2015 New England collegiate wrestling, week 17
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2015 NCAA Division I 
national championships
At St. Louis

NCAA Div. I wrestling

NCAA Division I 
Connecticut All-Americans
Orville Palmer (Middletown), Oklahoma, 197, 7th, 2000
Jim Guzzio (Madison)
Maryland, 134, 5th, 1997
John Engel (Stamford)
Lehigh, 118, 1st, 1931

2015 NCAA Tournament

Kevin Jack (141), 
North Carolina State
Def. (5) Josh Dziewa, Iowa, 6-3
2R: Def. (12) Joseph Ward, North Carolina, 6-5
QF: Def. (4) Devin Carter, Virginia Tech, 10-8
SF: Lost (1) Logan Stieber, Ohio State, 12-2
Conso SF: Lost (14) Dean Heil, Oklahoma State, 12-6
5th place: Def. (11) Chris Mecate, Old Dominion, 3-0

Dominick Malone (133), Northwestern
Lost (13) Cody Brewer, Oklahoma, pin 3:28
Def. Ian Nickell, Cal-Bakersfield, 
Lost (14) Rossi Bruno, Michigan, pin 1:26

Jack McKeever (184)
Lost Ben Stroh, Wyoming, 4-0
Lost Brett Pfarr, Minnesota, 11-4

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Jack earns All-American honors, takes fifth at NCAA tournament
ST. LOUIS, MO., March 21 - He started the 2015 NCAA championships unseeded and a relative unknown in the wrestling community. But after four upsets over seeded wrestlers, N.C. State freshman Kevin Jack of Danbury came away with a fifth place finish at the 2015 NCAA Division I wrestling championships and All-American honors in his first year of collegiate wrestling.

Two other Connecticut wrestlers participated in the tournament. Granby’s Dominick Malone of Northwestern (133) wrestled for the third year. He went 1-2 in the event with an 11-0 win over Ian Nickell of Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of consolations. Brookfield’s Jack McKeever (184) of Binghamton went 0-2 in his NCAA tournament debut.

Jack was outstanding, winning five of seven matches. "Coming in as a true freshman, it was great knocking off three seeded opponents to get to the semifinals last night," said Jack. "Being able to get there relaxed me, and allowed me to compete without all the pressure of trying to become an All-American.

"Honestly, there was nothing better than getting my hand raised in this arena and I got to experience that four times this weekend. Plus I ended my season with a win, it certainly has been a great experience."

Originally going to redshirt this season until an illness opened up a spot in the starting lineup very late in the regular season, Jack made the most of his opportunities after earning an NCAA automatic bid at 141 pounds.

In action on Saturday, Jack split his matches. He fell to No. 14 seed Dean Heil of Oklahoma State, 12-6, but quickly recovered and won his fifth place bout over No. 11 seed Chris Mecate of Old Dominion, 3-0.

Against Mecate, the two wrestled to a scoreless first period. Jack started the second in the down position and his escape was the lone point of the period. Jack started the third on top, and after a second stall was called on Mecate to give Jack a 2-0 lead, Jack rode him out the entire period and with ride time won 3-0.

Jack reached the semifinals with wins over No. 5 seed Josh Dziewa of Iowa (6-3), No. 12 seed Joey Ward of North Carolina (6-5) and No. 4 seed and 2014 NCAA Finalist and four-time ACC champion Devin Carter of Virginia Tech (10-8). Jack's first loss of the tournament was to three-time defending national champion, No. 1 seed Logan Stieber of Ohio State, who eventually won the championship.

Jack was the only opponent Stieber wrestled that he didn’t pin. Jack finished the season with a 31-10 mark and his 31 victories is the most ever for a North Carolina State freshman. It’s also No. 14 all time among Wolfpack single season records for most wins.

Jack became just the fourth wrestler from Connecticut to earn All-American honors at the Division I and the first freshman to do so. The most recent Nutmeg State wrestler to earn All-American honors was Middletown’s Orville Palmer, who finished seventh at 197 pounds for Oklahoma 15 years ago in 2000.

Jack advances to semifinals, earns 
All-American honors
ST. LOUIS, March 20 – North Carolina State freshman Kevin Jack made Connecticut wrestling history Friday at the NCAA Division I national championships. With a two-point reversal with 42 seconds left in the match Jack beat No. 3 seed Devon Carter of Virginia Tech, 10-8 to advance to the semifinals and clinch All-American honors.

