Pinkerton Academy junior wrestling star Dylan Barreiro overcame a 5-1 deficit during the third period of his 170-pound title bout to claim a dramatic, last-second victory at the 26th Annual National High School Coaches Association National Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va., this past Sunday evening, March 29.
The now two-time All-American – who earlier won Division I, Meet of Champions, and New England region championships in the 195-pound weight class – became Pinkerton Academy’s first national wrestling champ by vanquishing New Jersey grappler Jalaa Darwish by tallying two huge points in the final seconds of their title bout.
The unbeaten Barreiro decided to take on the significant task of dropping weight after the New England championships and wrestling lighter and faster at the nationals, and it paid off tremendously.
“When he was down 5-1 at the end of the second (period), but had been the aggressor and had choice, I knew he still had a chance,” said PA coach Dave Rhoads. “Dylan wrestles until the ref makes him stop, and tonight he needed every second of the match and used it. His will to win is second to none.”
As for Barreiro himself at that key moment, his line of thinking was simply, “Take him down and get the points. That was my only thought.”
Barreiro and former PA grapplers Phil Moricone and David Owens had all earned All-American honors in the past, but the PA junior’s Sunday night victory gave him a truly special place in Astros’ athletic history.
“Pretty heady stuff, huh? Pinkerton’s first national champ,” said an overjoyed coach Rhoads.
Pinkerton also had sophomore standout Shayne McCann post a solid 3-2 record in 113-pound action among the 10th graders at the national tourney over the weekend, and juniors Keygan Nacos (106 pounds) and
Seamus Dolan (170) tally matching 1-2 records among the 11th graders.
Barreiro battled his way to the 170-pound championship bout by disposing of Dylan Malone of Tennessee (on a fall just 37 seconds in); Karl Halstead of Arizona (in a 17-5 major decision); Austin Caffey of
Connecticut in a far tighter battle (8-6 decision), and then Mitchell Owens of Washington State in the quarterfinals (fall 1:30 in) and Ross Graham of Virginia in the semifinals (7-3 decision).
In the final round, Barreiro didn’t lead New Jersey grappler Darwish until the final seconds when he managed a two-point take-down with less than five ticks of the clock remaining to make the score 6-5 in his favor.
The third, two-minute period began with Darwish grasping the 5-1 advantage, but he was penalized three points for stalling during that decisive stanza, and the Pinkerton standout bagged the national title with his dramatic, last-second surge.
“Honestly, it didn’t sink in right away. It took me about half an hour to really realize it,” said Barreiro of his mammoth win.
Now, having reached the highest heights a high school wrestler can get to, Barreiro knows that every other grappler in his weight class during the 2015-16 campaign will be watching his every move. And his response to that, mere hours after becoming a national champion, was, “I’m ready for it. Bring it on. I want to go back and do it all again.”
Anyone who watched Barreiro wrestle during the 2014-15 season knows that smart folks certainly won’t be betting against him.