Salazar, VomBaur Reach Quarterfinals of NCAA Championships

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two Gophers are into the quarterfinals, and seven Minnesota wrestlers in all made it to Friday after the opening day of the NCAA Championships at the T-Mobile Center Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.

Senior Isaiah Salazar and redshirt sophomore Vance VomBaur both went 2-0 on the day to reach the quarters at 184 and 141 pounds, respectively. Five others sported 1-1 records to continue their postseason journey through the consolation bracket. As a team, the Gophers are tied for 22nd with 8.0 points, while Penn State leads with 34.5 points.

The No. 2 seed at 184, Salazar is through to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. He prevailed in his opening round match, 2-1, over No. 31 Tony Negron of Arizona State, thanks to a third-period escape plus riding time. Salazar then needed overtime to take care of No. 18 Ryder Rogotzke of Ohio State in the Round of 16. The match was tied 1-1 after seven minutes of action, but Salazar got the sudden-victory takedown to win 4-1 and push his winning streak to 17 matches.

Salazar, who will face Virginia Tech’s No. 7 Thomas Stewart Jr. in the quarterfinals, has outscored opponents 149-19 during his winning streak and has given up two points or fewer in 15 of those 17 matches.

VomBaur is heading to the quarterfinals in his first career NCAA Championships. He began with an upset of seventh-ranked Cael Happel of Northern Iowa. VomBaur trailed 3-2 through two periods but forced overtime at 5-5. There, VomBaur got the takedown to propel himself into the second round. In the Round of 16, VomBaur dominated No. 23 Danny Fongaro of Indiana in a 5-0 shutout that featured over 2:30 of riding time for the Greeley, Colo., native.

VomBaur will face second-seeded Beau Bartlett of Penn State in the quarterfinals.

After dispatching No. 24 Kysen Terukina of Iowa State in the opening round at 125 pounds, 5-3, sixth-year senior and ninth-ranked Patrick McKee suffered his first major decision loss of the season when he fell, 16-4, to No. 8 Richard Figueroa of Arizona State in the Round of 16. McKee moves to the consolation bracket and will face No. 23 Tanner Jordan of South Dakota State on Friday morning.

Like McKee, fellow sixth-year senior Michael Blockhus started his day with a win before dropping down to the consolation bracket. The No. 13 seed at 157 pounds, Blockhus won a hard-fought 6-4 match over Lehigh’s No. 20 Max Brignola thanks in part to a strong ride in the third period. Moving to the Round of 16, Blockhus was topped by No. 4 Ed Scott from North Carolina State and took his first major decision loss of the year in a 19-8 setback. Blockhus gets Iowa State’s No. 14 Cody Chittum in round two of the consolation bracket Friday morning.

Garrett Joles joined his fellow sixth-year seniors in winning his first match before dropping his second. Joles, seeded 22nd, picked up the second upset of the opening round for Minnesota when he toppled No. 11 Jaxon Smith of Maryland. Tied at 4-4 after a Smith takedown in the second period, Joles used a reversal to pull ahead and hold on for a 6-5 victory. In the Round of 16, Joles was bested by No. 6 Lou DePrez of Binghamton, 5-1.

True freshman Tyler Wells picked up his first career win at the NCAA Championships, going 1-1 on the day. Seeded 20th, Wells dropped his opening match to No. 13 Kurt Phipps of Bucknell, 5-3, but he bounced back in the consolation bracket with a 7-3 decision over No. 29 Jace Koelzer of Oklahoma to stay alive. Wells has earned a matchup with No. 14 seed Jacob Van Dee of Nebraska on Friday morning.

Senior Andrew Sparks also made it to Friday after opening with a loss at 174 pounds. The No. 24 seed, Sparks was defeated by three-time national champion and No. 9 seed Carter Starocci of Penn State in the first round, but he kept his tournament alive with an 11-4 victory over No. 25 Brayden Thompson of Oklahoma State. Sparks built a 7-2 lead through two periods, then used two nearfall points, an escape, and riding time to clinch the win. Sparks draws Penn’s No. 10 Nick Incontrera in the next round.

Three Gophers saw their championship runs end Thursday night.

Redshirt sophomore Drew Roberts dropped a pair of matches at 149 pounds. Seeded at No. 23, Roberts opened with a 7-2 loss to No. 10 Chance Lamer of Cal Poly and then was defeated by No. 7 Tyler Kasak of Penn State in a 19-8 major decision.

At 165 pounds, redshirt sophomore and No. 27 seed Blaine Brenner suffered losses to No. 6 Michael Caliendo of Iowa, 11-2, and to 11th-seeded Andrew Cerniglia of Navy, 6-0.

Heavyweight Bennett Tabor was 0-2 as the No. 31 seed. He was pinned by No. 2 Yonger Bastida of Iowa State at the 1:50 mark of their match before a 16-8 major decision loss to Rider’s No. 18 David Szuba ended his evening.

Session III of the NCAA Championships starts Friday morning at 11 a.m. with championship quarterfinals and consolations with TV coverage on ESPNU. Session IV will begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN with the semifinals and blood round.

Results through Sessions I and II

125 Pounds
First Round: #9 Patrick McKee dec. #24 Kysen Turekina (Iowa State), 9-4
Round of 16: #8 Richard Figueroa (Arizona State) MD #9 Patrick McKee, 16-4

133 Pounds
First Round: #13 Kurt Phipps (Bucknell) dec. #20 Tyler Wells, 5-3
Consolation – R1: #20 Tyler Wells dec. #29 Jace Koelzer (Oklahoma), 7-3

141 Pounds
First Round: #26 Vance VomBaur dec. #7 Cael Happel (Northern Iowa), 8-5 SV1
Round of 16: #26 Vance VomBaur dec. #23 Danny Fongaro (Indiana), 5-0

149 Pounds
First Round: #10 Chance Lamer (Cal Poly) dec. #23 Drew Roberts, 7-2
Consolation – R1: #7 Tyler Kasak (Penn State) MD #23 Drew Roberts, 14-5

157 Pounds
First Round: #13 Michael Blockhus dec. #20 Max Brignola (Lehigh), 6-4
Round of 16: #4 Ed Scott (NC State) MD #13 Michael Blockhus, 19-8

165 Pounds
First Round: #6 Michael Caliendo (Iowa) MD #27 Blaine Brenner, 11-2
Consolation – R1: #11 Andrew Cergniglia (Navy) dec. #27 Blaine Brenner, 6-0

174 Pounds
First Round: #9 Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. #24 Andrew Sparks, 12-6
Consolation – R1: #24 Andrew Sparks dec. #25 Brayden Thompson (Oklahoma State), 11-4

184 Pounds
First Round: #2 Isaiah Salazar dec. #31 Tony Negron (Arizona State), 2-1
Round of 16: #2 Isaiah Salazar dec. #18 Ryder Rogotzke (Ohio State), 4-1 SV1

197 Pounds
First Round: #22 Garrett Joles dec. #11 Jaxon Smith (Maryland), 6-5
Round of 16: #6 Lou DePrez (Binghamton) dec. #22 Garrett Joles, 5-1

Heavyweight
First Round: #2 Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) fall #31 Bennett Tabor, 1:50
Consolation – R1: #18 David Szuba (Rider) MD #31 Bennett Tabor, 16-8

Check out Gopher Wrestling at gophersports.com and on Facebook, X (Twitter), and Instagram. Buy Gopher Tickets

View More College News

Would you like to receive the latest Minnesota wrestling news in your inbox?