Minnesota Wraps Up Opening Day at NCAAs
Five Gophers will look to work their way through wrestlebacks tomorrow to earn All-America honors
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Minnesota wrapped up the opening day of the 2018 NCAA Championships on Thursday with five members of its seven-man NCAA contingent still alive heading into Friday morning’s third session.
“I thought we had a couple opportunities to win some matches and maybe we should have, and those are hard. We were in some rough spots from a seed standpoint, but from a draw standpoint, we thought we could win some of those matches,” said Head Coach Brandon Eggum. “We lost some close ones on the front side. Our guys wrestled well in those losses, so it’s about continuing to grow and build and learn from this so we can be better tomorrow.”
In the day’s opening session, the Gophers posted a 5-4 mark, headlined by bonus-point wins from No. 8 Ethan Lizak at 125 pounds and No. 12 Nick Wanzek at 165. While Lizak’s major decision looked like so many other dominant victories for last year’s national runner-up – an 11-0 drubbing of Barlow McGhee (Missouri) built on a series of near-falls – Wanzek broke his normal mold by picking up his first pin since November. Leading his match 6-1, Wanzek earned the fall with just five seconds remaining in his bout, adding two additional team points to his victory.
Three Gophers – Lizak, Wanzek and 133-pounder Mitch McKee – advanced to wrestle in the second round of the championship bracket on Friday evening. All three encountered tough match-ups, particularly McKee, whose 16 seed paired him against top-ranked and defending national champ, Seth Gross (South Dakota State). Similarly, Wanzek found himself in an underdog position, wrestling an opponent seven seeds above him. Both dropped their bouts, as did Lizak. Lizak’s was a nail-biting contest decided on a controversial takedown call in sudden victory overtime for No. 9 Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State), who knocked off Lizak, 4-2.
Of the four Gophers who lost matches in the morning session and began the long journey through wrestlebacks, two picked up wins on Thursday night to keep their hopes of a podium finish alive. First was Steve Bleise at 149 pounds, who went 1-1 in the morning set with a win over Eleazar Deluca (Rutgers). Bleise went on to double up Cole Martin (Wisconsin), 6-3, for his second win of the day over a Big Ten opponent. Moments later, Jake Short took the mat and dispatched Justin Staudenmayer (Brown), 5-2, without allowing a takedown. Both Bleise and Short will need three more victories during tomorrow’s sessions to earn All-America finishes.
“Tomorrow’s a hard day for everyone on the backside of the bracket. For us, the big thing is to know other guys are going through the same thing and make that an advantage for us,” said Eggum. “A lot of points can be scored on the backside, but it’s tough. The way we train and the way we work, our guys are prepared to go through a grind like that. As long as we’re positive, optimistic, we keep working hard, good things can happen.”
Gophers Tommy Thorn, wrestling at 141 pounds, and Brandon Krone, at 184, were eliminated from the tournament on Friday night.
The Gophers will be back on the mat tomorrow morning when Session III begins at 10 a.m. Central. Minnesota will start the day in 17th place, with eight team points.
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Minnesota Results After Session 2
125 Ethan Lizak (27-6) scored 2.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 27-6 won by major decision over Barlow McGhee (Missouri) 15-13 (MD 11-0)
Champ. Round 2 – Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State) 21-4 won in sudden victory – 1 over Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 27-6 (SV-1 4-2)
133 Mitch McKee (19-7) scored 1.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Mitch McKee (Minnesota) 19-7 won by decision over Josh Finesilver (Duke) 20-20 (Dec 11-6)
Champ. Round 2 – Seth Gross (South Dakota State) 26-1 won by major decision over Mitch McKee (Minnesota) 19-7 (MD 13-5)
141 Thomas Thorn (18-13) scored 0.00 team points – DNP
Champ. Round 1 – Mason Smith (Central Michigan) 32-6 won by decision over Thomas Thorn (Minnesota) 18-13 (Dec 3-0)
Cons. Round 1 – Chad Red (Nebraska) 22-10 won by decision over Thomas Thorn (Minnesota) 18-13 (Dec 8-3)
149 Steve Bleise (20-8) scored 1.50 team points.
Prelim – Steve Bleise (Minnesota) 20-8 won by decision over Eleazar Deluca (Rutgers) 14-13 (Dec 5-3)
Champ. Round 1 – Grant Leeth (Missouri) 24-2 won by decision over Steve Bleise (Minnesota) 20-8 (Dec 11-7)
Cons. Round 1 – Steve Bleise (Minnesota) 20-8 won by decision over Cole Martin (Wisconsin) 17-14 (Dec 6-3)
157 Jake Short (17-12) scored 0.50 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Joshua Shields (Arizona State) 30-3 won by decision over Jake Short (Minnesota) 17-12 (Dec 4-3)
Cons. Round 1 – Jake Short (Minnesota) 17-12 won by decision over Justin Staudenmayer (Brown) 22-12 (Dec 5-2)
165 Nicholas Wanzek (23-11) scored 3.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Nicholas Wanzek (Minnesota) 23-11 won by fall over Keilan Torres (Northern Colorado) 23-11 (Fall 6:55)
Champ. Round 2 – Alex Marinelli (Iowa) 18-3 won by fall over Nicholas Wanzek (Minnesota) 23-11 (Fall 6:15)
184 Brandon Krone (12-10) scored 1.00 team points – DNP
Prelim – Brandon Krone (Minnesota) 12-10 won by decision over Alan Clothier (Appalachian State) 27-11 (Dec 10-6)
Champ. Round 1 – Domenic Abounader (Michigan) 25-5 won by decision over Brandon Krone (Minnesota) 12-10 (Dec 4-0)
Cons. Round 1 – Bryce Carr (Chattanooga) 27-6 won by decision over Brandon Krone (Minnesota) 12-10 (Dec 7-1)
Friday, Session 3 (10 a.m. Central) Matchups:
– 125 Cons. Round 2 – Brock Hudkins (Northern Illino) vs #8 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota)
– 133 Cons. Round 2 – Zachary Sherman (North Carolina) vs #16 Mitch McKee (Minnesota)
– 149 Cons. Round 2 – Steve Bleise (Minnesota) vs Jarrett Degen (Iowa State)
– 157 Cons. Round 2 – Andrew Crone (Wisconsin) vs Jake Short (Minnesota)
– 165 Cons. Round 2 – Demetrius Romero (Utah Valley) vs #12 Nicholas Wanzek (Minnesota)
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