Just a year after losing to Penn State’s Mark Hall in the semifinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Sun Devil sophomore Zahid Valencia squared up against Hall again this year, but with the national champion title on the line.
Valencia, who is ranked No. 1 in the country at 174-pounds, got his NCAA Championships revenge on the 2nd-ranked Hall with a 8-2 win in the championship.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s an awesome feeling,” Valencia told reporters in his post-national championship press conference. “Just being out there, seeing all of the fans going crazy after that win. It was awesome being able to get my revenge.”
He added about Hall: “I knew his defense was going to be excellent, I couldn’t make any mistakes. I had to be pretty much perfect in all of my shots.”
The St. John Bosco High School alum becomes the 11th national champion in Arizona State history, and the first since Anthony Robles in 2011.
Valencia’s victory over Hall caps off his 32-0 undefeated season, as the Sun Devils notched a 10th-place finish at the championships just a year after they finished 14th.