As the final seconds ticked away in the 2A championship match at 220 pounds in the Mat Classic on Saturday, two faces of happiness showed themselves.
Blaine High School coach Colt Warren and his assistants dashed onto the mat, smiling widely, eyes shining. In contrast, Saul Magallon, who had just claimed a 3-1 victory over Blayne Haderman of River Ridge, bent over at the waist, covering his face with his hands. He had to wipe tears from his eyes to sign the scoresheet.
“Pure joy,” Magallon explained. “I did it for my grandpa.”
Jose Dellagiallo passed away 10 years ago but walks onto the mat with Magallon for every match in the form of a tattoo on his shoulder.
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“He always told me to do everything I can and to do my best,” Magallon said.
Saturday, patience played a role in Magallon being his best. The first round ended 0-0 with neither wrestler making any aggressive moves, each wary of a highly-regarded guy he’d never wrestled before. Haderman came into the match ranked first in the state, but earlier in the season, Magallon was ranked ahead of him.
“That’s the nature of a state final,” Warren said. Magallon agreed.
“It’s a tight match for the state championship,” he said. “I didn’t want to make a mistake. I didn’t want to give him any opportunities.”
Magallon started in the down position in the second round and picked up an escape to lead 1-0. Haderman did the same to start the third round before Magallon scored the decisive points.