CLEVELAND, Ohio – Clarion University’s Brock Zacherl pulled out a pair of hard-fought wins Thursday to reach the quarterfinals, highlighting Clarion’s first day at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena.
Zacherl, a Brookville graduate, entered the 141-pound bracket as the seventh seed, and the redshirt-junior lived up to the billing by picking up wins over Nebraska’s Chad Red and Central Michigan’s Mason Smith. He goes into Friday’s proceedings one win away from the national semifinals when he faces Missouri’s Jaydin Eierman.
Eierman is the second seed in the bracket with a 30-1 overall record, while Zacherl comes in with a 29-1 mark.
In his first match of the day, Zacherl came at Red aggressively with a double-leg takedown for the early advantage. Red escaped to make it 2-1, and did so again at the start of the second period to knot things up at 2-2.
However, Zacherl had at that point amassed enough riding time to clinch the extra point, and after escaping to start the third period he held a 3-2 lead. Zacherl staved off a late shot from Red to take the 4-2 decision.
The Round of 16 match against Smith was also a close one, though Zacherl remained the aggressor throughout the bout and kept his opponent on his heels.
Zacherl caught Smith’s leg up high and swept him to the mat, but once again the two entered the third period tied at 2-2. This time Zacherl elected neutral to start and it paid dividends when he took Smith down with roughly 19 seconds remaining. Smith escaped but couldn’t catch Zacherl, who left with the 4-3 decision.
In addition to Zacherl’s showing, three other Golden Eagles competed on Thursday, with all three eventually falling in the wrestlebacks. Here’s a look at the rest of the action:
Brookville grad Taylor Ortz, an at-large selection at 149 pounds, started the day with a tough draw against 11th-seeded Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton. Kolodzik kept Ortz at bay and eventually prevailed with an 8-2 decision.
In Ortz’s first wrestleback match, he managed to tie the score at 2-2 against Virginia’s Sam Krivus, but Krivus amassed more than two minutes of riding time and took the 3-2 decision.
Greg Bulsak, the EWL runner-up at 184 pounds, took on third-seeded Ryan Preisch of Lehigh in his opening round bout. Preisch led 4-1 and had a riding time advantage entering the third period, but Bulsak started on top and rode Preisch for the entire period.
However, he could not get the tilt he needed and fell by a 5-1 decision. In his wrestleback match against Brown’s Christian LaFragola, Bulsak scored a late takedown to tie the score at 6-6 and negate the riding time advantage. LaFragola escaped with just three second left on the clock to steal the 7-6 decision.
Dustin Conti faced off with 13th-seeded Jeric Kasunic in the opening round of the 197-pound bout, and it proved to be evenly matched. It was just 2-1 in favor of Kasunic entering the third period, but Kasunic got an escape and a takedown to build a 5-2 advantage and hold on for the win.
The wrestleback match against Cal Poly’s Tom Lane went to sudden victory tied at 1-1, but Lane managed a takedown with 12 seconds remaining for the decision.