PITTSBURGH – The University of Minnesota wrestling team finished up day one of the 2019 NCAA Championships tied for 4th place as a team and the Gophers still have all eight wrestlers alive in the tournament
Four Gophers won both of their matches on the day to remain on the championship side and in contention for an NCAA title. As a team, the Gophers (14-3, 7-3 B1G) sit behind Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa with 20 team points. They are currently tied with Oklahoma State.
Sean Russell made his Gophers NCAA Championships debut with a 16-6 major decision in the team’s first bout of the day. The 125-pounder quickly got to his opponent, Missouri’s Dack Punke’s, left ankle before finishing the takedown and never looking back.
Russell used the same formula in his second match against Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski, again winning by major decision. Russell didn’t allow an offense point while once again attacking the left leg to get his takedowns and earn riding time.
Two-time All-American Ethan Lizak won both his first matches in his quest for yet another honor. Lizak won his first bout narrowly while showing off his skill on top, threatening back points and building riding time. In the second round, Lizak defeated another All-American from last year, North Carolina State’s Tariq Wilson, in a close decision that was decided, once again, by Lizak’s skill riding his opponents.
Pursuing a first career All-American honor, 141-pound Mitch McKee also won both his matches. McKee started with fireworks, notching his 10th pin of the season over Virginia’s Sam Krivus. McKee followed it up with a victory over Wyoming’s Sam Turner with his mother and brother in the stands.
Heavyweight Gable Steveson, bouncing back from his first collegiate loss at the Big Ten Championships, outscored his opposition 39-11 with all 11 points coming via escapes. Steveson stopped his first match early with an 18-3 technical fall before he put on an offensive showcase against Wyoming’s Brian Andrews.
Russell, Lizak, and McKee will face 2019 Big Ten finalists Spencer Lee, Nick Suriano, and Joey McKenna, respectively, in the quarterfinals on Friday morning. Steveson, will be facing the Pac-12 heavyweight champion, Amar Dhesi
Tommy Thorn, a 2017 All-American, got a last second reversal of Penn’s Anthony Artalona, the 13-seed, to advance out of the first round with an upset victory. Thorn then fell to four-seed Brock Mauller of Missouri in his second match of the day.
Thorn will face Requir van der Merwe from Stanford on Friday morning.
While he dominated the match and was well on his way to winning, 157-pound Steve Bleise got a takedown in the waning moments to notch the major decision and earn extra bonus points for the Gophers. Bleise fell to Old Dominion’s Larry Early in a close bout that came down to a last minute takedown by Early.
On Friday morning Bleise will face Justin Ruffin of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
In his first NCAA Championships in the Maroon and Gold, 174-pound Devin Skatzka won his first bout in dominant fashion with a 15-3 major decision over Lorenzo De La Riva of North Dakota State. Skatzka dropped his second bout after getting caught and pinned in the second period by Northern Iowa’s Taylor Lujan.
Skatzka will face North Carolina State’s Daniel Bullard.
After dropping his first bout to five-seed Chance Marsteller, Carson Brolsma bounced back with a 3-2 decision over 13-seed Ebed Jarrell of Drexel to keep his tournament hopes alive. As a first-time qualifier, it was his first career victory at the NCAA Championships. He remains alive on the consolation side and will face Michigan’s Logan Massa tomorrow morning.
The first session of action was attended by 17,949 while the evening session had 17,957 in attendance
NCAA Tournament Results (Day One)
125-pound Sean Russell (Six-seed)
Round of 32: Sean Russell major dec. (16-6) 27-seed Dack Punke (Missouri)
Round of 16: Sean Russell major dec. (10-1) 11-seed Travis Piotrowski (Illinois)
133-pound Ethan Lizak (Six-Seed)
Round of 32: Ethan Lizak dec. (3-1) 27-seed Anthony Cefelo (Rider)
Round of 16: Ethan Lizak dec. (5-4) 11-seed Tariq Wilson
141-pound Mitch McKee (Seven-seed)
Round of 32: Mitch McKee fall (5:00) 26-seed Sam Krivus (Virginia)
Round of 16: Mitch McKee decision (7-4) 23-seed Sam Turner (Wyoming)
149-pound Tommy Thorn (20-seed)
Round of 32: Tommy Thorn dec. (5-4) 13-seed Anthony Artalona (Penn)
Round of 16: Four-seed Brock Mauller (Missouri) dec. (5-1) Tommy Thorn
157-pound Steve Bleise (Ten-seed)
Round of 32: Steve Bleise major dec. (9-1) 23-seed Chase Straw (Iowa State)
Round of 16: Seven-seed Larry Early (Old Dominion) dec. (3-2) Steve Bleise
165-pound Carson Brolsma (28-seed)
Round of 32: Five-seed Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) major dec. (16-3) Carson Brolsma
Consolation Round 1: Carson Brolsma dec. (3-2) 13-seed Ebed Jarrell (Drexel)
174-pound Devin Skatzka (Nine-seed)
Round of 32: Devin Skatzka major decision (15-3) 24-seed Lorenzo De La Riva (North Dakota State)
Round of 16: Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa) fall (3:22) Devin Skatzka
Heavyweight Gable Steveson (Three-seed)
Round of 32: Gable Steveson tech. fall (18-3) 30-seed Zack Parker (Ohio)
Round of 16: Gable Steveson major dec. (21-8) Brian Andrews (Wyoming)