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NCAA Division I Championships Session 2 Recap

Andrew Hipps and Mark Palmer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Day One of the 2006 NCAA Division I Championships is now in the books, and for the two top teams, Oklahoma State and Minnesota, it was a Tale of Two Teams. For the Cowboys, it was the best of times, with Oklahoma State wrestlers writing a great day for themselves, sending Cowboy fans into delirium repeatedly. By contrast, it may not have been the worst of times for Minnesota ? but, for the Golden Gophers, there were some bad breaks along the way.

Oklahoma State advanced six into the quarterfinals, including all four returning NCAA champs ? all who got pins. Zack Esposito, seeded third at 149, recorded his second pin of the day against Morgan Atkinson of Cal State Fullerton at 4:25. Esposito will now face sixth-seeded Jon Masa of Hofstra in the quarterfinals, which is a rematch of their 2005 NCAA quarterfinals. Johny Hendricks, the second seed at 165, dispatched Garrett Atkinson of North Carolina at 5:52. Hendricks will now face The Citadel's Cinderella story, Daniel Thompson, who scored a big upset pin over 2004 NCAA champ Troy Letters of Lehigh. Jake Rosholt, who had a bit of a scare in his opening round match when he was put on his back, wasted little time in pinning Old Dominion's Adam Wright. He will now face familiar conference foe in Oklahoma's Joel Flaggart, a fifth-seeded wrestler he's beaten four times. The fourth Cowboy to win by pin was heavyweight Steve Mocco, defending heavyweight champ, got the fall over Andrew Patrick of Boise State at 1:30. Next in line for the for the second seeded Cowboy big guy: Jake Hager of Oklahoma, the same wrestler he beat for the Big 12 title two weeks ago.

In addition, Nathan Morgan (133) and Brandon Mason (174) also advanced into the quarterfinals.

By contrast, Minnesota's second session was not as successful. After losing two of their seeded wrestlers in the opening session, the news got worse. The biggest blow came at 157, whem second seed CP Schkatter was upset by freshman Andrew Flanagan of Harvard 5-3. All scoring took place in the third period, Flanagan got an escape and a takedown; Schlatter answered with an escaped and takedown of his own to tie the score. But Flanagan, the EIWA champ, escaped and added a point riding time for the win, dashing Minnesota's expectations.

Nine of the ten top seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. The one who didn't:
Central Michigan's Wynn Michalak, who was upset by Chris Weidman of Hofstra, a 14-11 wrestler who was unseeded. Weidman scored two takedowns and a near fall in the first period, and led the entire match. Final score: 10-7.

Two of the nine No. 1 seeds found themselves in unfamiliar territory at some point in their Thursday evening matches. One of the most dominating wrestlers in the country, Ben Askren, was losing to Oklahoma's Wes Roberts, 2-1, in the second period. However, the Missouri 174-pounder came back in the end with a takedown to end the match 6-4. Then, at 184, Josh Glenn of American had almost more than he could handle with Ro n Howard of Cleveland State, who scored near fall points to make it close. However, Glenn scored a takedown in the final seconds to force overtime. In the tiebreaker period, Glenn scored an escape and near fall points for a final score of 14-10.

One of the biggest upsets of second session took place at 157 when unseeded Michael Chandler of Missouri scored a third period reversal to knock off No. 4 seed Matt Lebe of West Virginia, 3-2.

Another fourth seed, Nick Baima of Northern Iowa, who won the Midlands title this season at 165, injury defaulted in 24 seconds to Johnny Galloway of Northern Illinois.

Alex Tirapelle reached a milestone in wrestling history when he became the winningest wrestler in University of Illinois history. In his first match, the 157 pounder tied his brother Adam's record in 127 wins. His second session victory ? a 8-2 decision over Matt Hill of Edinboro -- put him in the history books for the Fighting Illini.

At 141, Illinois' Casio Pero and Michael Keefe of Tennessee-Chattanooga -- who were both returning All Americans -- found themselves in a pigtail consolation bout. The seventh-seeded Pero won 9-6, eliminating the No. 5 Keefe from further competition.

In a Battle of the Bradleys -- Paul vs. Eric, both returning All-Americans at 184 -- eighth seed Eric Bradley of Penn State came out on top of the Iowa wrestler, 7-4.

The attendance for the second session was 15,752.

Five questions with Purdue's Chris Fleeger:

Chris Fleeger of Purdue, a two-time All-American, was academically ineligible for much of the past two seasons. The Pennsylvania native finished third in 2003 and was an NCAA runner-up in 2004. Prior to the Big Tens two weekends ago, he looked like a sure-fire NCAA finalist. But a disappointing Big Tens, where he injured his toe and lost to Clum, dropped him down to the No. 5 seed here at the NCAA Championships.

RevWrestling.com caught up with Fleeger shortly after the opening day.

Chris, you've had two dominating victories thus far. Your thoughts on the way you wrestled on the opening day?

Fleeger: I feel good. My shape feels pretty good and my foot is holding up. There are some pretty tough kids. They're scrappy. You don't really know them because you don't see them during the year. But I felt like I wrestled well. This just leads me to the tougher matches.

You injured your toe at the Big Ten Championships. What exactly is the extent of the injury?

I thought that I broke it, it hurt so bad. I just have real bad reverse turf toe. The joint is pretty swollen. I had a cortisone injection. I've been rehabbing, taped it up, so it can bend. It kinds of hurts my mobility, which I what kind of live on. But that's really not an excuse right now. Everyone came into this tournament banged up. I don't think there is one wrestler out there who is one-hundred percent. If I lose, I lose. If I win, I win. I shouldn't even be talking about it.

How has it affected your preparation for this event?

Well, I forfeited out of the Big Tens to rest it up. I'm just rehabbing it hard. I didn't go real hard on in practices. I just rested, rested, rested. That's all you can do.

You've been in the NCAA finals before, yet you came into this event seeded No. 5. Do you feel like you have something to prove?

I knew that you would ask me that question. It doesn't really matter to me. I said that to my coaches. I forfeited to sixth place to rest my toe. I think it was a smart thing to do. It put me on the same side as the No. 1 seed, and I'll have the No. 4 seed right away, but you have to beat them to win it. I'm here to win it. I'm not here to get on the podium in eighth place. I've been in the finals. I've been. I want the gold. I don't care where they put me. I don't care if they put me with the one, two, three, four seeds right off the bat, I don't care. Line them up. If they beat me, they beat me. I'm hear to wrestle.

You face Mack Reiter of Minnesota, a returning All-American, in the quarterfinals. What are your thoughts heading into that match-up?

Fleeger: I've watched him a few times. He's a young, scrappy kid. I'm not sure how I match up with him. You never really know until you get out there. I'm not scared of anyone. If he beats me, he beats me. I'm just going to go out there and give it my all. I'm sure that he will to. I'm looking forward to it.

Team Standings (After Session 2):

1. Oklahoma State -- 36.5
2. Oklahoma -- 24.5
3. Edinboro/Hofstra -- 22.5
5. Michigan/Nebraska/Minnesota -- 22

Session II Results

Session 2 Results



Posted March 17th, 2006. Filed under Amateur Wrestling

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