ROANOKE, Va. – For the second time in three years, the Johnson & Wales University wrestling team has two guys in the hunt for a national championship. The Wildcats have three wrestlers alive after day one of the NCAA Championships at the Berglund Center.
The Wildcats are tied with Mount Union for fifth at 33.5 points. Defending champion Wartburg is three points ahead in third place while Ithaca is only half a point ahead in fourth place. Augsburg leads the way with 71.5 points.
Saturday's action begins at 10 a.m. with the championship semifinals and consolation quarterfinals.
The defending national champion, Albis opened his title defense with a 9-1 major decision at 125 pounds over Wabash's Carlos Champagne. He became the program's first three-time All-American when he beat Ferdinand Mase of Ithaca, the No. 8 seed, 4-0.
Thomas, ranked third at 184 pounds, moved on to the semifinals with a pair of victories. He started his run with a 10-3 win over Stevens' Michael Dooley. A third-period escape and takedown gave Thomas a 5-3 win over Nick Stencel from Wisconsin-Whitewater and his second-straight All-America award.
At 133 pounds, the No. 4 seed Jordan had to overcome an early deficit to beat Wabash's Owen Doster, 6-5, in the preliminary round. He couldn't duplicate that feat in the first round, falling 10-5 to Stevens' Yoseph Borai. In the consolation bracket first round, he got a point for riding time to beat the number five seed, Brice Everson of Loras. A takedown with 35 seconds left gave him a 6-5 win over Wisconsin-La Crosse's Josh Stenger and his second All-America award.
Top-seeded Da'mani Burns at 149 pounds barely broke a sweat in his first NCAA Championship match as he pinned Loras' Kevin Kelly in just 27 seconds to open at 149 pounds. Burns only needed 37 seconds to pin Jarrad Lasko of John Carroll in the opening round. He was handed a 21-6 defeat in the quarterfinals by the number eight seed, Greg Warner from York. He couldn't rebound in the semifinals as he was pinned by the number two seed, Zach Cooper of Alma.
Two-time All-American Joe Ferinde got a takedown and two back points to win his preliminary match, 8-4 against John Carroll's Jarrod Brezovec. He moved on to the quarterfinals by rallying to pin the seventh seed, Brady Fritz of Wartburg, at the 6:29 mark. Ferinde couldn't pull off the upset in the quarters as he dropped a close 3-1 decision to the number two seed, Ithaca's Ben Brisman. Unfortunately, he couldn't get his third All-America award as he fell 9-1 in the consolation bracket to Ferrum's Mario Vazquez
Riding time gave the sixth seed at 197 pounds, Michael DiNardo, his first NCAA victory, 3-2, over Travis Ogden from Lycoming. Third-seeded Lance Benick was too much for him, handing DiNardo a 14-2 loss in the quarterfinals. His season was ended with a 6-0 loss to Zeckary Lehman from Baldwin Wallace in the consols.
In his first NCAA Championship match, Michael Gargano was a 5-2 winner in 174 prelims over Brian Shermeyer of Messiah. He fell 10-3 to the eighth seed, Jake Voss from Coe, in the first round. Unfortunately, his career came to an end with a 5-3 loss to Centenary's Jordan Juliano.
Adrian Gonzalez had a tough match in the prelims of 165, dropping a 5-0 decision to the fourth seed Kyle Hatch of Wabash. He rebounded to beat Alec Donovan from Centenary, 11-6. His run was ended, 6-3, by a familiar foe, Nick Remke from Coast Guard.
In his first NCAA Championship appearance, freshman Tommy Wrzesien lost 23-6 in his opening match to Drew Kasper from Otterbein. His run was ended by Coast Guard's Patrick Irwin, 17-0.