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Danbury’s Jakob Camacho wins medal in Senior Nationals debut

Danbury’s Jakob Camacho, center, finished seventh at the USA Wrestling Senior Nationals in Iowa this weekend. Camacho is with North Carolina State teammates Huaden Hidlay, left, and Trent Hidlay, right. (Photo courtesy North Carolina State wrestling)

In his first appearance at USA Wrestling’s Senior Nationals, Danbury’s Jakob Camacho finished seventh at 57 kilograms (125.7 pounds) in men’s freestyle in Corville, Iowa.

Camacho, who will be a sophomore this winter at North Carolina State, went 4-2 in six bouts at the tournament, the first major wrestling tournament hosted by USA Wrestling since the COVID-19 pandemic stopped sports cold last March.

Avon’s Este Lara (57 kg) also made his Senior Nationals debut and dropped two matches.

More than 350 competitors in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman competed in the tournament. Each athlete, USA Wrestling staff member, coach, volunteer and official will be checked with a temperature scanner before entering Xtream Arena. Masks were required throughout the arena, which had a capacity of 25 percent or an estimated 1,200 fans.

Camacho won his first two bouts of the tournament with a pair of technical falls in less than two minutes before losing to top-seeded Vitali Arujau of Cornell in the quarterfinals, 11-0 in 4:22. Arujau, the son of a former two-time world champion wrestler from the Soviet Union, went on to win the tournament – his first senior level national title.

“(I) learned a lot this weekend,” Camacho said in a post on Twitter. “I love to put it on the line and I will be back stronger and better. Most of all, the support from the Wolfpack family is second to none.”

Camacho will be a sophomore at North Carolina State this winter. After dropping a decision to Arujau, Camacho won his first consolation round bout to get into the medal round with a 10-0 technical decision over Jack Medley of Michigan in 4:29.

Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona beat Camacho on Sunday, 5-4 to advance to the consolation semifinals. Latona took a 5-0 lead only to see Camacho rally and cut the lead to one. But Camacho couldn’t secure a takedown to get the win.

In the seventh place bout, Camacho beat No. 6 seed Shelton Mack, a teammate in the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, 5-2. Camacho trailed by one after one period, 2-1 but he had a strong second period and the key move was a takedown with just under a minute left in the bout.

Avon’s Este Lara, 31, made his Senior National debut as well in the tournament at 57 kg. Lara was a State Open champion from Avon in 2007 and wrestled collegiately at American International College, graduating in 2012.

Since then, he has been an assistant coach at Trinity College and AIC. He now runs the Ascension Athletic Club in Bristol.

“I just wanted to get back into it,” he said. “I never stopped wrestling with the guys in the room.” He is also healthier than he has been in quite a while. He has been working out at Ascension and at the New York Regional Training Center (RTC) in Hoboken, N.J. to prepare for this tournament.

Lara got pinned in his first match in 51 seconds by Antonio Saldate from California Baptist University and dropped a 10-0 technical fall decision to Jackson Henson of Sunkist Kids in 1:09 in the consolation round.

2020 Senior Nationals results from FloArena

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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