The incoming Tracy High junior spent four days a week for most of the summer at Kimball High with Jaguar wrestling coach Tyler Mullen, who welcomed athletes from all local schools to his workouts.
That’s in addition to football workouts as Blackwell prepares for a season as a running back and linebacker for the Bulldog team.
The regimen paid off when he earned a trip to the USA Wrestling Cadet Greco Nationals from July 13 to 20 at the Fargo Dome in Fargo, N.D. His entry into national competition resulted from his third-place finish in the 170-pound cadet class at the USA Wrestling California State Greco Championships in June — Blackwell’s first state-level trophy.
He also won his class at the San Joaquin Wrestling Association championships in May. His finish at the state tournament qualified him for USA Wrestling’s California state team and was his ticket to Fargo.
While Blackwell didn’t place in his bracket at the national meet, he counts his two matches there as good experience.
“You learn so much different stuff, things I’d never seen before or thought about trying,” Blackwell said.
He noted that the wrestlers he faced, from Iowa and Washington, were able to set up and execute their moves more smoothly than he had seen before.
“My first match, the guy was from Iowa, so I knew he was going to be good, but there were no surprises,” he said. “It’s for sure going to help me out, learning new techniques and different moves that I can hit.”
Blackwell stayed for the rest of the tournament to watch other wrestlers go after national championships, including juniors, a level up from the cadet class .
“It seemed like a lot of people had tough first matches,” he said. “It was still cool to come back the next day to watch all of the juniors, to see how strong they were.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.