ST. LOUIS - Jake Swartz and Brian Owen each have their hopes alive for All-American finishes at the Division I NCAA Championships after the first day of competition at the Scottrade Center, Thursday. Swartz went won his first two matches before falling in the third while Owen lost his opener but rebounded with a win in the wrestlebacks. George Ivanov and Brent Chriswell each had their tournament dreams dashed with consecutive losses.
Redshirt sophomore Jake Swartz started things off with a 5-0 win against West Virginia's Matt Ryan. Swartz' was in the group of 10 pigtail matches which were the first to touch the mats.
"It was intense, it was the first time I had ever started a tournament because I am a bigger guy" said Swartz. "There were a lot more nerves and a lot more looking around and waiting out there which was the worst. My nerves got a little out of control but when the match started I was able to calm down."
The bout started slow with both competitors staying on their feet, waiting for their opportunity. Swartz broke the deadlock by taking down Ryan with 14 seconds remaining in the first period. Swartz started down in the second period, but didn't stay there standing up with Ryan on his back and getting a two point reversal. In control, Swartz kept the match neutral and rode out a 5-0 decision after earning the riding time point.
Swartz picked up his second with of the day with a 5-2 decision against Ryan Garringer of Ohio. Swartz took a 2-1 lead after the first period before a scoreless second period. In the third, Swartz worked to reverse his position and take a 4-1 lead and would eventually notch the riding time point to secure the fourth NCAA victory of his career.
In the round of 16, Jake Swartz faced-off against No. 7 Josh Ihnen of Nebraska in what turned out to be a grueling 3-2 loss. An Ihnen takedown with less than a minute left in the first period dictated the match as Swartz' escapes in both the first and second periods could only even the score with Ihnen having the choice to choose down in the third. Ihnen pulled out with a quick escape in the final frame, causing Swartz to shoot desperately for two points, but to no avail.
After falling to No. 3 seed Tony Ramos of Iowa in the first round of the 133-pound bracket, Brian Owen won his second match in a defensive battle against West Virginia's Nathan Pennesi. Pennesi took the first lead of the bout with an escape in the second period, but it took him 1:25 to do so, giving Owen a sturdy riding time advantage. Owen earned his escape in the final period in much quicker fashion than his opponent to stay over the one minute mark in riding time and take the 2-1 decision.
George Ivanov's first-round bout against Air Force's Josh Kreimier was similar to that of Swartz, low-scoring with rare, strategic shots. Ivanov made a solid move at the end of the first round to get a takedown but was Kreimier responded with a reversal as time expired. Kreimier got the escape and 3-2 lead in the second, which is how the period ended. Ivanov, looking for a takedown to notch the win, chose neutral to start the third period. As time winded down the junior-transfer's attacks became more desperate, and with five seconds remaining, Kreimier jumped on an attempt and turned the score to 5-2. Ivanov's tournament ended in session II with an 11-4 decision at the hands of John Nicholson of Old Dominion.
Brent Chriswell opened the tournament against No. 5 seed Cayle Byers of Oklahoma State. Byers outscored Chriswell 2-1 in each of the first two periods, making the total 4-2 heading into the final period, but took control at the end for a major decision victory of 12-3. Chriswell lost his second bout of the day against Richard Perry of Bloomsburg, 6-3.
Swartz and Owen each need three more wins to secure All-American status. Each will face Boilermakers from Purdue tomorrow. Owen will take on No. 9 Cashe Quiroga who earned All-America honors (sixth place) in 2010 at 125 bounds before taking a redshirt last season. Swartz will square-off against redshirt freshman against Braden Atwood who entered the tournament with a 22-13 record. Atwood has yet to win a match in the tournament; he advanced by an opponent medical forfeit in the consolation first round.
The duo will have the opportunity to wrestle four matches tomorrow, two in the morning and two in the evening. The sessions begin at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.