Pair of Wildcats Advance to NCAA Semi's
March 22, 2013
2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships - Session III
Site: Wells-Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Live Stats & Updated Brackets: TrackWrestling.com
NU in Team Standings: 18th/18.5 points
2013 NCAA Wrestling Brackets http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif
Session IV (Semifinals): Friday, March 22, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Session V (Medal Round) - Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. (ESPNU)
Session VI (Finals) - Saturday, March 23, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
DES MOINES, Iowa - Two Northwestern wrestlers are still in the hunt for a national title after the conclusion of Session III of the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Wells-Fargo Arena. NU returning All-Americans Jason Welch (157) and Mike McMullan (285) won their quarterfinal bouts to secure spots in the semifinal matches in their respective weights this evening.
"Obviously both guys wrestled exceptionally well," Northwestern head coach Drew Pariano said. "It's a high-pressure situation and they did a really good job with the environment, preparing themselves for the match, their warm-up was perfect and they were ready to wrestle seven minutes hard."
Both wrestlers also officially achieved All-American status, as they can finish no worse than fifth place in the tournament. Welch becomes the sixth three-time All-American in program history while McMullan, a sophomore, earns the honor for the second-straight season, becoming the 16th two-time All-American for Northwestern.
Top-seeded Jason Welch pulled off another dramatic comeback victory to earn a trip to the semifinals at 157 for the third consecutive year. He faced off against No. 8 seed Dylan Alton of Penn State and trailed 2-1 after the first period. Alton started the second period down and added an escape to go up 3-1 heading into the final frame. Welch cut the deficit to one point with an escape just five seconds into the period and was awarded a takedown to go ahead 4-3 but the Penn State coaches challenged the officials' call. After a video review, the call was overturned and Alton remained ahead 3-2. Welch did not back down though and scored a takedown with 38 seconds left, tacked on three nearfall points and accumulated 1:20 of riding time to take the 8-3 victory.
"I thought I was going to be up by one and be able to ride him out," Welch said when recounting the final minute of the match. "The call gets reversed so I'm down by one point with a minute to go and I've had about a minute to recover from the review, which was nice. I started to think that my dream of winning national's is on the line here so there's no reason not to sprint, not to go until I can't anymore this last minute. I definitely wanted to create a scramble because I have faith in my conditioning and when I'm in a scramble position. Not only am I good there, but I know I'm going to be able to push through. I just wanted to get in tight, create a scramble position and just flow from there."
Welch scored seven points in the third period against Alton to record his third win of the tournament and 115th of his career, which moves him into a tie for seventh in Northwestern history (Joei Bales 1986-89, Scott Schatzman 1995-00).
"I just feel like Jason is one of the favorite guys to watch wrestle," Pariano added." A lot of people have come up and talked to him and said `You wrestle an exciting style'. Jason is never out of a match and I think he proved that again today. There was a little bit of controversy, he took that on, and was able to come out with big points towards the end of the match."
The Walnut Creek, Calif., native advances to the 157 semifinal bout this evening against unseeded David Bonin of Northern Iowa. Welch had a historic victory against Bonin on Jan. 20, defeating the UNI wrestler 8-3 to pick up his 100th career win.
No. 5 seed Mike McMullan earned his first trip to the NCAA semifinals, defeating fourth-seeded Chad Hanke 5-3 in the 285 quarterfinals. McMullan scored the first takedown and had the 2-1 lead after one with a Hanke escape. McMullan started the second period down and reversed Hanke to go ahead 4-1. Hanke added another escape, but McMullan had 1:25 of riding time going into the third. Hanke cut the deficit to one (4-3) after a third-period escape but McMullan held on for the 5-3 victory with 1:34 of riding time.
"I think Mike is such a big tournament wrestler and he's proven it the last two years," Pariano said. "He just rises to the occasion. Early in the year, you deal with being out of the lineup and now you're in the lineup and you're beating all of these guys that you didn't have an opportunity to wrestle during the year. That takes a really tough person to be able to do that. He's showing how tough he is."
McMullan now faces top-seeded Dom Bradley of Missouri in the 285 semifinals. These two did not meet during the regular season, but wrestled an exhibition match at the 2012 NWCA All-Star Classic.
The Easton, Pa., native is officially a two-time All-American after placing third in 2012. Last year, McMullan dropped his quarterfinal bout to the eventual NCAA champion, and wrestled his way back to a third-place finish. McMullan is now the 16th two-time All-American in program history and the fourth heavyweight to earn All-American status twice (Rory Weber, three-time All-American, 1960-62; Jack Riley, two-time All-American, 1931, 1932; Dustin Fox, two-time All-American, 2007, 2008).
"It's pretty relieving knowing that I will be on the podium," McMullan said. "Last year, I was in the quarters and lost so between now and the night session, you're freaking out a little bit. Now that I've solidified a spot on there this year, it's easier to wrestle a little more open. I look forward to doing that tonight and the rest of the tournament."
Sophomore Pierce Harger competed in the 165 lbs. wrestleback round Friday morning against Missouri's Zach Toal. After a scoreless first, Harger escaped with 1:03 left in the second to lead 1-0 and limit Toal's riding time to 57 seconds. Toal evened things up with an escape in the third and scored a takedown to go ahead 3-1. Harger escaped, cutting the deficit to one, but Toal had just enough riding time (1:04) to take the 4-2 victory. Harger finished his trip at NCAA's 1-2 and concluded his sophomore campaign with a 26-10 record.
Session IV begins at 6 p.m. CT Friday evening. Wildcat fans can watch Welch and McMullan wrestle in the semifinals on ESPNU.
157: No. 1 Jason Welch (NU) dec No. 8 Dylan Alton (PSU), 8-3
285: No. 5 Mike McMullan (NU) dec No. 4 Chad Hanke (Oregon State), 5-3
165: Zach Toal (Missouri) dec Pierce Harger (NU), 4-2
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!