Braedon Orrino is down to his last chance.
And the Central Valley senior hopes to finally make the most of it this weekend when the State 4A wrestling tournament unfolds at the Tacoma Dome.
The 145-pound Orrino admits he arrived at CV labeled as the next phenom after winning national championships in eighth grade in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco.
“There was a lot of hype because of my brother (Colton Orrino), and everybody expected me to do what he did,” Braedon said.
“When he got here he was the best there was to offer,” CV coach Brian Owen said.
Anxiety issues have beset Orrino.
“He won a regional title as a freshman,” Owen said. “That’s how good Braedon has always been. And on any given day as a freshman he could beat the best.”
The opponent he beat in the regional final took third at state.
Orrino is a four-time state qualifier. As a freshman and sophomore he went 1-2 and was eliminated one match from placing. Last year, Orrino broke through, placing fifth. Still, he thought he should have been in the finals if not have won. He lost an overtime match in the quarterfinals to the eventual state champion Orrino beat at state as a freshman.
“I haven’t performed like I should have any year at state,” Orrino said.
Orrino’s kryptonite isn’t anything physical. It’s between the ears.
Owen pointed out that most athletes – even professionals – have difficulties in some form or fashion.
“Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) couldn’t shoot a free throw,” Owen said. “Talk about anxiety, and nobody is guarding you. It’s the easiest shot you can take.”
Earlier this season, Orrino (30-4 this year, 109-24 overall) took third at the Tri-State tournament, losing an overtime match where he tightened up.
It appeared Orrino had conquered his demons following Tri-State. But he slipped last weekend at regionals, falling 3-2 in the semifinals.
Ranked No. 1 all season, Orrino dropped to third after regionals.
“I didn’t wrestle up to my potential,” Orrino said. “I know for a fact that won’t be the outcome at state.”
Owen said it was difficult to watch the ever-talented Orrino freeze up.
“He’s so naturally gifted,” Owen said. “He’s every coach’s dream. You teach something and while all the other kids are trying to figure it out Braedon already has it down. He could be blindfolded and do it. If you ask him to jump, he doesn’t ask how high because he’s already in the air.”
Orrino has benefitted greatly by having his brother to spar with this season.
“It’s definitely made me better with my technique and setting up shots,” Orrino said. “It’s also helped me to wrestle in the third period in terms of stamina and strength. My conditioning is as good as it’s ever been.”
In his first two matches at regionals, Orrino won by technical fall and a major decision. After the loss, he finished with a major decision and a technical fall.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident than I have my previous years,” he said. “Part of it is maturity. I know what it’s like to be in the semifinals at state. I know what you need to win. My approach at state will be to leave it all on the mat. It’s my last hurrah.”