Sophomore Abram Ayala was the breakout star of the 2013-14 Princeton wrestling season. And he wasn't ready for that season to end. Ayala won his opening consolation match at the NCAA Championships to advance to the second day in Oklahoma City.
Ayala will have his work cut out for him in Session III, where he will face sixth-seeded Richard Perry of Bloomsburg. Perry was upset 4-3 in the Round of 16 by the 11th-seeded Nathan Burak of Iowa. You can watch the match live on ESPN3; check both the @PUTigers and @tigerwrestling feeds to learn which mat Ayala will compete on.
In his opener, Ayala faced off against fifth-seeded Kyven Gadson of Iowa State. Gadson, who is currently the top-ranked wrestler in the nation according to InterMat, was able to score a quick takedown in the first period, and he showed his dominance on top by riding Ayala for more than two minutes to close the period.
Gadson escaped to start the second period, but Ayala attempted to push the pace throughout the middle period in search for his first takedown. Gadson thwarted the efforts, but Ayala chose the neutral position to start the final period and continued searching out a takedown. Gadson was able to win a scramble midway through the period to open a 5-0 lead, and despite a late Ayala escape, the fifth seed advanced with a 6-1 victory.
He took on unseeded Marshall Haas of The Citadel in the first round of consolation matches, and he was able to grab his first lead of the day during the first period with a takedown. Haas got a reversal, but Ayala escaped in time for a 3-2 lead. An Ayala escape and takedown helped him establish a 6-3 lead entering the final two minutes, but Haas got back within two points with a third-period escape.
At that point, Ayala went for his reliable double leg, and it secured a crucial final takedown en route to a 9-7 victory.
"I'm excited for Abram that he gets to keep wrestling," head coach Chris Ayres said. "Winning any match at NCAAs is an accomplishment, but I know he isn't satisfied. He'll come out focused and ready Friday."