UM's Eric Grajales will try to knock off #2 Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern in the semis.
12/29- After the first day of the 51st Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at Northwestern University, several Michiganders are still in the hunt to place in the top 8 of their respective brackets. Three wrestlers from Michigan- Eric Grajales, Taylor Massa, and Adam Coon- advanced to the semifinals. Ten others will need to win their first match of the morning session to solidify their place on the podium.
Grajales looked strong, dominating his first two matches and then posting a decisive 6-0 victory over VA Tech's Zach Neibert, an All-American at 141 last year. He will face #1 seed Jason Tsirtsis of the host Northwestern Wildcasts in the semis.
Massa, who is wrestling unattached due to his redshirt, posted two falls in his rampage through the bracket on Day 1. The St. Johns product will take on Nick Moore of Iowa, who is ranked 4th in the country. This will be the first meeting between the two since Moore defeated Massa in three periods at the 2012 FILA Junior Nationals.
Adam Coon continued his incredible start to his collegiate career, opening the tournament with decisive wins over his first two opponents, and then knocking off Eric Thompson of Grand View. Thompson, who was the #1 HS Heavyweight in the county coming out of high school in 2008, is the 2-time defending NAIA National Champion. Coon will get another test in the semis, where he takes on Spencer Myers of Maryland, who was an All-American in 2011.
Michigan has a pair of 125 pounders still alive as well. 8th seeded Conor Youtsey and Sean Boyle fell in the quarterfinals to the 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. Youtsey fell to #1 ranked Jesse Delgado of Illinois, 6-2, and will take on Billy Rappo of Maryland. Boyle who came into the tourney unseeded, knocked off the 10 and 7 seeds on his way to the quarters, will face off against Billy Watterson of Brown.
Like Youtsey, Michigan's Rossi Bruno's only loss in the tournament came at the hands of the #1 ranked wrester in the nation. He fell to AJ Schopp from Edinboro, 6-0. His opponent in the wrestlebacks will be Chuck Zeisloft of Rider.
The lone EMU wrestler remaining in the tournament is Brandon Zeerip at 157 lbs. Zeerip won his first three matches, including an upset win over 7th seed Markus Scheidel of Columbia, 11-8. After losing in the quarters, he will try to knock off highly touted freshman Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in the morning.
Lowell's Andrew Morse fell victim to an upset loss in his second match, where he dropped a 10-7 decision to Destin McCauley of Nebraska. After recording two falls in the consolation bracket, he will meet up with Chad Ryan of Columbia in the blood round.
Like younger brother Andrew, Jackson Morse will need a win in the morning session to advance. Jackson dropped a 5-2 match in the quarters to Cooper Moore of Northern Iowa, and will wrestle Grand View's Chad Lowman. Lowman was last year's NAIA National Champ at 157 lbs.
Holly native Josh Houldsworth had an impressive opening day as he defeated Indiana's Ryan LeBlanc and then lost a 1-0 nailbiter to #1 seed Steven Monk of ND State. His opponent in the Round of 12 will be Devon Gobbo of Harvard, whom Houldsworth soundly defeated 10-1 in their only meeting last year.
Wolverine Collin Zeerip opened his tourney with an upset fall over 10th seeded Jimmie Schuessler before getting pinned in the following round. Zeerip responded with two straight victories in the wrestlebacks and will face Scott Liegel of Wisconsin in the morning session.
Jordan Wohlfert, wrestling unattached for MSU and unseeded in the tournament, made a run to the quarterfinals before losing a close match to Zach Epperly of VA Tech. Wohlfert will wrestle Monte Schmalhaus of Utah Valley, an opponent he pinned in the first period last season.
True freshman, and fresh out of redshirt, Domenic Abounader survived an overtime scare in the opening round and added another win to advance to the quarterfinals. There, he dropped a 6-1 bout to Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh. His opponent tomorrow will be Kurtis Julson of ND State.
Also noteworthy, former CMU assistant coach Stephen Dwyer entered the tournament as a post-graduate competitor. Dwyer dropped his first match to #1 seed Bobby Telford of Iowa, 6-0 before rattling off three straight wins. He faces 5th seeded Conor Medberry of Wisconsin in the morning. This is Dwyer's first ever competition at heavyweight, as he competed at 165 and 174 in college. Yes, you read that correctly.
Action will resume at 1 p.m. EST and can be followed via Live Audio Stream, provided by Takedown Wrestling Media, at The Open Mat. The finals will be shown live on Big Ten Network starting at 9 p.m. EST.
For additional information, be sure to check out the brackets here.