NEW YORK, March 18 – With the competition so tight and so close, getting the first takedown can make the difference. Because North Carolina’s Joseph Ward was able to get the first takedown, Ward was able to beat North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack Friday night and earn All-American honors at the NCAA Division I national championships.
Ward (141 pounds) got the first takedown in the first period and piled up 1:02 of riding time. That was the difference as Ward beat Jack, 3-2 on the point awarded due to riding time. Collegiate athletes earn one point for any riding time over one minute.
Tied at 2-2 after two periods and with the 1:02 of riding time, Ward, the No. 8 seed in the tournament, chose to go neutral in the third period and he spent two minutes deflecting takedown attempts from No. 3 Jack (26-5) to earn All-American honors.
In the first period, Ward got the takedown, swooping in to get a single leg and had Jack hopping on one foot. Ward tripped Jack to the mat to get the takedown. Jack escaped shortly afterward to cut the lead to one. In the second period, Jack started on bottom but it took him about a minute to escape and tie the match at 2-2.
After dropping a 5-4 decision on riding time to former Wolfpack teammate Bryce Meredith of Wyoming on Friday, Jack had won two straight consolation round matches to get into position to wrestle for All-American honors.
Meredith, who wrestled at 133 last year for North Carolina State, beat No. 2 Joey McKenna of Stanford, 4-3, to earn a spot in Saturday’s final. “Everybody in the country has known that this weight could be blown wide open by anybody, and being put at the 14 seed, I wasn’t worried about it,” Meredith said. “I knew I was going to get there really no matter where I was at in the bracket. I knew I could beat anybody at any given moment.”
Jack, the sophomore from Danbury who won 20 of his final 22 matches of the season, dominated in an 11-5 win over Hofstra’s Jamel Hudson and outlasted No. 11 Thomas Thorn of Minnesota, 3-1.
The match was scoreless into the second period when Thorn escaped to take a 1-0 lead. In the third period, Jack escaped with eight seconds gone to tie the bout at 1-1.
Jack took a 3-1 lead with a takedown with 47 seconds left in regulation and rode out Thorn (36-11) for the victory. It was Jack’s second win of the season over Thorn. He previously won, 10-4 in November.
Against Hofstra’s Jamal Hudson, Jack was in control from the start. He got the first takedown of the match and held a 3-2 lead in the waning seconds of the period. Jack’s takedown with 17 seconds left in the first period gave him a commanding 5-2 edge.
After an escape 10 seconds into the period, Jack added another takedown to extend his lead to 8-2.
Jack was trying to become the just the fifth Connecticut wrestler to ever earn All-American honors at the NCAA Division I national championships. Jack finished fifth at 141 a year ago to become the first Connecticut-born wrestler to earn All-American honors since 2000.
Binghamton’s Jack McKeever won a match at the NCAA championship (Larry Slater photo courtesy Binghamton University)
Binghamton’s Jack McKeever (174) was eliminated in the morning, losing to No. 15 Brian Harvey of Army, 5-2. It was the third time this season that Harvey had beaten McKeever with victories in a dual meet and a 4-3 OT victory at the recent EIWA Tournament.
Against Harvey, McKeever (24-10) gave up a takedown early. Harvey, a three-time NCAA qualifier, accumulated riding time for much of the first period, earning a minute-plus and a 2-0 advantage through three minutes. Harvey picked up more riding time in the second, forcing McKeever to choose neutral to open the third frame.
Trailing 3-0, McKeever attempted to force the action as he looked to rally. He eventually posted a late takedown, but it was not enough, as Harvey came away with the win. McKeever wrapped up his career with 67 career victories and appeared at the NCAA championships twice.