ST. LOUIS – Junior Tyler Smith and senior Victor Lopez each won their opening match at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships and remain alive in the wrestlebacks after one day of competition at the Scottrade Center. Freshman Garrett Hoffman and senior Tom Sleigh saw their seasons come to an end with a pair of losses.
Competing in his third national tournament at 141 pounds, Smith began his tournament with a win in dramatic fashion. The junior trailed 6-5 before tying the match with an escape in the closing seconds of regulation. He then came through with the winning takedown 1:01 into sudden victory.
Smith, the No. 15 seed in the bracket moved on to face second-seeded Kevin Jack (North Carolina State). Jack had a takedown in the first period and added escapes in each of the next two periods to post a 4-0 win over the Bison wrestler. Smith (29-9) drops to the consolation bracket, where he will take on Clarion’s Brock Zacherl. Smith is 1-1 all-time against Zacherl, losing 7-3 at the national tournament last season and winning 8-6 at the Cliff Keen Invitational earlier this season.
Lopez began his day as the 16th-seeded wrestler at 157 pounds and rallied with a big second period to beat Wisconsin’s Timothy Ruschell 5-3. The Bison senior trailed 2-0 before taking a 4-3 lead with a pair of takedowns in the second period. He added a stalling point in the third.
Advancing to take on top-seeded Jason Nolf in the second round, Lopez was sent to the wrestlebacks with a loss. He is 28-8 on the season and will wrestle 15th-seeded Archie Colgan (Wyoming) in the consolation bracket. The two wrestled in the third-place match at the Cliff Keen Invitational this season, with Colgan winning 2-1 in sudden victory.
Sleigh entered his third appearance at the NCAA Championships as the No. 13 seed at 197 pounds, but suffered two close losses on the opening day. The first came by a 4-2 score to Iowa’s Cash Wilcke after a takedown 1:16 into sudden victory. The second came by a 4-1 decision to CSU Bakersfield’s Matt Williams.
Sleigh finishes his junior season with a record of 31-7. He is 89-35 for his career and, along with Smith and Hoffman, will be one of three returning national qualifiers in the lineup next season.
Hoffman made his NCAA Championships debut at 184 pounds and dropped his two matches of the day. The losses came to sixth-seeded Myles Martin (Ohio State) and Hunter Gamble (Gardner-Webb). He concludes his first season at Bucknell with a record of 18-16.
The tournament resumes with session three on Friday at 11 a.m.
Bucknell Wrestler Results
141: Tyler Smith (1-1)
First Round: W, dec. #15 Russell Rohlfling (CSU Baskersfield), 8-6 SV
Second Round: L, dec. #2 Kevin Jack (North Carolina State), 4-0
157: Victor Lopez (1-1)
First Round: W, dec. Timothy Ruschell (Wisconsin), 5-3
Second Round, L, tech. fall, #1 Jason Nolf (Penn State), 24-9 (7:00)
184: Garrett Hoffman (0-2)
First Round: L, maj. dec. #6 Myles Martin (Ohio State), 23-10
Consolation First Round: L, dec. Hunter Gamble (Gardner-Webb), 6-2
197: Tom Sleigh (0-2)
First Round: L, dec. Cash Wilcke (Iowa), 4-2 SV
Consolation First Round: L, dec. Matt Williams (CSU Bakersfield), 4-1