Like boxing, wrestling is a demanding, physical sport. In both sports, the term split decision sometimes is used.
That's what the AU wrestling team got on Friday (Mar. 9) on the first day of the NCAA Division II national championships in Pueblo, Colo. AU sent eight wrestlers to this event. Four were bounced out of the tourney on Friday. Four are still in the mix and will wrestle on Saturday. All four, however, are in the consolation bracket.
The four who can still pursue the dream of being an All-American are sophomore Adli Edwards (Gahanna, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) at 133 pounds, senior Marc Hoff (Liberty Center, Ohio) at 149 pounds, freshman Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) at 197 pounds and senior Jacob Southwick (Bowling Green, Ohio/Otsego) at 285 pounds.
Edwards got off to a strong start with a 4-0 decision over Newberry's Matt Oliver. In his next match, Edwards ran up against the machine known as Trevor Franklin. Franklin is 26-0 and ranked first in the country. He pinned Edwards in 1:54. The good news is that Edwards was able to rebound and take an 11-8 overtime decision from CSU-Pueblo's Jesse Hillhouse. Hillhouse is ranked fifth in the nation. Edwards (19-7) is listed fifth.
Hoff won his opening match, 8-3 over Jacob Horn of St. Cloud State. Horn is ranked fourth in the nation. Hoff then stumbled against Bobby Ward of Grand Canyon. Ward, ranked second in the country, stopped Hoff, 10-5. The AU senior stayed alive in the tourney with a major decision over Dan Telhada of Anderson State. Hoff won his final match on Friday, 10-2.
Brandt, a true freshman, opened some eyes when he pinned the nation's third-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, Celic Bell of Grand Canyon, in 1:34. That sent Brandt into a showdown with Shane Nolan of North Carolina-Pembroke. Nolan, ranked eighth nationally, defeated Brandt, 4-2. The rookie earned the right to wrestle on Saturday thanks to a 7-3 decision over Pitt-Johnstown's Jonathan Moore. Brandt is 17-13.
Southwick has been nationally ranked all season so he never goes into a match as an underdog. He went to Colorado ranked fourth in the country. He was fine in his opener, pinning Zach Rosol of Upper Iowa in 4:36. Trouble came in the next round where Kevin Barrett of Nebraska-Kearney, the owner of a 30-6 record, stopped Southwick, 5-3. "Big South," as he's known in wrestling circles, came back to pin Cody Dauphin of Central Oklahoma at the 6:09 mark.
As for the four AU wrestlers who didn't advance, that group lists senior Brandon Davis (Greensboro, N.C./Page) at 125, junior Dan Genetin (Navarre, Ohio/Massillon Perry) at 157, senior Tommie Graszl (Mansfield, Ohio/Madison) at 165 and freshman Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) at 174.
Davis and Graszl were at nationals for the second time and this was the third visit for Genetin. Davis lost to freshman Joshua Kieffer of Indianapolis, 7-4. He found new life thanks to an 8-6 overtime decision over Mercyhurst's Ryan Bohince. A familiar foe, Findlay's Ben Sergent, ended the season for Davis in the next round thanks to a 6-5 decision. Sergent is ranked fifth in the nation and Davis is seventh.
Genetin's day began with a loss to an old nemesis, Jarrod Shaw of West Liberty. The WL wrestler nipped Genetin, 6-5. The AU grappler came back and posted a 13-5 major decision over Winston Robbins of Upper Iowa. The tourney ended for Genetin in the next round when Jeremy Bommarito of Limestone, ranked fifth in the country, won by decision, 3-1.
Graszl went 0-2 on Friday. He fell in overtime, 3-1 to Chester Granard of Colorado Mesa. In his next bout, Graszl was pinned in 4:45 by Cody Quinn of Minnesota State-Mankato.
At 174 pounds, Hall lost to the nation's top-ranked wrestler at the weight class, Luke Rynish of Wisconsin-Parkside, 12-6. Hall was eliminated from the tournament, 4-0 by Travis McKillop of Pitt-Johnstown.
Heading into Saturday, AU is ninth in the team standings with 27 points. Nebraska-Kearney is first with 56.5 points and St. Cloud State is second with 41 points. Wisconsin-Parkside is third with 34 points.