GATEWAY TO ALL-AMERICA: Monarch Wrestler An All-American at NCAA Tournament
By ODU Athletics
March 21, 2008
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- For the 22nd time in ODU history, the wrestling program will bring home an All-American wrestler as 125-pounder James Nicholson, the ten seed from Des Moines, Iowa, wrestled his way onto the podium at the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Nicholson will wrestle in Saturday's 7th/8th place bout on ESPNU at 11:00 a.m. as he takes on #8 Brandon Precin (Northwestern). ODU as a team finished with 10 total points, good for 35th among the 74 teams in attendance and ahead of perennial power Oklahoma.
"It's a very big stepping stone for our program," said head coach Steve Martin. "He's a freshman and has three years left. To earn All-American status as a freshman is pretty solid. Overall, we felt like we could have had a couple more, but this is a good experience for the kids to get out there in this atmosphere. Nicholson turned some heads this weekend...his win was huge."
Nicholson was one of four Monarchs still alive on day two and the only ODU wrestler still in the championship bracket. The 125-pounder needed just one win on the second day for All-American status. In his first bout of the day, #2 Jayson Ness (Minnesota) pinned Nicholson in the second period to send him to the consolation bracket.
The second bout was a tight matchup against #9 Rollie Peterkin (Penn) that ended in overtime. Nicholson and Peterkin were knotted up at three points apiece in the first overtime period when Nicholson took a shot and scored the match-winning takedown to become the first All-American for ODU since 1995.
"I just had to get that takedown," said Nicholson. "There's no other way. If you lose, everyone's gonna say 'you'll get it next year'; I hate that phrase."
He would have one more match in the day, as he faced Penn State's Mark McKnight in the 6th Round of the Consolation Bracket. With a lot of aggressive action from both wrestlers, but no scoring, the match ended regulation in a 1-1 tie. Nicholson fought for a score in the overtime period, but McKnight managed to turn the Monarchs near takedown into a score of his own and advance. Nicholson will wrestle in the 7th/8th place bout on Saturday morning.
"It feels good to be an All-American. It's going to be a good recruiting tool for the springtime and we can only go up from here. I've got three years after this to do some damage. It means a lot for the program and it means a lot for me too."
The three other Monarchs all lost their first match on day two. Kyle Hutter (133) dropped a 6-3 decision to Reece Humphrey (Ohio State); Ryan Williams (141) ended his second trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 10-5 loss to Liberty's Tim Harner; and Chris Brown (165) matched up well against Patrick Pitsch (ASU) but gave up a third period takedown for the difference in a 5-3 match.
Complete ODU Results Through Day Two:
#10 James Nicholson (ODU) def. Eric Morrill (Edinboro), 8-2
#10 James Nicholson (ODU) def. #7 Michael Sees (Bloomsburg), 7-2
#2 Jayson Ness (Minnesota) def. #10 James Nicholson (ODU), 4:04 fall
#10 James Nicholson (ODU) def. #9 Rollie Peterkin (Penn), 5-3 SV
Mark McKnight (Penn St) def. #10 James Nicholson (ODU), 3-1 SV