TULSA, Okla. – The University of Minnesota wrestling program has added two NCAA All-Americans to the record books, as both Aaron Nagao and Michael Blockhus both reached the NCAA podium for the first time in their careers on Friday night.
Aaron Nagao opened the day with a quarterfinals bout with Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State), but he would fall via a 4-1 decision which pushed him to the Round of 12 on the consolation side. He would bounce back in a major way on the consolation side, however, as he dominated Iowa State’s Zach Redding in a major decision to become the first 133-pound All-American since Ethan Lizak in 2019.
Nagao would then close out the night by knocking off fifth-seeded Kai Orine (NC State), securing the winning takedown in the final minute to take the match. The Esperanza, Calif., native is now slated to face Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix tomorrow morning.
Blockhus would have a much longer path to the NCAA podium, as he needed to string together three-straight victories in order to secure a top-8 finish. The redshirt senior opened the day with an 8-5 win over Caleb Tyus (SIU-Edwardsville), then avenged an earlier season loss to Cal Poly’s Dom Demas in overtime fashion.
Blockhus then stood across Indiana’s Cayden Rooks for the third time this season, and once again, Blockhus would earn a decision win over Rooks to give the senior his first All-America honors. He would fall in the Round of 8 to Max Murin (Iowa) in his next match, which means he will compete in the seventh-place bout in Session V.
The Maroon & Gold’s other quarterfinalists, Bailee O’Reilly and Isaiah Salazar, both struggled on the day, and each finished one win short of becoming an All-American. Patrick McKee and Andrew Sparks were both eliminated in the Friday morning session, while Jake Bergeland, unfortunately, had to medically forfeit out of the tournament.
After day two, Minnesota currently sits in 14th place in the team standings with 29.5 points. Action resumes tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. CST with the consolation semifinals and placement matches before the finals session takes place at 6:00 p.m. CST.
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