Three former Oregon high school wrestlers made the most of their opportunities to participate in the Division I NCAA Wrestling Championships held in Philadelphia this weekend, each achieving All American honors after placing in the top eight at their respective weight classes.
Nick Amuchastequi, from Talent, Oregon, represented Stanford University in the 174 pound weight class. Amuchastegui was a four-time State placer for Phoenix High School, including a State Championship as a junior. Nick was a returning All American to this year’s tournament, having placed fourth last year at 165 pounds. Amuchastegui entered the tournament as the #7 seed, but defeated three ranked wrestlers, including the #2 seed Ed Ruth of Penn State and #3 seed Mack Lewnes of Cornell, en route to a matchup with undefeated Jon Reader of Iowa State in the championship finals. Reader remained undefeated, with Amuchastequi finishing as the runner up on the short end of a 10 to 3 decision. Nick finishes the season with an impressive record of 31-4 , following last year’s 35-6 effort.
Amuchastegui also was this years “Elite 88” award winner. The award is given each year to the NCAA tournament participant with the highest academic Grade Point Average. Amuchastegui entered the tournament this year with a 3.944 GPA. Nick is a “back to back” Elite 88 winner, having also won the award last year with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Amuchastegui is a Mechanical Engineering major and served an internship at Sandia National Laboratories last summer in Livermore, Calif..
When asked how he goes about balancing the demands of academics and athletics, Nick said “It’s just a choice of what you want to excel at,” and mentioned sacrifices he makes in his social life to attend to the importance of school and wrestling.
Oregon State University’s Colby Covington achieved All American honors, placing fifth for the Beavers at 174 pounds. Covington, from Springfield, Oregon, compiled a 118-34 record wrestling at Thurston High School, including a State Title as a senior in 2006 competing at 171 pounds. Following high school, Covington attended Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he was an NJCAA national champion for the Tritons with a perfect record of 34-0. After a redshirt year and one season at the University of Iowa, Covington transferred to Oregon State. Colby won two Pac-10 championships for the Beavers, including a 10-4 victory over Amuchastegui in the championship match at this year’s Pac-10 tournament.
Zack Giesen, from Grants Pass, Oregon, became a four-time NCAA qualifier this year wrestling for the Stanford Cardinal. Giesen achieved All American status for the first time in his career at this year’s tournament with a sixth place finish competing at 197 pounds. Zack was a four time Oregon State Champion at North Valley High School, becoming only the 13th wrestler to accomplish that feat.
(Any information not linked to a source was gathered by me as I attended the 2010 NCAA Championship Wrestling Tournament in Omaha, NE, and the 2011 Pac 10 Tournament in Corvallis, OR and I have attended the Oregon State Wrestling tournament and been a high school coach in Oregon since 2007)