From state champ to All-American, GOINGS places 8th at NAIA nationals
Sam Goings is as American as it gets.
He grew up in a small town in the desert. He rides horses during his spare time. And he’s not afraid to challenge himself.
It was only fitting that Goings, who graduated from Fallon last year, would become an All-American during his first year wrestling at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. Goings, who wrestled at 165 pounds, won two of his three matches on Friday at the NAIA National Championships in Topeka, Kan., to place no worse than eighth and secure the prestigious honor. The freshman grappler lost both matches on Saturday to finish eighth.
“I was excited after that. It was a hard match. I was pretty excited,” Goings said of his second win on Friday when he secured the All-American honor.
Goings’ big break came in the consolation round where a win would catapult him into elite company or a loss would send him home with nothing. The three-time state champion held on for a 6-3 win over Great Falls’ (Mont.) Khaldoon Rashid to become Fallon’s first All-American since Colin Merkey when he wrested at Embry-Riddle three years ago.
“Sam stepped in and really wrestled well,” Eagles coach K.C. Rock said. “I think at one point in the season he had won 15 or so matches in a row, that’s big for a freshman. I am sure he is excited to have that title as an All-American but I am also sure he is not satisfied with eighth place, either. He is a great kid, a great student, and those are the kind of guys I want as leaders on this team.”
Goings expected to place over the weekend and he delivered.
“It wasn’t like a big shock because I went into the tournament expecting to (place),” Goings said. “ If you don’t, you kind of lost already. It wasn’t like a big shock for me that I did.”
Goings opened the tournament with a bye after winning the regional last month. He defeated Life’s (Ga.), 9-2, in his first bout but lost to Missouri Valley’s Andrew Simmons by pinfall in the quarterfinal round.
“I felt like I was pretty strong,” Goings said. “I wasn’t worried about anyone else in the bracket. I felt like I was pretty focused in the weekend. It was my first time and wanted to let stuff soak in.”
Goings said Simmons’ experience paid off in the quarterfinal as the junior wrestler sent him into the consolation bracket.
“He had some experience. I wasn’t able to work my stuff quite as much,” Goings added. “I felt like wrestled fairly well but it didn’t work out.”
On Saturday, Goings lost in sudden victory (6-4) to Benedictine’s (Kan.) Anthony Orozco, dropping him to wrestle for seventh place instead of fifth. Goings encountered teammate Kody Davis, who handed him an 8-2 loss to end the tournament.
“I wanted to get to the third and fourth place match,” Goings said. “My mindset into the second day was that the work wasn’t done. I felt like a had that (sudden victory) won and I let it go at the end. “
Goings will be off until spring break later this month and knows that this weekend’s experience will push him even further for next season.
“It takes a lot of pressure off for the future,” Goings said about already securing the All-American award. “I don’t have to worry about that. It’s still a tough region and tough tournament. It’s still hard work. Nothing is guaranteed.”