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    Trio of `Cats Advance to 2nd Round of NCAA Championships

    March 20, 2014

    Game Photo
    Northwestern NCAA Championships •
    Northwestern: 5.0 points, t-21st place

    Chesapeake Energy Arena • Oklahoma City, Okla.

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – After the first day of the NCAA Championships, three Northwestern wrestlers advanced to the second round of the championships following Thursday’s morning session.

    RS Freshman Jason Tsirtsis (149 lbs.), and juniors Pierce Harger (165) and Mike McMullan (285) all won their first round matchups to advance to Session II at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

    McMullan is making his third trip to the second round of the NCAA Championships, while Tsirtsis advanced in his first trip to NCAAs and Harger advanced to the second round for the first time in his career.

    Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 149 lbs. conference champion Tsirtsis made his NCAA debut facing Bloomsburg’s Bryce Busler.

    No. 5 seed Tsirtsis went up early over Busler 2-0 just 20 seconds into the first period. An escapte by Busler made it 2-1, which remained into the start of the second period. After beginning at the bottom, Tsirtsis escaped to up his lead to 3-1 in the second period. The Wildcat from Crown Point, Ind. maintained his lead and control of Busler. With a riding time advantage, Tsirtsis secured his first NCAA victory by a 4-1 decision.

    Tsirtsis will face Penn State RS senior James English. The unseeded English (12-5) upset No. 12 seed freshman Dyllan Cottrell of Appalachian State 5-4, giving Cottrell (26-2) just his second loss of the season. The Big Ten rivals have not met this season.

    Harger advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career by controlling Missouri’s Zach Toal. Seeded No. 7 at 165 lbs., Harger led 2-0 over Toal before getting him down to record a pin and win by fall at 3:32.

    Harger will face No. 10 seed Cooper Moore from Northern Iowa Thursday evening. 

    In the heavyweight match against North Dakota State’s Evan Knutson, No. 6 seed McMullan took a 2-0 lead one minute into the first period and upped his advantage to 5-2 one minute later, which he maintained throughout the first period. After starting in the down position to begin the second period, he tallied an escape at 1:43 to go up 6-2. It was the only score of the second period and McMullan maintained the lead for a 6-3 final decision. He will face No. 11 seed from Oklahoma State Austin Marsden. 

    In his first trip to NCAAs, Dominick Malone (133) and Alex Polizzi (197) fell in their first round matches and will go again in the wrestlebacks Thursday night.

    At 133 lbs., Northwestern sophomore Dominick Malone made his NCAA career debut and opened up the Wildcats start at the championships in the early morning. Facing fellow Big Ten Conference rival and No. 5 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin, Malone stayed close with Graff in the first period. However, the Badger pulled away to record a tech fall victory 25-9 at the 6:21 mark. 

    Malone will go again in the wrestlebacks against unseeded freshman Kevin Devoy of Drexel. Devoy is 19-10 this season and lost 11-3 by major decision to Central Michigan’s No. 12 seed Joe Roth in the first round.

    In the 197 lbs. first round matchup, No. 16 seed Alex Polizzi led Stanford’s Dan Scherer 5-4, but the Cardinal wrestler grabbed the lead. Scherer went down with an injury, but returned in the match to maintain his lead. Polizzi got two points back to make it 9-7, but could not close the gap and Sherer won by an 11-9 decision.

    In the wrestlebacks, Polizzi will face Navy’s Paul Rands, who was knocked out of the first round after an injury default when facing No. 1 seed Nick Heflin (OSU). 

    First Round Matches
    133: No. 5 Tyler Graff (WIS) tech fall Dominick Malone (NU), 25-9, 6:21
    149: No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (NU) dec. Bryce Busler (BLO), 4-1
    165: No.  7 Pierce Harger (NU) fall Zach Toal (MIZZ), 3:32
    197: Dan Scherer (STAN) dec. Alex Polizzi (NU), 11-9
    285: No. 6 Mike McMullan (NU) dec. Evan Knutson (NDSU), 6-3 

    Thursday Night Matchups
    133: Dominick Malone (NU) vs. Kevin Devoy (DREX)
    197: Alex Polizzi (NU) vs. Paul Rands (NAVY) 

    Second Round Matches
    149: No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (NU) vs. James English (PSU)
    165: No. 7 Pierce Harger (NU) vs. No. 10 Cooper Moore (UNI)
    285: No. 6 Mike McMullan (NU) vs. No. 11 Austin Marsden (OKST)


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