Central Cambria grad Murin places sixth at NCAA tournament

Mar. 19—TULSA, Okla. — The bumps, bruises and cuts that have marked Max Murin's face over the past few months — or years, really — might finally disappear.

The Central Cambria graduate's college wrestling career came to an end on Saturday with a sixth-place finish at 149 pounds in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. So, what are his plans for the immediate future?

"Let my face heal up for the first time in about 20 years, so that's exciting," said Murin, who Iowa coach Tom Brands famously said "leads with his face."

On Saturday, Murin fell to Arizona State's Kyle Parco in the consolation semifinals, then lost to Virginia Tech's Caleb Henson in the fifth-place bout.

"Obviously, I didn't get what I wanted," Murin said. "I wanted to strive to be a national champion, but I was feeling good. I finally broke through that blood round and achieved All-American status. I'm just extremely grateful for my teammates, my coaches, my family and God, obviously."

Murin won a pair of PIAA titles wrestling for Central Cambria before heading off to Iowa City to wrestle for the Hawkeyes. He won 78 matches in an Iowa singlet and 16 more while redshirting during his freshman season in 2018.

"It started as a dream," Murin said. "I wanted to wrestle for Iowa since I was a little kid, hearing all of those stories from (Young Guns Wrestling Club founder) Jody Strittmatter. It's been an absolute ride. That's the best way that I can describe it. There's been a lot of ups and downs, but I lived my dream. I achieved All-American status, so obviously I'm grateful and I'm happy. Now it's on to what's next."

So, what is next for Murin?

"That's a great question," he said. "I'm going to take a couple of months to figure it out. I want to figure out if I want to keep on competing, if I want to go into coaching or do something totally different."

It took Murin five years to earn a spot on the podium. He lost in the blood round — one spot from finishing in the top eight — in 2019, 2021 and 2022. He also qualified for the 2020 tournament but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, Parco scored the opening takedown and built his lead to 3-0 before Murin got going in the third period. An escape and quick shot tied the match at 3. Murin released him to try to get another takedown, but he was unable to do so.

Murin also fell behind early against Henson, but was unable to get back in the match with the Virginia Tech freshman. Henson scored takedowns in the first second and third and a set of nearfall points on his way to a 12-3 victory.