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Olympic rookie Augello comes up short in medal bid

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Updated: August 17, 2016

Haley Augello, a 2016 Olympic rookie, fell short in winning a medal in Rio today, going 1-2 at 48 kilos … but not without a valiant effort by the native of Lockport, Ill.

The confident Augello came out firing in the first match and blanked 2015 World bronze medalist Jessica Blaszka of the Netherlands, 7-0, rolling up two takedowns, two pushouts and a shot clock point against Blaszka in the first period.

Augello then ran into Japan’s Eri Tosaka — the three-time World championship and eventual gold medalist in Rio — in the quarterfinals. Tosaka came out very conservatively with Augello forcing all the action. Despite that, Augello was put on the shotclock in the first period and was unable to score, giving Tosaka a 1-0 lead.

The U.S. lightweight got a takedown with just under a minute gone in the second period but ran into trouble as she got too high while going for a high gut as Tosaka proceeded to get the reversal and then turned her twice for a 7-2 lead. Late in the match, with Augello continuing to push the action, Tosaka earned another takedown and exposure from a cradle on edge of the mat and eventually won 11-2.

“I just got too high on a high gut. Giving her a five to seven-point lead is too tough to come back on, on a country like Japan,” Augello said after the loss.

With Tosaka advancingn to the finals, Augello was pulled back into the repechage (wrestlebacks), where the American lost a tough 3-2 match to Kazahkstan’s Zhuldyz Eshimova.

Eshimova repeatedly blocked off the hard-charging Augello throughout the match. Like Augello’s first match, she was put on the shotclock and was unable to score, giving Eshimova the early lead.

Eshimova got the first point off the match just under a minute into the second period, taking the Illinois native down. Augello quickly responded with a double leg, taking Eshimova off the mat, evening the score 3-2. However, Augello was unable to get another point in the one-point loss.

The 21-year old Augello said she learned some very important lessons and will come back with vengeance at 48kg in the years to come.

“It’s a heartbreak when you train hard for something,” she said, frustrated by Eshimova’s lack of offense. “I look at it like a game of cat and mouse. You can run if you want. But I’d rather be the cat than the mouse. A lot of these girls want to run. It’s a hunt. And the next time I’m out there, I won’t let it slip away like that.”

The King University junior-to-be was disappointed by not doing better at her first Games. However, Augello was supremely confident on what she needed to do different moving forward. She also predicted a lot of international success would be coming her way moving forward.

“I made some mistakes today. If I keep the matches close enough to put it in the ref’s hands, then that’s my fault. It’s frustrating, but sometimes you need those kind of losses to learn to not leave it in the hands of refs, or coaches, or the (challenge) block,” she said.

“I have no doubt I’m going to come away with gold in the next three World Championships and in Tokyo (for the 2020 Olympics). I’m going to come away with gold. This was the first step towards that.”

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