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Jack opens competition in NCAA tournament Thursday

Senior Kevin Jack of North Carolina State.

CLEVELAND, March 14 – Danbury senior Kevin Jack (141) of North Carolina State will hit the mat at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena. Jack, a two-time All-American, is seeking his first national championship.

But it won’t be easy. Two-time champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State is the No. 5 seed with a 23-5 record. The No. 1 seed is Jack’s former teammate at North Carolina State – Bryce Meredith (29-1) of Wyoming.

Jack, who was third a year ago a 141 and fifth at a freshman, is the No. 5 seed with a 18-3 record.

“It’s pretty humbling to know I can be up here and kind of speak at a press conference like this,” Meredith said. “The last two years I’ve been a 14 seed and a 10 seed. So coming in No. 1 is a little different for me. I’m excited for it though. Obviously it puts you in a little bit better bracket. If there’s a good place at the NCAA tournament. We all know it’s madness here. And that’s why we love this sport and that’s why we love this tournament so much.”

Jack beat the No. 5 and No. 4 seed to advance to the semifinals as a freshman and earn All-American honors. A year ago, Jack lost to Meredith, 6-5, in the quarterfinals before pinning Meredith in the consolation final to finish third.

Also in the bracket is Cornell rookie Yianni Diakomihalis (29-1), whose only loss came to Missouri’s Jaydin Eiderman (28-1), who handed Meredith his only loss of the season. Jack could face Diakomihalis in the quarterfinals if they both win their first two bouts.

The first session begins Thursday at noon. Jack takes on redshirt sophomore Russell Rohlfing of Cal-State Bakersfield (22-11) in the first round. The winner faces No. 12 Tyler Smith of Bucknell (27-4) or Virginia Tech’s Brent Moore (19-10).

Moore upset Jack in the ACC final in overtime to deny Jack a third straight league championship.

The second session on Thursday begins at 7 p.m. The tournament will be broadcast live on ESPNU from noon to 3:30 p.m. for the first round and on ESPN from 7 to 10:30 p.m. for the second round.

Jack is looking to become the first Connecticut wrestler to win a national championship since 1931 and the first three-time All-American at the Division I level from Connecticut.

The most recent three-time All-Americans from Connecticut are Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn of Nebraska-Kearney, a three-time Division II All-American from 2010-12 and Newington’s Chris Chorzepa of Williams, a three-time Division III All-American in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Recent Connecticut All-Americans
Division I
Kevin Jack (Danbury), North Carolina State, 3rd, 141, 2017
Kevin Jack (Danbury), North Carolina State, 5th, 141, 2015
Orville Palmer (Middletown), Oklahoma, 7th, 197, 2000
Jim Guzzio (Hand-Madison), Maryland, 5th, 134, 197
John Engel (Stamford), Lehigh, 1st, 118, 1931

2018 NCAA Division I tournament

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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