March 21, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa - Maryland wrestlers Josh Asper and Jimmy Sheptock each won their first two matches on opening day of the 2013 NCAA Championships at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinal round.
Five Terrapins opened the day and four remain as Geoffrey Alexander and Christian Boley bounced back from opening round defeats and advanced with victories in the wrestleback. Asper and Sheptock will wrestle Friday morning for All-American status.
At 174, fifth-seeded Asper was dominant in his opening-round victory over Sam Wheeler of Kent State, while seventh-seeded Jimmy Sheptock easily advanced past Wyoming's Shane Woods.
Looking to earn All-American status for a third time, Asper kicked off the tournament with two takedowns in the first period against Wheeler. Asper earned 1:20 of riding time during the period, most of it coming at the end as he attempted to turn Wheeler.
A quick escape in the second period was followed by another Asper takedown late in the period. Wheeler did get two points back in the third period, but Asper advanced with a 9-3 decision.
Sheptock was as equally impressive at 184. The junior scored three takedowns in the first period to take a commanding 6-2 lead. Sheptock added two more takedowns in the third period to earn a 13-4 major decision over Woods.
In the round of 16, Asper had little trouble with Buffalo's John-Martin Cannon, who upset 12th-seeded Mat Miller of Navy in the first round. Asper set the tone with an early takedown and racked up 1:52 of riding time before Cannon escaped.
Asper recorded an escape in the second period and two takedowns in the third to win 8-3 with riding time. The senior will face fourth-seeded Robert Kokesh of Nebraska in the quarterfinals.
Sheptock advanced after grinding out a victory over 10th-seeded Jacob Swartz of Boise State. After a scoreless first period, the junior began the second in the down position and escaped for the first point of the match. Moments later, Sheptock connected on a double for the only takedown of the match.
Swartz scored an escape in the third period, but Sheptock successfully defended a couple shots by Swartz to earn a 3-2 decision. Sheptock gets second-seeded Ben Bennett of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals. Bennett defeated Sheptock by 1-0 margin at Midlands in December.
Alexander and Boley continued Maryland's winning ways in the wrestleback. Alexander opened the tournament in the 133-pound pigtail and defeated Cal Poly's Devon Lotito, 6-4.
Alexander scored a takedown against Lotito a minute into the match, but Lotito scored a reverse to begin the second period to tie the match at 3-3 after Alexander escaped. Alexander started down in the third period and escaped quickly to go up 4-3.
Needing a takedown, Lotito left himself open and Alexander took him down with a little over a minute left to earn a 6-4 decision.
In the round of 32, Alexander met third-seeded Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. Graff was a little too much for Alexander. The Badger defeated Alexander 13-4 dropping him into the wrestleback.
In the wrestleback, Alexander met Boise State's Brian Owen in what turned out to be a defensive affair. After no scoring in the first two periods, Alexander earned an escape with 48 seconds and held off Owen for the 1-0 decision. Alexander advances to face Binghamton's Derek Steeley.
Boley ran into 10th-seeded Scott Schiller of Minnesota and lost a 10-1 major decision to the Golden Gopher to open his tournament at 197. In the wrestleback, Boley faced a familiar foe in Conner Hartmann of Duke, who he defeated two weeks ago at the ACC Championships.
Sudden victory would be needed to decide this match. After an uneventful first period, Hartmann escaped to begin the second period and was promptly taken down by Boley. Just before the end of the period, Hartmann escaped once again to tie the match at 2-2, but Boley accumulated 1:18 of riding time heading to the third.
Hartmann would ride Boley out to erase the riding time deficit and force extra time. Sudden victory did not last long as Boley scored a takedown within 30 seconds of the start of the period. The junior takes on ninth-seeded Jake Meredith of Arizona State in the next round.
At 141, Frank Goodwin ran into tough draw, which saw him exit the tournament after two matches. Goodwin opened with reigning All-American and second-seeded Kedric Maple of Oklahoma. Maple won a 13-1 major decision. In the wrestleback, Goodwin dropped a 10-2 major decision to Penn State's Bryan Pearsall.
After day one, Maryland sits in 22nd place with seven points and is within five points of moving into the top 10. Penn State, seeking its third straight national title, is in first with 32.5 points. Oklahoma State is in second with 29.0 points.
Wrestling resumes Friday morning at 11 a.m. ET with coverage on ESPNU and ESPN3. Check your local listings for availability.