Reno's Lavallee wrestling for NCAA Championship Saturday
Reno High alum and Missouri wrestler Joey Lavallee continued his run towards an NCAA Championship Friday night after defeating Cornell wrestler Dylan Palacio 8-5 in the 157 lb semis.
The Missouri Tiger's win hardly came easy though. He trailed Palacio 4-2 heading into the third period and only reclaimed the lead for the last 11 seconds of the match.
"I feel relieved," said the third seeded wrestler after one of the biggest matches of his life. "My freshman year and sophomore year I fell one short of All-American-ing. I took the redshirt last year and I fell back in love with the sport. I became more of a student and love the sport even more."
His run to possibly becoming a national champion is even more improbably considering where Lavallee was just a year ago. According to Blake Toppemeyer of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Head Coach Brian Smith became so frustrated with him that he told the Husky to either leave the program or come back a changed man. Lavallee returned the next day with a haircut and a list of changes.
Now Lavallee is one match away from being a national champion, but he's trying to keep though thought out of his mind.
"For me personally, I don't think about. If I start focusing on it and thinking, "Oh man I could be a national champion" and I start getting amped up. For me, I need to stay mellow and relaxed before I step out on that stage tomorrow."
Lavallee will wrestle #1 seed Jason Nolf of Penn State some time between 4 and 7 Northern Nevada time for the NCAA Championship. The match can be watched online at ESPN3.