Juniors Craig Brester and Jordan Burroughs won their semifinal matches during Session IV of the 2009 NCAA Championships on Friday to keep Nebraska in the hunt for a second-consecutive team trophy. The Huskers went 2-2 during the session to up their team total to 69 points, trailing only Ohio State (84.5), Iowa (81) and Iowa State (71.5).
Brester (197) and Burroughs (157) become the first duo of NU wrestlers to reach the NCAA finals in the same year since Jason Powell (125) and Matt Murray (141) accomplished the feat in 2004. NU has earned two national titles in one year just once, with Jim and Bill Scherr both earning first in 1984.
“Jordan wrestled an outstanding match against [Gregor] Gillespie and really dominated the match,” Head Coach Mark Manning said. “Obviously, Craig got behind and came back. Craig showed a lot of heart against a really good kid.”
Top-seeded Burroughs advanced with an impressive major decision over fourth-seeded Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro, the national champion at 149 pounds in 2007. Burroughs took an early lead with a takedown 15 seconds into the match and was in on several other shots throughout the first period.
Gillespie tied the match at two after an escape in the second period, but Burroughs earned two takedowns and a stalling call to enter the final period up 7-3. Burroughs chose neutral and added two more takedowns and a 1:30 riding-time advantage for the 12-4 win.
Burroughs has recorded a technical fall, pin and two major decisions in his four matches at nationals to move his season record to 34-0. Burroughs is attempting to become the first Nebraska wrestler ever to finish as an undefeated national champion, and will face a fellow unbeaten wrestler in the finals in second-seeded Michael Poeta of Illinois.
“[Michael] Poeta is tough,” Burroughs said. “He’s a senior. He was a runner-up last year. I know he’s looking forward to finishing his senior year out with a bang, but I’m a junior and I really want that national title. It’s going to be a good match out there.”
Brester surrendered a takedown 1:10 into his match with fourth-seeded Tyrel Todd of Michigan, as Todd built over a minute of riding time. Brester turned the match around with a late escape and took Todd down with 13 seconds left in the period. Brester rode Todd out in the second period to take over the riding time, while an escape in the third gave him a 4-2 lead. Brester sealed the match with a takedown with one minute left in the third for a 7-2 decision. He now faces second-seeded Jake Varner of Iowa State for the fourth time this season.
“We know each other pretty well,” Brester said. “It is going to be a good matchup. It should be a battle and that is why you get into this sport, for battles like this.”
Browne gave up a first period takedown to seventh-seeded Mike Miller of Central Michigan, and Miller rode out Browne the rest of the period. The two exchanged escapes before Browne earned a takedown with 1:07 left to tie the match at three. Miller held a riding-time advantage, so Browne cut the Chippewa to look for a takedown to tie the match, but Miller earned the winning takedown with 18 seconds left. Browne drops to the consolation bracket where he will face Cornell’s Steve Anceravage.
Jones was also on the losing end of his semifinal match, falling to top-seeded Jake Herbert of Northwestern. Herbert earned a takedown and two-point nearfall in the first 30 seconds of the match to jump to a 4-0 lead, collected a takedown in the second period and poured on two more takedowns in the final stanza for an 11-1 major decision. Jones will face Iowa’s Phil Keddy in the consolation bracket tomorrow morning.
“That’s going to determine how we finish as far as those two wrestling back,” Manning said. “That’s going to be huge.”
Wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, while the finals will air live on ESPN at 5:30 p.m.
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations