ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Virginia wrestling team completed day one of the 2012 NCAA Championships Thursday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, and all six Cavaliers in the field remained alive heading into the morning session Friday. UVa accumulated 12 points on day one, which puts the Cavaliers in a 23rd-place tie in the double-elimination tournament.
Session III of the championships begins at 11 a.m. Friday, while Session IV starts at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be televised by ESPNU and webcast on ESPN3.
"We started off advancing three guys and were riding high, then we lost three really tough matches," head coach Steve Garland. "That was a pretty devastating round, but then we got three wins in the wrestlebacks, including Nick Sulzer's big win over a seeded guy who had beaten him earlier this year, so we're riding high again."
None of the Cavaliers came through the first day unscathed; each posted a 1-1 record. UVa's three seeded wrestlers all won their first-round matches, then fell in the second round - No. 11 seed Matt Snyder (R-Jr., Lewistown, Pa.) at 125 pounds, No. 7 seed Nick Nelson (R-Sr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) at 141 and No. 12 seed Jon Fausey (R-So., Dalmatia, Pa.) at 184.
Matt Nelson (Sr., Pittsburgh, Pa.), Gus Sako (So., Cleveland, Ohio) and Nick Sulzer (R-Fr., Cleveland, Ohio) each lost their first-round matches but bounced back in the consolation round to advance to the second day of action. Sulzer scored a 3-2 win in a tiebreaker over No. 10 seed Cody Yohn of Minnesota to move on to Friday.
In order to attain All-America status, the Cavaliers each must win three bouts Friday. UVa's matchups for the first session Friday:
125: Snyder vs. Jared Germaine (Eastern Michigan)
133: Matt Nelson vs. Zach Zehner (Wyoming)
141: Nick Nelson vs. Joshua Kindig (Oklahoma State)
149: Sako vs. No. 5 seed Ian Miller (Kent State)
165: Sulzer vs. Coleman Gracey (Army)
184: Fausey vs. Casey Newburg (Kent State)/Luke Rebertus (Navy)
Snyder (23-4) came back with a late reversal to down Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State, 3-2, in the first round. His second-round bout with No. 6 seed Frank Perrelli of Cornell also was a nailbiter; Snyder jumped ahead early with a takedown but promptly gave up a reversal. Perrelli built up 1:27 in riding time to close the second period; Snyder whittled it under a minute after choosing the top position in the third. Perrelli took injury time with 1:23 left; Snyder chose the bottom position for the restart, and Perrelli built the riding time back over a minute before Snyder escaped. Perrelli claimed the riding time point to send the match to sudden-victory time. After an uneventful overtime, Perrelli escaped in just two seconds in the first tiebreaker period and Snyder was unable to counter.
Nick Nelson (26-3) had a pair of close bouts. In his opener against Appalachian State's Mike Kessler, Nelson won 1-0, scoring an escape in the second period and then riding Kessler for the entire third period to hold on for the win. Nelson lost his second match to Virginia Tech's Zach Neibert, 4-2, to drop to the wrestlebacks. After giving up a takedown midway through the third, Nelson fell behind 3-0 before a reversal with 30 seconds remaining. With the riding time point already clinched, Neibert defended the rest of the way for the win.
Fausey (22-4) came within four seconds of making the quarterfinal round, but No. 5 seed Kevin Steinhaus scored a takedown in the waning seconds to squeak out a 7-6 win in the second round. Fausey had a 6-4 lead heading into the third period before giving up an escape point; Steinhaus clinched the riding time point while the two were neutral, but after a restart with 10 seconds left, Steinhaus knocked Fausey to the mat and was notched the deciding two points with four ticks left.
Fausey started the day on a great note with a 9-0 major decision over Michigan State's Ian Hinton. Fausey started the scoring midway through the first with a takedown, then added a three-point near fall late in the period, and he cruised from there while building up over three minutes of riding time.
Matt Nelson (17-6) went 1-1 on the day at 133. After getting pinned by No. 7 seed A.J. Schopp of Edinboro in the first round, Nelson bounced back nicely with a 6-2 win over Jamie Franco of Hofstra. Nelson finished off a takedown at the 2:22 mark of the first period, then rode Franco the rest of the period to built up his riding time. After Franco escaped six seconds into the second period, there was no further scoring until the third. Nelson escaped to start the third and after being assessed a penalty point for his second stall warning, he took Franco down late in the period to put the match away.
Sako (22-7) lost his first match, 7-2, to undefeated and second-seeded Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State, and scored a win over Rutgers' Mario Mason by medical forfeit. The Parks-Sako match was tied 2-2 late in the second when Parks countered a Sako shot with one of his own for a takedown. Parks added a takedown in the third to pull away for the victory.
Sulzer (26-8) dropped his opener, 6-4, to No. 7 seed Josh Asper of Maryland. Sulzer had multiple shots that he could not quite finish, but he came through in his second-round bout against No. 10 Cody Yohn of Minnesota, winning 3-2 in a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker period, Sulzer held Yohn down for the entire 30 seconds. In trying to hold on in the closing seconds of the second portion, Yohn was assessed a stall warning - his second - for hanging on to Sulzer's leg, and that penalty point was the difference.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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