TULSA, Okla. – Go be a Warrior.
That is the mantra former Iowa three-time state champion Michael Blockhus has used the entire 2022-23 season.
This weekend at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships, Blockhus became that warrior.
Overcoming a second round loss to Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas in sudden victory, Blockhus won three consecutive consolation matches, the third a 6-2 win over Graham Rooks of Indiana that secured the star wrestler from New Hampton his first all-American finish for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
“A dream come true really,” Blockhus said. “My ultimate dream as a kid growing up was to be an all-American, National Champion. It feels good to finally have that set in.
“Obviously, I lost a match Thursday, and you have to bounce back and that is one of the hardest things to do in this sport…and that is why I love it.”
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Blockhus spent two seasons at UNI, qualifying for the cancelled 2020 NCAA championships in Minneapolis, before transferring to the Gophers at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
In each of the last two years, Blockhus qualified for the NCAA championships for Minnesota, but 1-2 in each appearance.
This week he opened with a tight win over Victor Voinovich of Oklahoma State 3-2, before his lost to Thomas. He followed the loss with wins over Caleby Tyus of SIU-Edwardsville, and then beat returning all-American Dom Demas of Cal Poly in sudden victory to reach the blood round.
Blockhus lost to Iowa’s Max Murin in the consolation semifinals, 3-1 in sudden victory and eventually finished eighth.
Asked what was the difference from going from a 17-15 wrestler in 2021-22 to a 21-7 all-American wrestler in 2022-23, Blockhus was succinct.
“I think the biggest difference is a mentality switch,” Blockhus said. “You ask the best guys in the county, national champions and they all say they believe it…believe they want to be national champion.
“With me it is just believing in myself and then go being a warrior. I’ve been preaching that all year…go be a warrior and that is what I do.”
Blockhus, who two individuals titles for New Hampton and one for Crestwood of Cresco while being a four-time Iowa high school state finalist, also said he plans on using his COVID year to wrestle a sixth season next year for the Golden Gophers.