Ninth ranked Oklahoma finished the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships sending three wrestlers to compete in the semi-finals and guaranteeing those three All-America honors. The Sooners made a huge leap in the team standings, moving from ninth place to third with 44.5 points tied with Nebraska at the end of the quarterfinals.
“Overall a very good round for us,” Oklahoma head coach Jack Spates said. “We send three guys to the semis, three guaranteed All-Americans and three top six place finishers.”
For the third time in this tournament fifth ranked Sam Hazewinkel started off the contest for the Sooners at 125 pounds. Hazewinkel looked focused in his 12-5 decision of Mario Stuart of Lehigh. Hazewinkel mounted an 8-3 lead after two periods, and then cruised through the third period scoring four more points. Next up for Hazewinkel is top seeded Jason Powell of Nebraska in the semi-finals.
“Sammy upset Powell in the Big 12 finals,” Spates said. “So we are 1-1 against him. We’re going to go in it believing we can win.”
In the 133-pound consolation bracket Mimi Miller won a do-or-die match against Matt Ciasulli of Lehigh. Ciasulli scored the first points of the match with a takedown. Miller kicked it in to gear and scored the next four points to take the lead and never give it up. After 1:55 of riding time Miller won the match 7-4.
In a return match of last years 141-pound NCAA final Teyon Ware faced off with Dylan Long of Northern Iowa. The match was controversial with Ware leading 4-3 in the last seconds of the match. The Northern Iowa bench wanted a stalling call on Ware that would have evened the score. The referee saw it differently and made no call with time expiring. Ware hung on to win the close match and advance to the semi-finals. Ware will wrestle Matt Murray of Nebraska next in the semi-final round.
“Teyon has been struggling with his confidence,” Spates said. “He dug deep and beat the guy he defeated in the national finals last year. That was huge.”
The second Sooner to wrestle in the consolation bracket was Jeff Ecklof at 149 pounds. Ecklof made quick work of Carren McKnight of Michigan State pinning him in 2:42. Ecklof scored three takedowns in the first period before getting the fall.
The only loss of the third round of competition for Oklahoma came at 174 pounds. E.K. Waldhaus lost a heartbreaker with one second remaining in the match. Waldhaus was leading 3-2 and trying to hold on for the victory. Waldhaus let his guard down and Ed Pawlak of Buffalo took advantage and scored the takedown with one-second left to win the match 4-3 and end Waldhaus’ NCAA run.
Senior Leonce Crump stayed true to form never trailing in his heavyweight match against fifth seeded Cole Konrad of Minnesota. The match was close at one point being tied at 2 apiece after two periods. Crump finished the third period with three more points to win the match 5-3 and advance to wrestle top seeded Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State in the semi-finals.
The Sooners had two wrestlers battle in the third round of the consolation bracket. Miller lost a rough match only to riding time against Sam Hiatt of Northern Illinois, 7-6, ending his tournament run. Ecklof pulled out the last victory for Oklahoma in the session by defeating Big 12 foe Trent Paulson of Iowa State. The match was close and ended in a tie. In the tiebreaker Ecklof got the escape and held off Paulson from escaping to claim the win and advance to take on David Dies of Brown in the fourth round of the wrestlebacks.
”For the most part we are having a really good tournament,” Spates said. “I am real proud of our guys.”
Oklahoma will return to action for the semi-finals of the NCAA Championships on Friday at 6 p.m.
For live updates and full results go to www.ncaasports.com.
125 Sam Hazewinkel (OU) dec. Mario Stuart (Lehigh) 12-5
141 Teyon Ware (OU) dec. Dylan Long (Northern Iowa) 4-3
HWT Leonce Crump (OU) dec. Cole Konrad (Minnesota) 5-3
133 Mimi Miller (OU) dec. Matt Ciasulli (Lehigh) 7-4
149 Jeff Ecklof (OU) fall Carren McKnight (Michigan State) 2:42
174 Ed Pawlak (Buffalo) dec. E.K. Waldhaus (OU) 4-3
133 Sam Hiatt (Northern Illinois) dec. Mimi Miller (OU) 7-6
149 Jeff Ecklof (OU) dec. Trent Paulson (Iowa State) 5-4 TB