NEW YORK – Senior captain David Terao scored a significant upset to lead the American University wrestling team in the second session at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships being held at Madison Square Garden.
Terao, seeded 15th at 125 pounds, knocked off second-seed Joey Dance of Virginia Tech in a 5-3 decision. It was just the second loss of the season for Dance, who entered the tournament with a 28-1 overall record.
Terao scored a takedown early in the first period, but Dance was able to answer with an escape. Terao took a 2-1 lead into the second period before Dance tied the match at 2-2 with another escape.
The score remained tied at 2-2 heading into the final period and Terao began the period on bottom. He scored a reversal to take a 4-2 lead and, despite giving up another escape, was able to rack up enough riding time to secure an extra point for the 5-3 victory.
Terao, who advances to the quarterfinals for the third straight season, will face 10th-seeded Connor Schram of Stanford in tomorrow's match.
"I felt good coming into this match," said Terao. "I knew his primary offense coming in just because we've wrestled three times (before). I knew what he had, and I built my strategy around that."
"The game plan (going forward) is to keep wrestling like I've been wrestling—laser focus, executing everything as perfectly as possible, and not being afraid to fight out there. I think that's what won me this match tonight."
"Something David is doing extremely well right now is staying in his comfort zone," said American head coach Teague Moore. "He's doing the things that he does well and he's doing them exceptionally well.
"I'm so happy for him—he's on point right now. We've got a big one tomorrow, so we're going to come back and repeat this process all over again."
Also competing on Thursday night for the Eagles were seniors John Boyle and Mitchell Wightman. Boyle, seeded 10th at 157 pounds, faced a tough opponent in his second-round match, taking on seventh-seeded Cody Pack of South Dakota State.
Boyle, looking to avenge a 6-2 loss to Pack earlier this season, wrestled a hard-fought match against Pack. After a scoreless opening period, Boyle picked up the first point of the bout with an escape in the second period. Pack was able to tie the match in the third period with an escape of his own, but neither wrestler was able to score another point as the match headed into overtime.
The pair went scoreless in the sudden victory period, sending the bout into tiebreakers. Starting in the down position, Boyle was unable to come up with an escape, while Pack came up with an escape in the second half of the tiebreaker to win the match.
"John tightened up certain areas of his game (since last facing Pack)," said Moore. "I felt he was the aggressor in that match. I felt he created 90 percent of the wrestling opportunities in that match.
"In the end, we fell short, but it's not a match that we can hang our head and be upset about, because John gave everything he had—every ounce of his soul went into that match. I expect to see a very fired-up John Boyle tomorrow."
Boyle now drops into the consolation bracket, where he will face Ohio's Spartak Chino.
Wightman, who dropped his pigtail match earlier in the day, faced a familiar foe in his consolation preliminary match, taking on Columbia's Tyrel White for the third time this season. Both previous bouts were close 3-2 losses for Wightman, who again dropped a close 3-2 decision.
White was the first to get on the scoreboard, earning a decision late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. Wightman rode out the entire second period, but was unable to score any back points and went into the final period trailing 2-0. Wightman scored a quick escape to get on the board and was able to lock up a riding time point, but was called for two stall warnings, giving White the decisive extra point.
Wightman, in his first year as a member of the Eagles' program, ends the season with a 22-17 overall record.
"Even though it was a disappointing end, I'm happy for Mitch that he got to finish out his career on his terms," said Moore. "He got to get back to the nationals his senior year. His junior year, his program gets dropped, and he takes a year off. He comes to AU to attend graduate school and gets an opportunity for a fifth year, and he did everything he could.
"I'm really happy to have been a part of his journey. He's just a phenomenal young man. He's going to do great things professionally. A guy like Mitch is going to be giving back and growing the wrestling community going forward."
Action continues for Terao and Boyle tomorrow morning, starting at 11:00.
Session II Results
125: (15) David Terao dec. (2) Joey Dance (VT), 5-3
157: (7) Cody Pack (SDSU) dec. (10) John Boyle, 2-1 (TB1)
165: Tyrel White (Columbia) dec. Mitchell Wightman, 3-2