No. 3 Ryan Flores broke a 0-0 tie versus No. 2 Jarod Trice with four points in the third period to advance to the finals of the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships Friday night in Philadelphia, Pa.
After a scoreless first period, Trice chose to begin the second on bottom but was unable to escape the hold of Flores who repeatedly flattened him to the ground to ride out the period. Flores began the third on bottom and scored with an escape just 26 seconds into the frame, preserving 1:34 of riding time. Flores later countered a Trice takedown attempt at the edge of the mat with time winding down, and with the riding time advantage earned the decision 4-0.
Flores is the second student-athlete in program history to reach the finals and with a win Saturday night will join Josh Glenn '08 as one of two NCAA Div. I National Champions in school history. Flores, who is making his third appearance at Nationals, has also earned All-America status for the first time in his career.
The Eagles jumped from seventh to fifth in the team standings with Flores' victory and have a chance to move even higher Saturday morning. American has a total of 56 team points while Oklahoma State sits in fourth place with 65.5. Penn State is in the lead with 92.5 points and is followed by Cornell and Iowa with 75 points and 74 points, respectively. American's best-ever finish at the tournament came last season when the team placed 14th.
No. 2 Steve Fittery and No. 8 Ganbayar Sanjaa joined Flores in Friday's semifinals but were unable to advance, falling 7-1 and 4-0, respectively. Despite the losses, the two remain alive in the tournament and can finish as high as third Saturday morning. All three have guaranteed themselves All-America status, marking the second straight year the Eagles have placed three on the podium.
American has now crowned 14 All-Americans since 2005 and has had multiple student-athletes earn All-America status in each of the last four years.
Action will resume from the Wells Fargo Center Saturday morning beginning with the medal round at 11:00 a.m. live on ESPNU. The finals will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN. Fans can also follow @AU_Wrestling on Twitter to receive updates throughout the day.
For all the latest videos, photos and news on the Eagles from Philadelphia, check out the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships Homepage.
141 - #11 Matt Mariacher
Mariacher's All-America hopes remain alive after posting a 6-2 decision over Vincente Varela of Hofstra. Mariacher led 2-1 after the first period and improved his standing to 5-1 with an escape and takedown in the second. The junior added riding time advantage for his final margin. Mariacher returned to the mat during the morning session with a 10-5 decision over Lockhaven's Matthew Bonson. Mariacher was forced to wrestle from behind after Bonson scored a quick takedown in the first but Mariacher turned Bonson to his back early in the second for a 4-1 lead. The junior scored a takedown of his own later in the period and added two more points for a near fall, taking an 8-4 lead into the final frame. Mariacher scored one more takedown after a Bonson escape, giving himself the 10-5 victory. His tournament was cut short, however, as he fell to Illinois' James Kennedy, the fourth seed, 7-3 in the round of 12. Mariacher finished his first appearance at Nationals with a 3-2 record and came one match short of earning All-America status.
149 - #8 Ganbayar Sanjaa
Sanjaa became the first Eagle to reach the semi's with a 10-3 decision over Michigan's Eric Grajales. Sanjaa went on top 4-1 with a pair of takedowns in the first and led 7-2 after an escape and takedown in the second. The junior added one more takedown and riding time advantage in the third for the final margin. Sanjaa's championship hopes were ended in the semis, however, when he lost 4-0 to fourth-seeded Kyle Dake of Cornell. Sanjaa trailed just 1-0 heading into the third period but was penalized twice for false starts and gave up riding time advantage. Sanjaa will return to the mat Saturday morning against 11th-seeded Andrew Nadhir of Northwestern and can still place as high as third. Sanjaa and Nadhir met earlier this season at the Keystone Classic, with Nadhir pulling out a 1-0 decision in the finals.
157 - #2 Steve Fittery
Fittery continued to wrack up bonus points for the Eagles with a second-period fall over Navy's Bryce Saddoris, the seventh seed. Fittery held a 4-1 advantage after two takedowns in the first period and began the second period on top. Fittery was then able to roll Saddoris to his back and pinned his shoulders to the mat at the 4:11 mark. The senior was upset in the semifinals, however, ending his championship bid with a 7-1 loss to third-seeded David Taylor of Penn State. The two went scoreless into the second period where Taylor went on top with a reversal and two-point near fall. Taylor added a takedown and riding time advantage in the third for the final margin. Fittery will also return to the mat Saturday morning in the consolations with the opportunity to place as high as third. Fittery will face top-seeded Adam Hall of Boise State in his first match of the day.
197 – Daniel Mitchell
Mitchell also remained alive in his quest for All-America status, earning a 10-1 major decision over Bucknell's Jay Hahn. Mitchell scored a takedown and two back points in the first period before moving his advantage to 6-1 with a takedown in the second. An escape, takedown and riding time advantage in the third allowed him to pick up the bonus points for the team. Mitchell was later knocked out of the tournament via a 12-4 major decision loss to Stanford's Zack Giesen, the 12th seed. In his second appearance at Nationals, Mitchell posted a 3-2 record with two major decisions.
HWT - #3 Ryan Flores
Flores rounded out the Eagles perfect quarterfinal round with a 5-2 decision over 11th-seeded Tucker Lane of Nebraska. Flores scored first with a takedown late in the first period then upped his advantage to 3-0 with an escape in the second. The junior added a second takedown in the third period to reach his final margin. Flores faced No. 2 Jarod Trice of Central Michigan in the semifinals and pulled off a dramatic 4-0 victory to advance to the finals. After a scoreless first period, Trice chose to begin the second on bottom but was unable to escape the hold of Flores who repeatedly flattened him to the ground to ride out the period. Flores then began the third period on bottom and scored with an escape just 26 seconds into the frame, preserving 1:34 of riding time. Flores later countered a Trice takedown attempt at the edge of the mat with time winding down, and with the riding time advantage earned the decision 4-0. Flores will make his first appearance in the finals Saturday night versus No. 1 Zach Rey of Lehigh. The two have already met three times this year, with Rey pulling out decisions of 5-2 and 5-3 in their first two meetings. Flores got the best of Rey in the EIWA finals, however, winning a 4-2 decision in tiebreakers to claim his second career EIWA Championship.