March 21, 2014
• Championship Central
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- To label Wisconsin senior Tyler Graff as one of the more persevering and poised wrestlers in the NCAA might even be an understatement.
Less than 10 hours after securing his fourth All-America honor, the Loveland, Colo., native upended No. 1 seed Joe Colon of Northern Iowa in the 133 lbs., semifinals at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Chesapeake Energy Arena to advance to the championship bout.
Graff fell to Colon twice earlier this season but his past defeats against the UNI senior didn’t appear to faze him Friday night. He beat Colon, who entered the semifinal bout with a 33-1 record, by decision, 6-4 and cemented his place as one of the most decorated UW wrestlers in program history.
Graff likely would have found himself in the same position as last year if not for his strong start against Colon. In 2013, Graff lost to Iowa’s Tony Ramos in the semifinal match and had to wrestle his way to a third-place finish.
This year, Graff will square off against Ramos on the biggest stage of his career. The championship matches are set to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night and will be televised on ESPN.
Graff placed fifth at the NCAAs in 2010 and 2011 and took an Olympic redshirt in 2012. He now is presented with an opportunity to avenge the three losses he has suffered against Ramos. He has lost to the Iowa senior in each of the past two Big Ten Championships and lost in a semifinal match at last year’s NCAA’s, 6-4, in the second sudden victory period. Graff’s lone win against the Hawkeye came during his sophomore campaign in 2011, when he won 3-1 in the first sudden victory period.
Not to be overshadowed by Graff’s upset early Friday night, redshirt freshman Isaac Jordan also notched All-America honors by winning his fourth round consolation match.
After nearly being shutout in Session III early Friday afternoon, Jordan’s offensive attack came to life against North Carolina State’s Thomas Gantt in the evening session. Jordan posted a commanding 8-0 victory to give UW its second and final All-American of the season.
Jordan then fell to No. 1 seed James Green of Nebraska by technical fall, 16-0, in a fifth round consolation match. Jordan will wrestle for seventh place Saturday morning.
Heavyweight Connor Medbery just missed out on a chance for his first All-America honor after falling to Northwestern’s Michael McMullan by decision, 3-2, in a fourth-round consolation bout. McMullan, the No. 6 seed, broke a 1-1 tie with 30 seconds left in the final period. Medbery responded with an escape with about 10 seconds remaining but failed to get anything going in the final seconds. Medbery closes out his redshirt sophomore year with a 26-9 record.
Session V of the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships is set to begin at 10 a.m. (CT) Saturday with the consolation semifinals followed by the third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches. Session VI, consisting of the championship final matches, starts at 7 p.m.