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VIDEO: ABRAM AYALA, CHRIS AYRES DISCUSS THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Head coach Chris Ayres referred to Abram Ayala as the inspiration of the team prior to the EIWA Championships. He'd love nothing more than to see his sophomore standout cap a terrific 2013-14 season with his biggest inspirational performance of all.
Ayala (26-10) will make his NCAA Championships debut Thursday in Oklahoma City, Okla., when he takes on fifth-seeded Kyven Gadson of Iowa City in the first round of the 197-pound bracket. The first session will begin at noon Eastern time (11 am local), and every mat will be streamed live on ESPN3. Regardless of his result in the opening session, Ayala will wrestle during the Thursday evening session as well; that is scheduled to start at 7 pm Eastern time.
While Gadson may be the fifth seed, he is actually the top-ranked wrestler in the nation according to InterMat, TheOpenMat.com, ASICS Flowrestling, and W.I.N. Magazine. The two-time reigning Big 12 champion is 25-2 on the season, and he has won 11 straight matches entering the NCAA Championships.
Ayala is making his debut at the NCAA Championships, a spot he earned with his fifth-place finish at the EIWA Championships last weekend. He clinched the spot with a 4-3 quarterfinal win over Daniel Mitchell of American, who was seeded third in the tournament.
"Ayala has been an inspiration to our team all season, and he has improved as much in one season as anybody I have ever worked with," head coach Chris Ayres said. "This is going to be a great experience for him, and I hope he enjoys it and just wrestles as hard as he can."
Ayala comes into the NCAAs with a 26-10 record, and he earned All-Ivy League honorable mention.