Lauer pins his way into NCAA quarterfinals


KANSAS CITY, Mo. - West Virginia University's Brandon Lauer was so nervous thinking about his first-round match yesterday at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament, he got only two hours of sleep the night before.

The River Hill graduate had a right to be anxious. His first match was against fifth-ranked Zach Roberson, of Iowa State, who two months ago had defeated him by technical fall, wrestling's equivalent of the "slaughter rule."

But yesterday, Lauer, a sophomore, pinned Roberson in the 133-pound bracket at 4:21 with a move called the "chin-whip." Lauer later pinned Jason Cucolo of Sacred Heart at 2:19 to advance to today's quarterfinals.

He'll face Rad Martinez, of Clarion (Pa.) University, who topped Lauer by two points at the Eastern Wrestling League tournament two weeks ago.

Against Roberson, Lauer led 6-4 after the first period, and the match was tied 9-9 in the second before the fall.

"It's the NCAA tournament. Anything can happen," said Lauer, who went 110-0 in high school, winning three Maryland titles. "That [his win over Roberson] was huge. That's probably the biggest win of my career."

Lauer wasn't the only Maryland native to defy the odds in the first round. Navy's Frank Edwards (165 pounds), a three-time state champ out of Sherwood High in Montgomery County, defeated eighth-ranked Noel Thompson of Hofstra, 4-2 in overtime. Edwards lost his next bout to Matt King of Edinboro, 7-2, but will compete again today.

Maryland's Jake Stork (184 pounds), a Pennsylvania native, also won in the opening round, 9-6, over Purdue's Ben Wissle. Stork, who leads the nation with 23 pins this season, scored five points off his "cradle."

But like Edwards, he fell into today's wrestle-back bracket, losing in the second round, 9-8, to Penn State's Mark Becks. Becks, fifth seeded, scored his winning points on a takedown with less than a minute left.

Glenelg graduate Jim O'Connor (North Carolina) lost 8-1 to 14th-ranked Oscar Santiago of Purdue.

Marylander Matt Palmer (Bullis), a 165-pound Columbia University freshman, split his matches, defeating seventh-seed Nick Passolano of Iowa State, 3-0, before losing to Wyoming's Levi Prevost, 9-7, in overtime.

In a huge first-round upset, defending national champion Greg Jones of West Virginia was defeated at 174 pounds by Hofstra's Ralph Everett, 2-1, on an escape with seconds remaining in double overtime. Jones had won 46 straight bouts.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad