OKLAHOMA CITY — Only 10 wrestlers can stand atop the podium. Just 10 out of 330.
After two days of competition at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, dreams have been crushed as the nation’s best wrestlers converged inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. So far, several top seeds and favorites fell paralleling the opening days of the other national tournament in March bearing the NCAA’s logo.
Yet, no day was more brutal than Friday when three No. 1 seeds fell, including Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt.
The junior 149-pounder saw his national title hopes vanish with a 2-1 loss to Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis in overtime off a last-second escape.
“It’s frustrating,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “The kids are leaving it on the mat. I am not upset with them. I am upset for them.”
Freshman J’den Cox compared Houdashelt losing to watching a general go down in the war zone.
“It's painful,” he said. “Like I almost started crying right there … I was in the room every day with this guy. I know how hard he worked. I know everything he put into this and how much he wanted it. And he put everything that he could in that match, so it was really hard to watch that go down, especially he's one of my good friends.”
Houdashelt and Tsirtsis were the sole top-10 seeds left in the championship bracket.
Others populating “Upset City” were: · Edinboro’s Mitchell Port, who saw his first loss of the season in the quarterfinals at the hands of Evan Henderson from North Carolina. · Nebraska’s James Green, at 157, was pinned in the quarterfinals by Minnesota’s Dylan Ness. · Ness also took care of Kent State’s Ian Miller, who was the fourth seed. · Returning national champion, Derek St. John from Iowa, also lost. · Northern Iowa’s 133-pounder Joe Colon lost in the semifinals. · Nick Dardanes from Minnesota lost in the first round on Thursday.
Houdashelt, though, doesn’t take solace in his company, looking ahead to Saturday’s competition when he can vie for third place.
“You got to really put this away,” Smith said. “Drake is really good at that. He will show up and wrestle tomorrow.”