|Sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo ended his first trip to the NCAA Championships in session III against Northwestern's Michael McMullan, 4-0.
Oklahoma City, Okla. –
West Virginia University's run in the 2014 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City came to an end today, with senior Colin Johnston
(141) and sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo
being knocked out of the second round of the consolation brackets.
“We took five to nationals, and only was a one senior. The underclassmen will take a great amount of value out of this experience,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “I really felt that Colin (Johnston) and Mike (Morales) had excellent opportunities to stand on podium, but it is a game of inches. We had opportunities for takedowns that were right there, but we just couldn’t finish. We really wanted to come away with someone on the podium, but the good thing is we bring four people back that now have this experience.”
Johnston's run through the tournament ended against the No. 7-seeded Zach Horan from Central Michigan, dropping the decision 3-2. After a scramble on the edge of the mat, Horan struck first with a takedown with less than a minute remaining in the period. Johnston escaped quickly though, only surrendering 10 seconds of ride time. Trailing 2-1, Johnston started in the down position in the second, and popped immediately to his feet and out to knot the score. Horan took the down position in the third, and regained the lead with an escape. After a long scramble and down a point, Johnston jumped over Horan with time expiring, but could not gain full control to score.
“Colin's two years out of competition just took too much of a competitive edge out of him,” Turnbull says. “He closed the gap, but he needed that extra poise in those close matches. He gave it a good shot to overcome two shoulder surgeries.”
Vizcarrondo's first trip to the NCAA Championships came to a close against former training partner at Wyoming Seminary College Prep, Michael McMullan of Northwestern, who entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed. Vizcarrondo shot early, but was unable to gain control over McMullan for the takedown. After a scramble, McMullan tallied the bout's first points with a takedown in the first. Trailing 2-0, Vizcarrondo covered to start the second period. He quickly surrendered the escape to McMullan, extending the deficit to three. Vizcarrondo started the third on bottom, and was unable to escape from under McMullan, dropping the decision, 4-0.
Johnston concluded his career as a Mountaineer with 65 victories. His 28 victories this season tied him in third in the program records books for single-season wins by a 141-pounder, and his nine wins by fall ties him at No. 8 in WVU history. He was the first WVU wrestler to earn Big 12 Wrestler of the Week honors, coming on Jan. 20, and is the only Mountaineer to take a No. 1 seed to the Big 12 Championships.
After splitting time as the starter with freshman Dink Purnell
, Vizcarrondo emerged as WVU's top heavyweight with a fourth-place finish at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 22. Vizcarrondo amassed 20 wins this year, one shy of breaking into the top five in program history for single-season wins by a heavyweight. He was the third Mountaineer to ever be named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, earning the honor on Feb. 10, and his second-place finish at the Big 12 Championships on March 8 is the best placement in program history at the event.