Senior Daniel Kolodzik won twice in his NCAA debut, while both junior Garrett Frey and sophomore Adam Krop stayed alive for All-America bids, to highlight Princeton's best day at the NCAA Championships in a decade. All three will continue competition Friday during the three-day session in St. Louis, Mo.
The national quarterfinals, as well as the continuation of wrestlebacks, will begin Friday at 11 a.m. EST and can be seen live on both ESPNU HD and ESPN3. The semifinals and more wrestlebacks would begin Friday at 7 p.m., and will also be on ESPNU HD/ESPN3
Kolodzik, who came into the day unseeded at 157 pounds, is one of the final eight competing for the NCAA title. He is the only unseeded wrestler remaining in the draw, and he needs only one more win to become Princeton's first All-America honoree since Greg Parker '03 at the 2003 NCAA Championships.
"He was awesome today," head coach Chris Ayres said. "He was so strong at the end of the match [against Bonin]. He's on a mission here."
He opened the day with a 9-0 major decision over Maryland's Kyle John. A quick takedown and three back points gave Kolodzik a 5-0 lead after one period, and he added an escape point in the second to lead 6-0 into the third.
John started in the neutral position to open the third, but Kolodzik didn't let up. He scored another takedown and followed with a point for riding time to grab a 9-0 major decision.
That set him up against David Bonin of Northern Iowa, who stunned the fourth-seeded Walter Peppelman with a fall in the final five seconds of the opening period. Kolodzik grabbed another quick takedown, but Bonin battled back with an escape and a takedown to lead 3-2 after one. Bonin was able to hold the lead into the third, but Kolodzik had riding time in his favor and was virtually tied.
"I wrestled a little slow at the start, but I felt like I really picked it up," said Kolodzik, the 2012 first-team All-Ivy honoree. "I wanted to push the pace."
He added a takedown to grab the lead, and after an escape, hit a five-point move to put the match away. The riding time point gave Kolodzik a 12-6 victory and sent him into a quarterfinal showdown with fifth-seeded Ganbayar Sanjaa of American, who won two hard-fought matches Thursday. Sanjaa defeated Kolodzik 8-3 in the EIWA third-place match, which Sanjaa controlled almost immediately after a quick five-point move of his own.
"I feel like I didn't really get to wrestle my match last time," Kolodzik said. "When you're down 5-0 that quick, it changes. It always feels good to have your arm raised, but now it's about winning that next match."
While Kolodzik is seeking the top spot on the podium, teammates Frey and Krop are just fighting for any spot among the top eight. While both lost their openers, each came back with strong efforts during the second session to advance to Friday.
Frey opened his third trip to the NCAA championships against the eighth-seeded Levi Mele of Northwestern. Frey went at his opponent aggressively and found himself in a scramble, but Mele caught and pinned the Princeton junior and 2012 EIWA finalist at the 2:38 mark.
That sent him into a consolation match against Shane Young of West Virginia. Frey started aggressively again and scored the opening takedown. That move set the tone for the match, as Young couldn't gain any advanatge over the Princeton tri-captain. Frey added a riding point for an eventual 8-2 victory. He'll need a big upset to continue his journey, as he faces third-seeded Alan Waters of Missouri in his first consolation match Friday.
Krop opened his day with a 6-2 loss against 12th-seeded Tyler Small of Kent State, but he wouldn't let his NCAA championship debut by short-lived. He came back against North Carolina's Evan Henderson, and built an early 4-0 lead with a takedown and back points. Henderson scored a late reversal in the first to cut the deficit to 4-2, but Krop scored two back points again in the second to lead 6-2. Henderson rallied again, scoring an escape and takedown to trail 6-5.
Starting in the down position in the third, Krop escaped to lead 7-5. Henderson challenged for a match-tying takedown, but Krop did what he does best in the waning seconds. He scrambled out of a potential takedown and ended up on top of Henderson for a clinching two points.
Krop will see a familiar face in the next round, as he'll take on Cornell's Michael Nevinger. The two split a pair of matches this season; Nevinger won 4-0 in an early-season tournament, while Krop grabbed a 3-2 win in the dual match season.
"To have three guys still alive going into Friday, and one still in the championship draw, is an amazing feeling," Ayres said. "For Princeton to be honored as the host of the EIWA Championships, and then to advance three into the second day at NCAAs, shows the continued growth of our program. These three have worked so hard for this weekend, and they deserve the success they have achieved."