ST. LOUIS, March 20 – North Carolina State freshman Kevin Jack made Connecticut wrestling history Friday at the NCAA Division I national championships. With a two-point reversal with 42 seconds left in the match Jack beat No. 3 seed Devon Carter of Virginia Tech, 10-8 to advance to the semifinals and clinch All-American honors.
Jack, who wrestled at Danbury High, becomes just the fourth wrestler from Connecticut to earn All-American honors and the first since Middletown’s Orville Palmer finished seventh in 2000 for Oklahoma.
Jack’s hopes to become the first Connecticut wrestler to wrestle for a NCAA Division I title since 1931 was foiled in the semifinals when he lost to three-time national champion Logan Stieber of Ohio State, 12-2. Stieber had three takedowns and a near fall in the bout. But Stieber had to wrestle all seven minutes to beat Jack. Stieber won his previous three bouts by tech fall, pin and tech fall.
“I am very proud of our guys,” North Carolina head coach Pat Popolizio said. “It’s pretty amazing what a two week turn around can do for a team and an individual. This tournament is all about the will to win, and both Kevin and Nick Gwiazdowski have shown that thus far.
Jack (30-9) has set a new single season record most wins in a season for a Wolfpack freshman. Jack was one of just three true freshmen in the semifinals and one of three unseeded wrestlers in the semifinal round.
Just like his first two tournament victories, Jack’s quarterfinal win also came down to a move late in the third period for Jack. Going into the third period, Jack held an 8-5 lead and Carter got the escape to start the final period to pull within 8-6. Carter then scored a takedown to even it up 8-8, but Jack caught him in a reversal with 30 seconds left and rode out the period for the 10-8 win.
A key sequence in the first period also led to Jack’s win. After Carter scored the first takedown, he let Jack up for the escape point. Jack then turned right back, took down Carter and got him on his back to scored three near fall points for an early 6-2 lead.
Carter is a four-time ACC champion, and was the 2014 NCAA runner-up at 141 pounds. “I came to this tournament to wrestle the best wrestlers in the nation,” said Jack. “At this point, I felt like I don’t have anything to lose. I am going to go out and do whatever I can to win and just wrestle.”
2015 NCAA Division I national championships
At St. Louis
2015 NCAA Tournament results
Kevin Jack (141),
North Carolina State
Def. (5) Josh Dziewa, Iowa, 6-3
2R: Def. (12) Joseph Ward, North Carolina, 6-5
QF: Def. (4) Devin Carter, Virginia Tech, 10-8
SF: Lost (1) Logan Stieber, Ohio State, 12-2