March 20, 2008
St. Louis, Mo. -
Competing at the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Cardinal wrestlers recorded a successful first session. Four of the squad's five qualifiers won their opening bouts and advanced to tonight's second round. All five wrestlers will return to the mats tonight for Session II, which begins at 6:30 p.m. (CT).
Facing one of the toughest unseeded wrestlers in the 125-pound field, Drexel's 12th-ranked Steve Mytych, fourth-seeded Tanner Gardner (39-1) came out on top with a 3-0 decision. Gardner scored all three of his points with an escape and a takedown in the second period, and held on for his 141st career win. Gardner will meet unseeded Anthony Mustari of Northern Colorado later tonight.
At 157 pounds, 12th-seeded Josh Zupancic (37-6) started the 2008 tournament with a decisive 13-4 major decision over Michigan's Jeff Marsh, an unseeded wrestler who is ranked No. 16 nationally. The Cardinal senior dominated from the get-go, scoring seven points in the first period, and continued to run. He will face fifth-seeded CP Schlatter of Minnesota in tonight's second round.
Junior Luke Feist (17-10) avenged a loss to Alex Caruso of Lehigh from earlier this season, coming out strong to earn his first career NCAA win. Feist put Caruso on his back for three nearfall points in the first period, and finished with a 9-0 major decision. The Cardinal 174-pounder will meet second-seeded Steve Luke of Michigan in tonight's second round.
Sophomore Zack Giesen (25-10) also picked up his first NCAA win in his opening match of the championships. After a scoreless first period, Giesen escaped and scored a key takedown in the second period to establish his lead over Chris Daggett of Liberty. The Stanford 184-pounder continued to battle and, with just 33 seconds left in the match, put Daggett on his back and earned his third pin of the year (6:27). He will wrestle top-seeded Jake Varner of Iowa State in the second round.
In his first appearance at the NCAA Championships, redshirt freshman 149-pounder Lucas Espericueta
(25-13) lost by fall in 1:19 to Gardner-Webb's Edward McCray. He drops to the consolation bracket and will face Penn's Cesar Grajales later tonight.
Second round matches and the first round of consolation matches will start at 6:30 p.m. (CT) tonight at the Scottrade Center. Action continues with Session III tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. (CT).
2007 NCAA Championships
St. Louis, Mo.
Tanner Gardner (1-0): dec. No. 12 Steve Mytych (Drexel), 3-0.
Lucas Espericueta (0-1): fall to Edward McCray (Gardner-Webb), 1:19.
Josh Zupancic (1-0): maj. dec. No. 16 Jeff Marsh (Michigan), 13-4.
Luke Feist (1-0): maj. dec. Alex Caruso (Lehigh), 9-0.
Zack Giesen (1-0): pinned Chris Daggett (Liberty), 6:27.