Friday’s quarterfinal round will begin at 9 a.m. pacific time, and broadcast live on ESPNU. Two rounds of wrestlebacks will follow the round of eight matches. A live stream of each mat can be accessed on ESPN3.com. The following are three compelling stories from the first day of action.
Martinez remains undefeated on the season
With a (16-0) record two-time NCAA Champion Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) took controlled of both bouts on Thursday, to advance to the quarterfinal round where he will face the No. 9 seeded wrestler Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) on Friday morning’s session. Martinez improved to 112-2 overall and will have the opportunity on Saturday to win his third NCAA Championship and become the first Illini to garnered All-American honors throughout his career.
Neither grappler has faced each other in their collegiate careers. However, Martinez and Marsteller did meet at the Team USA Under-23 World Championships qualifying last October. Meeting in the best-of-three finals, Martinez swept Marsteller by scores of 8-2 and 7-6 to take the 74kg (163 pounds) spot. Martinez went on to place fifth in Bydgoszcz, Poland on November 26.
Fresno State is back!
After a long absence from competing at the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs made their appearance known this Thursday, as Khristian Olivas (149) became the first grappler to win a match at nationals in 11th years. In his first match against 2017 All-American Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) Olivas took an early lead early in the match by exposing Thomsen on his back. Nevertheless, Thomsen’s experienced paid on the end as he defeated Olivas 13-5. Olivas lone win was against Big 12 rival Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma). A familiar foe as this was the rubber match between the two. After seven straight minutes of wrestling, Olivas top Jeffries, 11-9. To remain alive in the tournament, Olivas must defeat Ryan Deakin (Northwestern), the No. 7 seeded wrestler at 149-pounds to keep his hopes of becoming an All-American and the first Bulldog to do it since Marcio Botelho who placed eighth at 197-pounds in 2003.
L.A. City wrestler makes his presence known
Despite the improvement by the Los Angeles City Section at the CIF state tournament, the section still has the stigma of not in being in the same level as the other sections by many of its peers. Nevertheless, don’t tell that to former San Fernando standout Sergio Mendez. Making his first trip to the big show, the L.A. City kid will be one of 14 wrestlers from California to compete in tomorrow’s session at nationals. After losing his first match of the day to Alonzo Allen (Chattanooga) in the preliminary rounds, Mendez stormed back with two huge wins over RayVon Foley of Michigan State (12-9) and Jacob Schwarm of Northern Iowa (6:23). He will take on Ryan Millhof (Arizona State) in tomorrow’s session; Millhof injury defaulted from his second match at nationals, so it’s unsure if he will be healthy to compete tomorrow. The last Division I All-American from the Los Angeles City Section was Serge Mezheritsky (Birmingham). Mezheritsky competed for Fresno State where he placed sixth at 150-pounds in 1993.