ST. LOUIS - Zach Neibert capped off a big first day with his second upset of the tournament Thursday evening in the second session of the 2012 NCAA Championships inside the Scottrade Center, highlighting the session for the Virginia Tech wrestling squad. In all, five Tech wrestlers will compete in Friday’s action in a quest for All-America honors.
The match of the session for Tech belonged to Neibert at 141 pounds, who controlled the pace to upset seventh-seeded and ACC Champion Nick Nelson of Virginia, 4-2. After a scoreless first period, Neibert rode Nelson for two minutes in the second period and escaped quickly to grab the first point in the third stanza. He got a takedown to widen the lead, but Nelson reversed him late to cut it to 3-2. But riding time ended up being a factor, accounting for the 4-2 win. Neibert picked up two upsets on the day as began the day with a win over the No. 10 seed. He’ll now move to the quarterfinals Friday morning against second-seeded Kendric Maple of Oklahoma, whom he lost to in the dual match earlier this year, 13-1.
The result wasn’t as good for Tech’s other two wrestlers who won their first match this morning. Sixth-seeded Devin Carter struggled against 11th-seeded Steven Keith of Harvard early and fell behind big. He rallied to tie it up, but gave up a takedown late and Keith earned a point for riding time to pick up the 8-6 upset win. Nick Brascetta put up a good fight against eighth-seeded Eric Grajales of Michigan, but a takedown in the first period doomed the freshman as Grajales went on to pick up a 4-1 win. Both will now have to win two matches tomorrow morning and one more tomorrow night to earn All-America honors. If not, they’ll be eliminated from the tournament.
In the wrestlebacks, Erik Spjut took care of business at 125 pounds, eliminating Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State with a dominating 10-4 win. Spjut used four takedowns, an escape and a point for riding time to pick up the win and advance to Friday’s action.
Pete Yates made quick work of Rider’s James Brundage at 165 pounds, pinning him in just 11 seconds. He used a quick double under hook and slammed Brundage right to his back, picking up the second-quickest pin in school history and the fastest NCAA Championship pin in school history. The fastest pin in school history is 9 seconds, coming from Tomas Ovalle in 2004 at a tournament.
Chris Moon was eliminated after losing to Bloomsburg’s Mike Dessino, 9-3, at 174 pounds. He finishes his sophomore campaign with a 19-14 record.
Session III of the tournament begins Friday morning at 10 a.m. local time, 11 a.m. Eastern. The action can be watched online at ESPN3.com.
125: Erik Spjut (1-1)
First Round: lost to #6 seed Frank Perelli (Cornell), 4-2
Wrestlebacks: def. Johnni DiJulius (Ohio St.), 10-4
Wrestlebacks: vs. Trent Sprenkle (North Dakota State) - FRIDAY
133: #6 seed Devin Carter (1-1)
First Round: def. Nathan McCormick (Missouri), Fall 4:39
Second Round: lost #11 Steven Keith (Harvard), 8-6
Wrestlebacks: vs. Frank Martelloti (PSU) - FRIDAY
141: Zach Neibert (2-0)
First Round: def. #10 seed Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska), 6-5
Second Round: def. #7 Nick Nelson (VA), 4-2
Quarterfinals: vs. #2 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) - FRIDAY
149: Nick Brascetta (1-1)
First Round: def. #9 seed David Hobat (Edinboro), 3-1
Second Round: lost to #8 Eric Grajales (Michigan), 4-1
Wrestlebacks: vs. Kaleb Friedley (NW) - FRIDAY
165: #6 seed Pete Yates (1-1)
First Round: lost to Dallas Bailey (Oklahoma St.), MD 13-2
Second match: def. James Brundage (Rider), Fall 0:11
Wrestlebacks: vs. Brandon Wright (Chattanooga) - FRIDAY
174: Chris Moon (0-2; ELIMINATED)
First Round: lost to #2 seed Chris Perry (Oklahoma St.), 9-4
Second match: lost to Mike Dessino (Bloomsburg), 9-3
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).