By Jason Bryant NWCA
Manheim, Pennsylvania – For Nebraska’s James Green, it was a short trip over the river. For Northwestern’s Mike McMullan, just a 90 minute drive south. The two regional natives were voted the Outstanding Wrestlers at the 2014 NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marine Corps and the Wrestlers in Business Network hosted by Penn and WIBN-Philadelphia on Saturday night in Philadelphia at the historic Palestra in front of 5,284 fans.
McMullan won a rubber match against N.C. State’s returning NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski 8-4 at 285 pounds, while Green topped Kent State’s Ian Miller 6-4 at 157 pounds.
McMullan’s win over Gwiazdowski was one of two matches that featured No. 2-ranked wrestlers knocking off defending NCAA champions. At 197 pounds, Minnesota’s Scott Schiller picked off top-ranked J’Den Cox 5-3 in sudden victory at 197.
The difference-maker in McMullan’s win was a late second-period throw that gave McMullan two for the takedown and two nearfall points to break open a tight match.
“I got to my offense and felt crisp for it being the first time out,” said McMullan. “I know that I can be more diligent on my attacks and that will get me to where I want to be in March.”
It was McMullan’s first win in three tries in the All-Star Classic. He lost to Dom Bradley of Missouri in 2012 and Tony Nelson of Minnesota in 2013.
Green’s bout with high-octane Miller wasn’t expected to be similar to the 13-1 major decision Green laid on Miller in last year’s third-place match at the NCAA Division I Championships. Miller struck first, scoring a takedown midway through the first period. The restart came back neutral after the two went out of bounds, giving Miller the option to put Green neutral in one of two experimental rules put in place for just the event. Tied at 4-4 heading into the third, Green rode out Miller, picking up a riding time point and a stalling point for the final margin.
The experimental rule again changed things up at 197 pounds as Schiller benefitted from the rule, which eventually forced overtime. Schiller would finish a takedown halfway through sudden victory to knock off Cox in the first-ever meeting between the two.
“I had a great summer of training,” said Schiller. “I credit a lot my success to my great partners I got at Minnesota. I know there’s not a room like it in the country for the partners I got and I credit my shape and being ready to wrestle, being focused – those guys keep me that way every single day in the wrestling room or else I’d get my butt kicked.”
One of the biggest draws was the expected matchup at 141 pounds between three-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber of Ohio State and Mitchell Port of Edinboro. The match never occurred as Stieber was scratched from the event after weigh-ins.
Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp avenged last year’s loss at the All-Star Classic to Lehigh’s Mason Beckman with a 4-2 win at 133 pounds. Schopp scored a takedown with 15 seconds to go to take a 3-2 lead. He added the final point on riding time after riding Beckman out for the entire second period.
Returning NCAA champion Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State’s debut at his new weight class went well as he topped two-time All-American Nick Sulzer of Virginia 4-2 at 165 pounds.
Another returning champion, Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, controlled Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig 4-1 at 149 pounds in a rematch of last year’s Division I championship final.
Robert Kokesh of Nebraska fell behind early to Southern Oregon’s Brock Gutches at 174 pounds, but then Kokesh turned up the pressure and eventually pulled out an 8-2 win at 174 pounds. It was the first time since 2004 an NAIA athlete has competed in the main event.
Top-ranked Gabe Dean of Cornell won a rematch of the 184-pound third place match from 2014 with a 5-2 win over Jack Dechow of Old Dominion. Missouri’s Alan Waters, a late replacement for Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett, earned a takedown out of a scramble to top Virginia Tech’s Joey Dance 4-2 in a battle of NCAA fourth-place finishers.
Highlighting the showcase matches was Helen Maroulis’ win in women’s freestyle over Canada’s Jillian Gallays in a battle of world medalists. Maroulis went up 4-0 and nearly pinned Gallays early. She finished with three more takedowns to finish up with the technical fall at the end of the first period.
Other winners in the showcase bouts were Drexel’s Kevin Devoy at 133, Princeton’s Jordan Laster at 141, Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter at 149 and Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas at 184.
The 2015 NWCA All-Star Classic, which will be the 50th, will take place in Atlanta, Georgia.
NWCA ALL-STAR CLASSIC
The Palestra, Philadelphia, Pa.
165: #1 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) DEC #2 Nick Sulzer (Virginia) 4-2.
174: #2 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) DEC Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon) 8-2
184: #1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) DEC #2 Jack Dechow (Old Dominion) 5-2.
197: #2 Scott Schiller (Minnesota) DEC #1 J’Den Cox (Missouri) 5-3, SV
285: #2 Mike McMullan (Northwestern) DEC #1 Nick Gwiazdowski (N.C. State) 8-4.
125: #3 Alan Waters (Missouri) DEC #5 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech) 4-3.
149: #1 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) DEC #3 Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State) 4-1.
157: #2 James Green (Nebraska) DEC #3 Ian Miller (Kent State) 6-4
133: #1 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) DEC #2 Mason Beckman (Lehigh) 4-2.
141: No Match – #1 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. # 2 Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
133: Kevin Devoy (Drexel) DEC Alex Gomez (Ithaca) 9-4
141: Jordan Laster (Princeton) DEC Ryan Diehl (Liberty) 10-7
149: Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) DEC C.J. Cobb (Penn) 17-11
184: Lorenzo Thomas (Penn) TF Clint Morrison (Rider) 16-1
Women’s FS 58kg: Helen Maroulis (USA) TF Jillian Gallays (Canada) 10-0, 2:59.