The last Gopher standing at the end of three grueling days of competition in Cleveland closed out Minnesota’s 2017-18 campaign
CLEVELAND, Ohio – After piling up four wins and bonus points for his team on Friday, Ethan Lizak closed out Minnesota’s season on Saturday at the NCAA Championships with a fourth-place finish at 125 pounds.
Lizak secured his second consecutive All-American finish on Friday night but improved his final position with a win in his first match on Saturday morning, one in which he avenged a loss in last year’s NCAA finals.
Lizak’s 5-2 victory over defending national champion and top-seeded Darian Cruz (Lehigh) put him through to the third-place match. After riding out the second period to build a considerable riding time advantage on his opponent, Lizak sealed the victory by taking down Cruz with 10 seconds left in their bout.
Just a short time later, he returned for his final match of the year. This was another opportunity to avenge a championship defeat, as Lizak drew No. 2 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) who, just two weeks ago, knocked off Lizak for the Big Ten’s 125-pound title. Lizak picked up the match’s opening takedown and used the riding time point to pull even with Tomasello, 6-6, at the end of regulation. After narrowly missing a takedown opportunity as the two went out of bounds in the extra period, Lizak surrendered a takedown and lost, 8-6. The loss locked Lizak into fourth place.
The conclusion of Session V also marked the end of the Gophers’ 2017-18 season. Heading into the final session of the tournament on Saturday night, Minnesota holds 17th place, with 27.5 team points. Final standings will be updated on GopherSports.com at the end of tonight’s action if needed.
“It’s tough because, coming into this tournament every year, we know where our expectations are. We always want to be contending for a national title,” said Head Coach Brandon Eggum. “You have to win some of those close matches. That can make a big difference.
“At the same time, I thought our guys wrestled great. They were in tough spots, but they battled very hard. Their effort and the way they represented the program, I thought that was exceptional.”
NCAA Championships – Day Three Results
125 – No. 8 Ethan Lizak
Cons Semis: No. 8 Ethan Lizak dec No. 1 Darian Cruz (Lehigh), 5-2
3rd Place: No. 2 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio St.) dec (SV-1) No. 9 Ethan Lizak, 8-6