First Day NCAA Tournament Reactions


#6 Sean Russell, MINN Maj. #27 Dack Punke 16-6
#22 Cole Verner, WYO Dec. Dack Punke 4-2

Thoughts: Punke wrestled hard in both of his bouts, but was outmatched in the first and could not quite finish late in the second. The effort was there. It was a solid performance by Punke and he will have more opportunities to shine in upcoming seasons.


#8 John Erneste Maj. Derek Spann, UB 8-0
#8 John Erneste Dec. DJ Fehlman, LH 4-0

Thoughts: It was nice to see Erneste going out and bonusing Spann, as their first bout at MAC’s was a bit closer. Erneste wrestled a great second bout, in which his chain wrestling was fantastic. Fehlman had no answer for his top game, and Erneste was able to collect a really slick takedown in the third to really put the match away. It was a really impressive first day for Erneste and I am excited to see how he competes in day two.

Next: Quarter against #1 Daton Fix, OKST (Fix beat Erneste 9-2 in the dual). Keys for Erneste against Fix are taking away his inside trip and going to work on top here if he gets some opportunities. This is a big bout for Erneste, so I look for him to come out firing on all cylinders.


#5 Jaydin Eierman Fall over #28 Chris Debien, CHATT
#5 Jaydin Eierman Dec. #12 Cam Kelly, OHIO 10-8

Thoughts: Eierman looked fantastic in his first match. He pushed the pace throughout and then was able to grab a fall in the second period, which really helped the team out. In his second match Eierman was smooth early and amassed a nice lead over Kelly.

Eierman was trying a bit too hard to hit a home run and get bonus against Kelly and he let Kelly get back into the bout a little bit. Overall Eierman had an outstanding first day and has an opportunity to do some huge things in day two.

Next: Quarter against #13 Kyle Shoop, LH. Keys for Eierman here are just to get to his offense and to put the hammer down from neutral and top. Shoop is a monster on top, so if Eierman can control the match and avoid going under Shoop that would portend well for his potential success. If Eierman gets by Shoop, which I believe he will he will likely see #1 Yianni Diakomihalis, CORN whom he is 1-2 against in his career in what should be a great Semifinal bout. Both wrestlers are excellent scramblers and each has an almost ethereal, unorthodox style that is well suited to them but would be almost impossible for others to replicate.


#4 Brock Mauller Maj. #29 Matt Zovistoski, APP ST. 10-2
#4 Brock Mauller Dec. #20 Tommy Thorn, MINN 5-1

Thoughts: Mauller was fantastic on day one. He wrestled really smart against Zovistoski, as he was able to grab and early takedown and a good amount of riding time that really allowed him to take control of the pace of the bout. Zovistoski got in on Mauller’s legs, but he is a nightmare to finish on and he was able to control those positions with ease. Mauller even was able to put Zovistoski on his back late and grab an extra team point with the major. Great performance by Mauller. In Mauller’s second bout he had past AA Thorn who is an excellent scrambler and is long for the weight class. Mauller was able to grab a nice takedown early and really stymied Thorn in every position. It was a really complete performance for Mauller.

Next: Mauller will have a Quarter against #5 Matt Kolodzik, Princeton. Keys for Mauller will be to control the tempo of the match and to force Kolodzik to wrestle aggressively. Kolodzik is an excellent technician on his feet and is solid from top and bottom, but he is not excellent in any one area. Expect a low number of points to be scored in this match. If Mauller gets by Kolodzik he will likely see #1 Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers. Ashnault is tough on top and is solid on his feet as well. I hope we get to see Mauller wrestle against Ashnault, as I believe it would be a really tight bout..


#20 Luke Weiland, ARMY Dec. #13 Jarrett Jacques 4-0
#13 Jarrett Jacques Dec. #29 Alex Smythe, UB 7-3

Thoughts: Jacques dropped a match against Weiland, where from the start Weiland seemed to be the aggressor and was really pushing the pace. Jacques had a really hard time getting out from bottom and finishing shots in his first bout. In the second match Jacques secured three first period takedowns and really wrestled solidly aggressive throughout. The second performance was a lot better and I am interested to see how he comes out on day two. There is a lot of wrestling left.

Next: Jacques will have #19 Griffin Parriott, PURDUE in his R24 bout. Parriott is strong for the weight class and is excellent defensively, so points may be at a premium here. If Jacques gets by Parriott he will have either #11 Ke-Shawn Hayes, TOSU/ Park Hill or #12 Taleb Rahmani in the R16. Jacques is at his best when he is firing off shots and riding tough on top and I think we see him perform well today.


