a tight one so it’s hard when you have a pinner mentality, and now you’re in a really tight bout that might be going to overtime, and he just completely does the job that he needs to do. There was a scramble position at the end of that match that was just a lot of fun to watch, and for guys that almost weigh 200 pounds, to see those athletes do what they do, it’s pretty impressive stuff.”

Terao, Gomez-Rivera, Jack Mutchnik, Michael Sprague, Grimes and Kasunic combined to propel the team over Campbell 23-13, just four points shy of AU’s 27-11 win against the Camel’s last year. Heavyweight junior Brett Dempsey, and 157-pound senior Cole Moseley added victories against Clarion, along with Terao, Gomez-Rivera, Sprague, Grimes and Kasunic, to help the Eagles finish off the afternoon with two wins.

Moore showed clear enthusiasm for the team’s wins, but the coach still has his eyes focused on the future.

“We do have a big weekend coming up at North Carolina State with the tournament, but I think this momentum is going to help us,” Moore said. “We’ll just get back in the room on Tuesday.”

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