Top talent flexes muscles in NCAA second round

Updated: March 21, 2013

By Mike Finn

Going into the 2013 Nationals, the individual talent level was considered one of the best in NCAA history, considering 85th annual postseason event featured ten previous national champions. And the cream of the crop definitely proved its value during the second round of this year’s tournament in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

NCAA Session-2-Brackets

Heading into Friday morning’s quarterfinals, 61 of a possible 80 wrestlers — seeded among the Top 8 in their weight classes — were still alive in the championship bracket … and that included the top four wrestlers in almost every weight class.

The rare exception to this rule continued to come at 157 pounds where only four of the top eight seeds remain alive for a championship. That included No. 1 Jason Welch of Northwestern who defeated Rutgers’ Scott Winston, 6-2; and No. 2 Derek St. John, who beat Air Force’s Josh Kreimer, 9-5.

Otherwise the only other highly ranked wrestlers who remained unbeaten in this year’s NCAA at 157 pounds are Oklahoma State’s No. 6 Alex Dieringer, a 9-0 victor over Ohio’s Spartak Chino, and Penn State’s No. 8 Dylan Alton, who earned a 13-5 major decision against Rider’s Zac Cibula.

Another top seed at 157 to go down on Thursday night when Virginia Tech’s No. 7 Jesse Dong lost 4-3 to Ohio State’s unseeded Josh Demas. Earlier in the day No. 3 Joey Napoli of Lehigh and No. 4 James Green of Nebraska lost first-round bouts.

All the other former champs remained in contention; many of whom scored bonus points in the second round  … as did their current rivals.

For example at 133 pounds, Ohio State’s Logan Stieber added his second pin of tournament when he flattened Pitt’s Shelton Mack in 2:40. Meanwhile, Iowa’s second seeded Tony Ramos pinned North Carolina’s Joey Ward in 1:07 for the Hawkeye’s second fall of the tournament.

At 165 pounds, where Cornell’s three-time champion Kyle Dake and Penn State’s 2012 champ and Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor are expected to reach the final match of the tournament Saturday night, the duo lived up to their billing. Dake still has not allowed a single opposing point as the senior recorded his second shutout of the tournament, a 10-0 major decision against Indiana’s Ryan LeBlanc. Taylor, meanwhile, added his second fall of the tournament, a 2:42 pin against Appalachian State’s Zachary Strickland.

Penn State also picked up pins by Matt Brown, the No. 2 seed at 174 pounds, and Ed Ruth, the top seed at 184 pounds. Brown needed just 1:30 to flatten Pitt’s Nick Bonaccorsi. For Ruth, a returning champion from 2012, his pin in 3:42 against Arizona State’s Kevin Radford helped the Nittany Lions increase their team lead after the second round.

Heading into the quarterfinals, Penn State leads the field with 32.5 points, followed by Oklahoma State with 29, Minnesota with 24, Iowa with 22 and Oregon State with 16.

Among the other returning champions, Iowa’s Matt McDonough scored a 5-1 win over Kent State’s Steve Mitcheff to advance to the 125-pound quarterfinals where he will face Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett, a 5-3 win over Stanford’s Evan Silver. In the opposite bracket at 125, top seed Alan Waters advanced with a 4-2 win over Michigan’s Sean Boyle, while 2012 national runner-up Nico Megaludis of Penn State scored a 5-2 win over Central Michigan’s Christian Cullinan.

At 149 pounds, Oklahoma State’s No. 1 seed Jordan Oliver, a 2011 champion and 2012 runner-up at 133 pounds, turned in his second major decision of the tournament; a 13-3 victory over Virginia’s Derek Valenti. Matching Oliver’s performance at 149 pounds was No. 2 seed Jason Chamberlain, who majored Oklahoma’s Nick Lester, 14-5.

Meanwhile at the heaviest weights, former champions Dustin Kilgore of Kent State, Penn State’s Quentin Wright and Minnesota’s Anthony Nelson remained alive to win another championship.

Kilgore, the top seed at 197 pounds, scored a 10-2 major decision at Ohio’s Phillip Wellington, while No. 2 seed Wright defeated Drexel’s Brandon Palik, 3-2. Also scoring big wins at that weight were No. 3 seed Matt Wilps of Pitt, a 9-1 victor over Bloomsburg’s Richard Perry, and No. 4 Alfonso Hernandez of Wyoming, a 19-4 technical fall winner over Eastern Michigan’s Nick Whitenburg.

At heavyweight, Nelson pinned The Citadel’s Odie Delaney, in 5:42, but the Gopher is seeded No. 2. Missouri’s Dom Bradley, the No. 1 seed, recorded a 4-2 win over Iowa State’s Matt Gibson. And the hottest heavyweight after two rounds is Oklahoma State’s No. 3 Alan Gelogaev, who pinned Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson in 34 seconds. That means that the Cowboy, who pinned Michigan’s Ben Apland in 18 seconds during a first-round match, has only been on the NCAA mats for a combined 52 seconds.

Minnesota suffered two of the bigger upsets during the second round.

Among the higher seeded wrestlers to lose in the second round was Minnesota's Kevin Steinhaus, the No. 5 seed who fell to Iowa's No. 12 Ethen Lofthouse, 3-2. (Ginger Robinson image)

Among the higher seeded wrestlers to lose in the second round was Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus, the No. 5 seed who fell to Iowa’s No. 12 Ethen Lofthouse, 3-2. (Ginger Robinson image)

Dylan Ness, last year’s national runner-up at 149 pounds, fell into the wrestlebacks when he lost 5-2 to Missouri’s unseeded Drake Houdashelt, who scored a deciding takedown with 12 seconds left.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus, seeded No. 5 at 184 pounds, lost 3-2 to No. 12 seed Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa.

Regarding unseeded wrestlers, eight remained alive in the winner’s bracket:

• Appalachian State’s Dominic Parisi, who edged Wyoming’s No. 12 Tyler Cox, 5-4. Earlier in the day, the Mountaineer also upset Virginia Tech’s No. 5 seed Jarrod Garnett in a first-round match.

• American University’s Kevin Tao, who upset Binghamton’s No. 3 seed Donnie Vinson at 149 pounds, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-3 win over Navy’s Raymond Borja. Tao will now face Missouri’s Houdashelt in the quarters.

• At 157 pounds, two unseeded wrestlers remained alive. Northern Iowa’s David Bonin advanced with a 4-0 win over Missouri’s Kyle Bradley, who defeated Nebraska’s James Green earlier. Boise State’s unseeded George Ivanov beat Indiana’s Taylor Walsh, who upset Lehigh’s No. 3 Joey Napoli in the first round. The other unseeded wrestler alive at 157 is Ohio State’s Demas.

• At 174 pounds, Iowa State’s unseeded Tanner Weatherman beat his second seeded wrestler of the day in a wild 16-14 decision against Illinois’s No. 7 Jordan Blanton. Earlier, he defeated Michigan’s No 10 Dan Yates.

• At 184 pounds, Pitt’s Max Thomusseit ignored his non-seed and upset Nebraska’s No. 8 Josh Ihnen, 3-1. Earlier, the Panther defeated Oklahoma State’s No. 9 Chris Chionuma.