DETROIT, Mich. – For the second straight season, Jake Woodley has booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Five other Sooners remain in the hunt at the end of day one for OU in Detroit.
“Jake did a nice job,” said head coach Lou Rosselli. “He was very sound and strategic in what he was doing. Proud to see him be able to do that. He’s capable of winning anything if he wrestles to his ability.”
Woodley earned his first career All-American honor as the No. 26 seed at 197 last season, upsetting two top-10 opponents to punch his ticket to the quarterfinals where he won again to secure the All-American status and move into the semifinals. This time around, the No. 13 seeded Woodley started by dismantling No. 20 Jacob Koser of Navy in the first round to book a rematch with Michigan’s No. 4 Patrick Brucki.
Woodley beat Brucki at the start of the year to claim a title at the Michigan State Open and he came out on top of the Michigan man once again with even more on the line this go around. The Pittsburgh native earned a 6-3 decision win powered by takedowns in the first and third periods to move him one step closer to back-to-back All-America honors.
“I had a good day and did well getting to my offense,” said Woodley. “I finished on most of my attacks which is huge. I know that anything is possible in this tournament, and I just need to focus on this one match ahead of me. Even though this is a huge stage, it’s just another match.”
Elsewhere for the Sooners, Joey Prata, Willie McDougald, Justin Thomas, Anthony Mantanona and Keegan Moore all battled to stay alive and have the opportunity to compete on day two.
At 125, Joey Prata dropped his opening round match in an 8-3 decision to NC State’s Jakob Camacho but bounced back nicely to claim his third win on the season over Northern Colorado’s Jace Koelzer.
The redshirt freshman No. 16 McDougald put the first points on the board for OU with a come-from-behind 10-7 decision win over No. 17 Jarrett Degen of Iowa State in the 149-pound bracket. A tough draw in the second round saw him matched up with No. 1 seed Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell. McDougald lost the match 11-5 and will wrestle No. 31 Michael Blockhus of Minnesota in his first wrestlebacks bout tomorrow morning.
157-pounder No. 13 Justin Thomas kicked his tournament off on the right note with a 6-5 decision win over Pitt’s Eli Cleary. The sixth-year senior secured his spot in the second round thanks to two takedowns in the third period, one of which came with just 18 seconds left. He lost in a tight contest with No. 4 Ed Scott of NC State that moved him into the consolation ladder where he will face No. 30 Hunter Richard from Cornell.
No. 15 Anthony Mantanona wrestled in two Big 12 battles on Thursday in the 174-pound weight class. He dropped his first match of the tournament to Northern Iowa’s No. 18 Lance Runyon but would go on to 5-3 decision win over West Virginia’s No. 31 Dennis Robin to move along in the wrestlebacks. He starts his Friday in a matchup with No. 16 Adam Kemp of Cal Poly.
The final win of the day for the Sooners came from No. 27 Keegan Moore in the 184-pound bracket. He faced Michigan State’s Layne Malczewski and Moore controlled the match from start to finish. Eight points in the first period powered him to an 11-5 decision win to ensure he would make it to the second day of the competition. Big 12 foe No. 21 Tate Samuleson of Wyoming waits for him in the Friday morning session.
No. 23 Tony Madrigal wrestled two close matches on Thursday but lost in a 3-1 decision to two top-10 seeds to mark the end of his season. He finished with a 12-12 record and won the 133-pound title at the Michigan State Open.
No. 30 Jacob Butler’s impressive postseason run at 141 came to end on Thursday night. The Elgin, Okla. native lost his first-round matchup, earned a major decision win in his second bout, and then lost again in his third match of the day. The redshirt junior was the only wrestler at the Big 12 Championship to qualify for NCAAs having started unseeded.
Redshirt sophomore No. 30 Josh Heindselman followed a similar path to Butler on Thursday, sandwiching a win between two losses to finish out his season.
THIRD SESSION OPENING MATCHES
No. 19 Joey Prata vs. No. 20 Fabian Gutierez (CHAT)
No. 16 Willie McDougald vs. No. 31 Michael Blockhus (MINN)
No. 13 Justin Thomas vs. No. 30 Hunter Richard (COR)
No. 15 Anthony Mantanona vs. No. 16 Adam Kemp (CP)
No. 27 Keegan Moore vs. No. 21 Tate Samuelson (WYO)
No. 13 Jake Woodley vs. No. 21 Gavin Hoffman (OHST)