ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The 74th Annual Division One NCAA Championships got underway with first round competition on Thursday at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Mo. Ninth ranked Oklahoma qualified seven wrestlers for nationals, four of those freshmen. The Sooners claimed three of the six wildcards given to the Big 12 Conference. Six out of seven wrestlers advanced to the second round, fighting to stay alive in hopes of a national title. After completion of the first round the Sooners sit in fourth place tied with Cornell and Michigan at 14 points.
“I was very pleased with the round,” Oklahoma head coach Jack Spates said. “I thought for the most part we had a real good round. The guy who lost, Justin Dyer, wrestled extremely hard and aggressive. He lost a tough overtime bout to a good kid.”
Big 12 Champion Sam Hazewinkel started competition for the Sooners at 125 pounds with a big win. Hazewinkel started where he left off at the Big 12 Tournament picking up his sixth pin of the season over Casey Brewster of West Virginia in 4:18. Hazewinkel controlled the match throughout never giving up a point. After leading the match, 8-0, in the second period Hazewinkel scored the fall with 42 seconds left.
Freshman Mimi Miller followed Hazewinkel’s momentum and picked up a win of his own at 133 pounds. Miller won by a 9-2 decision against Quincy Osborn of Minnesota. Miller dominated the third period scoring seven points and only giving up two.
Defending national champion Teyon Ware won a thrilling match that went down to the wire at 141 pounds. Ware got a takedown with one second left in sudden death overtime against Anthony Coleman of Cleveland State to win the match by a 5-3 decision.
Jeff Ecklof, ranked 10th, scored his first and only points in his 149-pound match with a takedown with 40 seconds left in the first period. Ecklof held on allowing only an escape to Matt Anderson of Lehigh in the third period, but with 1:30 of riding time won the match 3-1.
Junior E.K. Waldhaus upset 12th seed Jon Duncombe of Minnesota by a 6-2 decision at 174 pounds. Waldhaus was behind 1-0 after two periods, then turned it on in the third and scored six points and only allowed one to pick up a big win for Oklahoma.
The only loss of the first round for Oklahoma came at 184 pounds. Freshman Justin Dyer fought a tough match only to lose in an overtime tiebreaker to Jerry Rinaldi of Cornell, 8-3.
Big 12 Champion Leonce Crump continued his dominance at heavyweight by picking up his 11th pin of the season, moving him in the lone spot for sixth place all-time on the career pin list, with 37. Crump took little time in defeating Tanner Garrett of Navy, pinning him in 1:12.
“For the most part it was a really good round,” Spates said. “I will take six out of seven wins and two pins anytime.”
Oklahoma will return to action for the second round of the NCAA Championships on Thursday night.
For live updates and full results go to www.ncaasports.com.