All-American Graff captures NCAA third-place title
March 23, 2013
Session V Brackets*http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif*l *Session V Team Standings*http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif*l*Photo Gallery*http://graphics.fansonly.com/graphic...otogallery.gif* l *Postmatch: Barry Davis*http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/wis/gra...Video_Icon.gif
DES MOINES, Iowa --*Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff capped his run through the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a win in the 133 lbs., match Saturday, defeating Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp, 6-3, for the bronze medal.
The third-place title marks Graff’s highest career finish at the NCAA championships. He leaves Des Moines on a winning note as a three-time All-American in his first three seasons of collegiate competition, accomplishments that aren’t lost on the Loveland, Colo., native.
“It feels good having the opportunity to stand on the podium three times and be able to leave the tournament with my hand raised,” Graff said.
While a bronze medal may not have been what Graff set out to accomplish at the NCAA championships, he said that this season’s finish only further motivates him toward his ultimate goal of a national championship.
“This just gives me something more to shoot for next year,” Graff said. “I look forward to my next journey.”
After the success he had this season, Badgers’ head coach Barry Davis said it was important for Graff to end the NCAA championships on a positive note, something he accomplished with the third-place finish.
Davis called Graff’s win a “great way to end the season” and that the finish, combined with the character and leadership he showed throughout the tournament and the season, sets Graff up well for greater success in the future.
“He’s gotten better throughout his career,” Davis said of Graff. “He’s a great kid and he has a great work ethic. He represents himself well, represents the university well and represents his team well, and that will lead him to bigger and better things.”
The third-seeded Graff began session V on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in the consolation semifinals against Minnesota’s fifth-seeded Chris Dardanes. Graff won both of the matches between the two at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, and that success continued in Des Moines with a 7-4 win.
Graff got off to a fast start against Dardanes, scoring two takedowns in the first period and carrying a 4-3 lead into the third and final frame. In the third, Graff closed out the win with a reversal off the start and tacked on a ride time point to advance to the third-place match.
In the bronze medal match against Schopp. the No. 4 seed, Graff again got a first period takedown, but found himself in unfamiliar territory when, after surrendering a three-point near fall in the second period, he trailed in regulation for the first time at the NCAA championships. But, Graff quickly responded with a reversal in the waning seconds of the second to re-build a lead that he would not again relinquish.
Graff added a takedown in the third period against Schopp to secure the victory and the third-place title.
Graff ends the 2013 NCAA Championships with a 5-1 record and ends the 2012-13 season with a 33-6 mark overall.
Jackson Hein (197 lbs.) and Connor Medbery (Hwt.), Wisconsin’s other two NCAA qualifiers who did not place, end their seasons with overall records of 21-12 and 25-8, respectively.*
Session V Results:*
No. 3 Tyler Graff (WIS) dec. No. 5 Chris Dardanes (MINN), 7-4
No. 3 Tyler Graff (WIS) dec. No. 4 A.J. Schopp (EDIN), 6-3*
UW Athletic Communications*