The team race at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships have heated to a boiling point after the quarterfinal round. This, the third session of the tournament, set the field for the semifinals, and left the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State within striking distance of first place, where Penn State currently resides. Minnesota only trails Penn State by two team points, and both teams have four wrestlers in the semifinals.
At 125 pounds, Dylan Peters of Northern Iowa, Nico Megaludis of Penn State, and Nahshon Garrett of Cornell, opened the quarterfinals with victories. In the other quarterfinal,Jesse Delgado, 125 pound defending national champ, defeated Cory Clark of Iowa to make a second straight national semifinals.
"Jesse is the model of what we are looking for in an Illinois wrestler," University of Illinois associate head coach Mark Perry told SB Nation. "Not necessarily in terms of style, we don't worry much about that, but in terms of commitment. As far as he sees it, he has fourteen minutes of wrestling left for a national championship, and we are very confident, we think he is better than every opponent in all three positions."
In the second set of quarterfinals, the 133 pound weight class held to seed, as the top four seeded wrestlers advanced to the semis. Joe Colon of Northern Iowa, Tyler Graff of Wisconsin, Tony Ramos of Iowa and A.J. Schopp of Edinboro all sit one match short of a berth in the finals.
Next, at 141 pounds, North Carolina's Evan Henderson shocked the nation with an upset win over top seeded Mitchell Port of Edinboro. Devin Carter of Virginia Tech, Zain Retherford of Penn State Logan Stieber of Ohio State also claimed quarterfinal wins.
Then, in the 149 pound quarterfinals, Oklahoma's defending national champ Kendric Maple fell to freshman Alex Tsirtsis of Northwestern. Also, Lehigh's Mitchell Minotti became a surprise semifinalist by beating Virginia Tech's Zach Neibert. Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State and Drake Houdashelt of Missouri won their quarterfinal matches as well.
The fifth round of quarters, at 157 pounds, saw a pair of Earth shaking upsets. Cornell freshman brian Realbuto downed defending national champ Derek St. John of Iowa, and Dylan Ness pinned one seed James Green. Ian Miller of Kent State and Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State won the other two quarterfinal matches.
After the craziness of 157 pounds, the 165 pound weight class went according to script. The one, two and four seeds advanced in David Taylor of Penn State, Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State, and Steven Monk of North Dakota State. Nick Sulzer of Virginia edged out The Citadel's tough Turtogtokh Luvsandorj in his quarterfinal, Sulzer will be UVA's sole representative in the semifinals.
"It's huge, any time you get the blue, orange and crossed sabres on ESPN in the national semifinals, it's great marketing for our program." University of Virginia associate head coach Alex Clemsen shared with SB Nation after Sulzer's quarterfinal win. "But it's particularly great with a kid like Nick, who is about as good a kid as you are ever going to get."
The tough 174 pound weight class saw the top two seeds, Chris Perry of Oklahoma State and Andrew Howe of Wisconsin, advanced to the semis. Michael Evans of Iowa, and Logan Storley of Minnesota both notched minor upsets in their quarterfinal victories
In college wrestling's third heaviest weight, Old Dominion's Jack Dechow became a shock semifinalist as he defeated Brown's Ophir Bernstein. Meanwhile the top three seeds all won, as Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock, Penn State's Ed Ruth and Cornell's Gabe Dean made the semifinals.
While Dechow defied the odds at 184, the biggest cinderella story of the tournament belongs to Virginia Tech 197 pounder Chris Penny. The Hokie Senior beat Iowa's Nathan Burak for a spot in the semis. Nick Heflin of Ohio State, Scott Schiller of Minnesota and J'Den Cox of Missouri became the other semifinalists.
In the final set of quarterfinals, Iowa's 285 pound Bobby Telford registered a close and contentious win over Michigan's Adam Coon. Indiana's Adam Chalfant and North Carolina State's Nick Gwiazdowski also won their quarterfinals. Last but not least, two time defending national champ, Tony Nelson, capped off a great round for Minnesota with a pin of Wisconsin's Connor Medberry.
Quarterfinal - Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) 29-4 won by fall over Connor Medbery (Wisconsin) 26-8 (Fall 1:26)
Quarterfinal - Bobby Telford (Iowa) 25-5 won in tie breaker - 2 over Adam Coon (Michigan) 32-4 (TB-2 3-2)
Quarterfinal - Adam Chalfant (Indiana) 28-3 won by decision over Austin Marsden (Oklahoma St.) 22-7 (Dec 3-2)
Quarterfinal - Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina St.) 41-2 won by decision over Mike McClure (Michigan St.) 29-8 (Dec 4-1)
"It goes down to what we've been telling our kids all year." University of Minnesota assistant coach Luke Becker told SB Nation. "Sometimes you're going to be the lower seeded wrestler, and sometimes stuff isn't going to go as well for our higher seeded guys, but you just have to go out there and keep wrestling. I think we did that this round."
Jesse Delgado (Illinois) vs Dylan Peters (UNI)
Nicholas Megaludis (Penn St.) vs Nahshon Garrett (Cornell)
Joe Colon (UNI) vs Tyler Graff (Wisconsin)
Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs Aaron (A.J.) Schopp (Edinboro
Evan Henderson (North Carolina) vs Devin Carter (Virginia Tech)
Zain Retherford (Penn St.) vs Logan Stieber (Ohio St.)
Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) vs Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern)
Joshua Kindig (Oklahoma St.) vs Mitchell Minotti (Lehigh)
Dylan Ness (Minnesota) vs Ian Miller (Kent St.)
Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma St.) vs Brian Realbuto (Cornell)
David Taylor (Penn St.) vs Steven Monk (North Dakota St.)
Nicholas Sulzer (Virginia) vs Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma St.)
Chris Perry (Oklahoma St.) vs Michael Evans (Iowa)
Logan Storley (Minnesota) vs Andrew Howe (Oklahoma)
Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) vs Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
Gabriel Dean (Cornell) vs Edward Ruth (Penn St.)
Nick Heflin (Ohio St.) vs Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
Chris Penny (Virginia Tech) vs J`Den Cox (Missouri)
Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) vs Bobby Telford (Iowa)
Adam Chalfant (Indiana) vs Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina St.)
Team Scores after session III