One year after two Tiger teammates made runs to the podium at the Midlands Championships, senior Zach Bintliff remains in the mix for a placewinner finish at one of the most prestigious events in the wrestling season.
Bintliff had to take the long route in wrestlebacks after suffering a 10-2 major decision loss to eighth-seeded Josh Wilson of Utah Valley State. The long route could have had a quick ending, but Bintliff came up with an overtime takedown in his first wrestleback for a 10-8 win over Cody Ruggirello of Hofstra, and he followed with a 6-1 win over Northwestern's Dylan Marriott.
He will open Sunday's portion of the competition against the unseeded Christian Barber of North Carolina. He will need three straight victories to start the session to be assured of a place on the medal podium.
Bintliff was joined by four other teammates, all of whom were eliminated Saturday. There were some highlights, though; freshman 184-pounder Scott Gibbons won twice, including a 15-0 technical fall over Wheaton's Mitch Steed in the championship bracket. After a loss to eighth-seeded Joe Rau of Elmhurst, Gibbons topped Bryan Loughlin of Northern Illinois 10-4. He was eliminated in a tight 3-2 decision to Jordan Thomas of Michigan.