CLEVELAND, Ohio – Bucknell's Tyler Smith fell in the 141-pound weight class's blood round to wrap up his time at the NCAA Wrestling Championships with a 2-2 record on Friday at the Quicken Loans Center.
Smith, who was one win away from earning All-American laurels, wrapped up his collegiate career with a 107-37 record. He'll graduate ranked ninth in career victories and 11th in career winning percentage (.743). With a 29-6 record this season, he also claimed 12th in single-season winning percentage (.829).
Smith opened the second day of NCAA wrestling's premier event with a quarterfinal bout against Ohio State's Joey McKenna. McKenna, the fourth seed, had only ceded a single point in his previous six postseason bouts. At the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships, he had outscored his opponents by a combined margin of 54-1 and also posted one victory by fall.
While McKenna raced out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first period behind a takedown and a two-point near fall, Smith continued to battle. He scored an escape and a takedown over the course of the final two frames to ultimately fall by an 8-3 decision.
Smith's loss to McKenna, a 2016 All-American and 2018 Big Ten champion, sent him into the consolation bracket's round of eight. There, he ran in to the eighth seed, Penn State's Nick Lee. Once again, Smith found himself in an early hole, down, 6-1, at the end of the opening stanza. In the second period, he outscored the Nittany Lion by 4-2 margin to trim his deficit to 8-5. Lee ultimately controlled the third period and advanced to the medal round behind a 13-6 victory.
Smith, the 12th seed at these NCAA Championships, was the first Bison to reach the quarterfinals since current assistant coach Kevin LeValley. As a senior in 2011, LeValley rolled into the 149-pound bracket's round of eight behind a pair of major decisions. Smith advanced to the quarterfinals behind a thrilling overtime victory over NC State's Kevin Jack, the fifth seed and a two-time All-American.
Smith is the fifth Bison to qualify for the NCAA Championships all four years of his collegiate career. He went 6-8 all-time at the NCAA Championships, finishing one win away from earning a spot on the podium in 2018 and 2017.
141: #12 Tyler Smith (2-2)
First Round: Brent Moore (Virginia Tech), W, Dec. (7-0)
Second Round: #5 Kevin Jack (NC State), W, SV-1 (6-4)
Quarterfinals: #4 Joey McKenna (Ohio State), L, Dec. (3-8)
Consolation Round of 8: #8 Nick Lee (Penn State), L, Dec. (6-13)
Note: Number listed beside wrestler is NCAA Championships seed