#15 Connor Flynn Dec. #18 Gordon Wolf, LEH 5-4
#2 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU Dec. #15 Connor Flynn 8-4

Thoughts: Flynn wrestled really well on day one. He wrestled a very tough Wolf and they got in some insane scrambles, but Flynn kept his composure and was able to string together some nice takedowns and grab a really clutch win here. In his second match Flynn did not back down from Joseph and really came after him. Flynn scored a late takedown on the defending national champion and I hope he comes out with some confidence today. Flynn seemed to be scoring well from space as he was getting to Wolf’s legs almost at will.

Next: In his R24 bout Flynn will see #33 Joe Smith, OKST. Smith is a past two time AA at 157. Smith is skilled, but is cutting a lot of weight and seeing him early on day two is about as good a scenario as you could ask for. Smith has been gassing a lot lately and Flynn has really solid conditioning. I look for Flynn to hold serve here. In a potential R16 match Flynn would see either #9 Demetrious Romero, UVU or #10 Branson Ashworth of Wyoming. Ashworth majored Flynn at CKLV, but I do not believe he has previously met Romero. Flynn will have to wrestle really well today to make the R12 match and have an opportunity to AA.


#2 Daniel Lewis Fall over #31 Travis Stefanik, PRIN
#2 Daniel Lewis Fall over #15 Ryan Christiansen, WISC

Thoughts: Lewis picked up two huge falls for the team. Lewis was extremely slick on his feet. He was not at all tested on day one and was able to lock up some impressive cradles to grab falls against two game opponents.

Next: In his quarters match Lewis will see #10 Mike Labriola from Nebraska. Labriola is long for the weight class and is an excellent scrambler, but I do not anticipate him having much for Lewis here. I think Lewis will grab either his third pin here or a controlled bout and will move on to a potential semifinal with #3 Zahid Valencia. Lewis pinned Valencia early in February in what was a really competitive match. I am excited to see if Lewis can prove it was not a one-off, because I believe he will get another win in the semis tonight.


#19 Cam Caffey, MICH ST. Dec. #14 Dylan Wisman 7-5
#14 Dylan Wisman Dec. #30 Dom Ducharme CSUB 8-4
Thoughts: Wisman looked really good for large parts of his first match, and in my opinion he was the better wrestler of the two. He controlled position on his feet for almost the entire match and was extremely close to a cradle on the edge. Three cautions and a couple mental lapses really cost Wisman here in an extremely frustrating loss. In his second bout Wisman got an early takedown and rode hard. It was good to see him push to the finish and collect a W to advance here.

Next: In the R24 Wisman will see #4 Emery Parker, Illinois who handed Wisman a 5-3 loss in the first dual of the season. Wisman at his best can potentially beat Parker and if he manages it he would see #12 Wilke of Iowa or #22 Reinhardt of Wisconsin in the R16. Wisman will need to get to his offense here early and really continue to scrap hard if he wants to have a shot at the R12.


#20 Zach Elam SV1 #13 Matt Voss, GM 3-1
#4 Jordan Wood, LEH Dec. #20 Zach Elam 3-0

Thoughts: Overall I thought Elam wrestled well on day one. Voss is really solid and Elam refused to really give him ground and largely controlled the ties. Elam hit a slick slide-by in overtime to collect the win. In the second match Wood controlled the ties and pacing and was just too tough from the top position, but overall Elam fought really hard. I am excited to see Elam compete on day two.

Next: In the R24 Elam will see #33 Jacob Aven of Purdue. Aven defeated Elam in TB2 in December, but I walked away thinking that Elam was the more skilled of the two wrestlers and I hope he shows how far he has progressed from neutral here. In the R16 Elam would see either #12 Conan Jennings, NW or #27 Cary Miller of APP ST. Jennings is a large heavyweight and Elam may have a hard time with his size, but Elam is quicker and could likely turn that to his advantage. Elam has a solid draw to advance to the R12 if he can find some offense.

Team: The team wrestled pretty well on day one. Hopefully they can build on it and advance a bunch of guys into the semis and bloodround. Anything can happen if you can make it to those bouts. A top four finish is not yet out of reach for Missouri. A lot will depend on guys staying alive and grabbing bonus points where they can. I am excited to see how day two goes. Thanks for reading.