Ohio State powers into lead on wild Day 1 at NCAA Championships

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | March 19, 2015, 9:25 p.m. (ET)
Three-time champion Logan Stieber takes control in his 141-pound match at the NCAA Championships on Thursday night. Larry Slater photo.

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ST. LOUIS – Big Ten co-champion Ohio State is your leader.

But there is a long list of schools still firmly in position to make a run at the title after Day 1 of the 85th NCAA Wrestling Championships on Thursday night before 18,414 fans at the Scottrade Center.

The quarterfinals of the three-day event are set for 10 a.m. Friday in St. Louis and will be televised by ESPNU. The semifinals will be at 6 p.m. Friday and be shown on ESPN.

The Buckeyes lead with 23 points. Ohio State pushed five wrestlers into Friday morning’s pivotal quarterfinal round. The Buckeyes have three athletes still alive in the wrestlebacks.

“It’s the national tournament – you have some big wins and some heartbreaking losses,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “We’ve got a huge round in the morning. We need to go 5-0 in the quarterfinals and we need to go 8-0 overall.”

Second-ranked Iowa, seeking its 24th title, sits in second place with 21 points. The Hawkeyes advanced five to the quarterfinals and have three alive in the wrestlebacks. Third-seeded heavyweight Bobby Telford bounced back from a first-round loss to cap Iowa’s day with a 39-second pin in the wrestlebacks.

“We’re not done – we’re still scrapping,” said Iowa’s Thomas Gilman, who reached the 125 quarters with a 3-1 overtime win over Penn State’s Jordan Conaway. “This team has plenty of fight left in it. It’s huge to get wins like this to score points on the front side of the bracket.”

No. 7 Oklahoma State, winners of 34 NCAA titles, is in third place with 19.5 points and five wrestlers reaching the quarterfinals.

“It was a good day,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “It’s a competitive tournament and a lot of high seeds are going down. We got two or three upsets today and that really makes a difference. Today was a good day, but tomorrow gets tougher.”

Four-time defending champion Penn State is in fourth place with 18.5 points. The Nittany Lions have five wrestlers in the quarters. Penn State went 12-2 on the opening day, suffering its only two losses in overtime.

Top-ranked Missouri is tied for fifth with 18 points. The Tigers have three in the quarters and nine still alive overall.

“It’s the first day and we have nine guys still in it,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “We can still accomplish some great things. We still have three guys who can be national champions and we have six guys on the backside who can be All-Americans. We lost some heartbreakers today, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”

Nebraska is tied for fifth with 18 points. The Huskers have three in the quarters, including No. 1 seed Robert Kokesh (174) and three-time All-American James Green (157).

Missouri and Ohio State are seeking their first team titles.

Third-ranked Minnesota, looking for its fourth title, is in 11th with 14 points, but the Gophers have four All-Americans in the quarters. No. 5 Cornell is in seventh place with 17.5 points and three in the quarters.

Three-time NCAA champion and No. 1 seed Logan Stieber of Ohio State built an early 9-0 lead before pinning No. 16 Mike Morales of West Virginia in the second round at 141 pounds.

Stieber is looking to join Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith, Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson and Cornell’s Kyle Dake as four-time NCAA champions.

“I felt good, really good,” said Stieber, who has won his last 47 matches. “I just wanted to score points, have fun, give the fans something, and get a pin for the team.”

Two-time NCAA champion and unseeded Jesse Delgado of Illinois dropped a 4-2 decision to American’s David Terao at 125. Delgado has missed most of his senior season with an injury.

“This is exciting,” Terao said. “I had a lot of fans cheering for me and that pumped me up. I came in with a strategy and I executed it. I know I have it in me to win these matches. It was a big win for me. Now I need to get ready to go for tomorrow.”

West Virginia’s unseeded Zeke Moisey jumped out to a 4-0 lead en route to earning a stunning 5-2 win over No. 2 seed and returning runner-up Nahshon Garrett of Cornell at 125. Moisey is a freshman competing for past World champion Sammie Henson for the Mountaineers.

“I wanted to get to his legs and I accomplished that,” Moisey said. “I got a turn off the first takedown, which was big for me. I knew I had to slow him down and try to frustrate him.”

Third-seeded Lavion Mayes of Missouri dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to No. 14 Dean Heil of Oklahoma State at 141. Heil fired in on a double leg shot and finished for a match-ending takedown.

No. 13 C.J. Cobb of Penn started strong before holding off No. 4 Brandon Sorensen of Iowa 4-3 at 149. Sorensen scored a takedown to tie it 3-3 with a minute left, but Cobb escaped and then used strong defense to prevail.

Returning champions Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern (149), Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State (165), J’den Cox of Missouri (197) and Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State (285) all advanced to the quarters.

“I’m feeling really good,” Dieringer said. “I just need to stay aggressive and keep attacking. Our team is wrestling really well and that’s exciting. We just need to keep it going.”

Cox and fellow top-seeded teammates Alan Waters (125) and Drake Houdashelt (149) all reached the quarters. Cox is 35-0 this season and has won his last 55 matches.

Total attendance for the first two sessions was 36,797.

NCAA Championships
March 19-21, Scottrade Center, St. Louis

Team scoring (top 10)

Ohio State 23, Iowa 21, Oklahoma State 19.5, Penn State 18.5, Missouri 18, Nebraska 18, Cornell 17.5, Illinois 16.5, Michigan 15, Virginia Tech 15