Jack, who wrestled at Danbury High, becomes just the fourth wrestler from Connecticut to earn All-American honors and the first since Middletown’s Orville Palmer finished seventh in 2000 for Oklahoma. 

Jack’s hopes to become the first Connecticut wrestler to wrestle for a NCAA Division I title since 1931 was foiled in the semifinals when he lost to three-time national champion Logan Stieber of Ohio State, 12-2. Stieber had three takedowns and a near fall in the bout. But Stieber had to wrestle all seven minutes to beat Jack. Stieber won his previous three bouts by tech fall, pin and tech fall.

"I am very proud of our guys," North Carolina head coach Pat Popolizio said. "It's pretty amazing what a two week turn around can do for a team and an individual. This tournament is all about the will to win, and both Kevin and Nick Gwiazdowski have shown that thus far.

Jack (30-9) has set a new single season record most wins in a season for a Wolfpack freshman. Jack was one of just three true freshmen in the semifinals and one of three unseeded wrestlers in the semifinal round.

Just like his first two tournament victories, Jack’s quarterfinal win also came down to a move late in the third period for Jack. Going into the third period, Jack held an 8-5 lead and Carter got the escape to start the final period to pull within 8-6. Carter then scored a takedown to even it up 8-8, but Jack caught him in a reversal with 30 seconds left and rode out the period for the 10-8 win.

A key sequence in the first period also led to Jack's win. After Carter scored the first takedown, he let Jack up for the escape point. Jack then turned right back, took down Carter and got him on his back to scored three near fall points for an early 6-2 lead.

Carter is a four-time ACC champion, and was the 2014 NCAA runner-up at 141 pounds. "I came to this tournament to wrestle the best wrestlers in the nation," said Jack. "At this point, I felt like I don't have anything to lose. I am going to go out and do whatever I can to win and just wrestle."

With two upset wins, Jack moves into quarterfinals
ST. LOUIS, March 19 – North Carolina State freshman Kevin Jack of Danbury upset two seeded wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I tournament Thursday at 141 pounds. He erased a two-point deficit in one match and a three-point deficit in the second match.

Jack beat senior Josh Dziewa, the No. 5 seed from Iowa, in the first round, 6-3. In the second round, Jack upset Joseph Ward, the No. 12 seed from North Carolina, 6-5. Jack (29-8) moves on to Friday’s quarterfinal where he will face No. 4 Devin Carter (31-3) of Virginia Tech.

Two other Connecticut wrestlers in the tournament lost their opening round bouts. Northwestern’s Dominick Malone (133) of Granby was pinned in the first round by No. 13 Cody Brewer of Oklahoma in 3:28. At 184 pounds, Binghamton’s Jack McKeever of Brookfield dropped a 4-0 decision to Wyoming’s Ben Stroh in the preliminary round.

Jack gave up an early takedown to Dziewa and trailed 3-1 in the second period. But Jack got a takedown with 19 seconds left in the period to tie the bout at 3-3. In the third period, Jack got a reversal with 1:42 remaining to take his first lead of the match, 5-3. He rode out Dziewa in a 6-3 victory.

In the second round, Ward got a quick takedown and a two-point near fall to take a 4-0 lead. Jack cut into the lead with a reversal but Ward got an escape to extend his lead to 5-2 after two periods. In the third period, Jack escaped to cut the lead to two, 5-3. He got a takedown with 21 seconds remaining to tie the match at 5-5 and his advantage in riding time (2:34) gave Jack a 6-5 victory.

Jack had lost to Ward earlier this month at the ACC championships in Pittsburgh, 6-1. With the win, Jack ties the school record for most wins (29) by a freshman at North Carolina State.

Up next for Jack is the quarterfinals on Friday morning against Carter. The semifinals will be Friday evening. Every match of the NCAA tournament is being broadcast on ESPN3. The quarterfinals will be on ESPNU with the semifinals on ESPN.

Three Connecticut wrestlers to compete at NCAA Div. 1 tourney
ST. LOUIS, March 17  – Three Connecticut wrestlers will be competing in the NCAA Division I national tournament beginning Thursday in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center. North Carolina State freshman Kevin Jack (Danbury), Northwestern junior Dominick Malone (Granby) and Binghamton junior Jack McKeever (Brookfield) will be wrestling. There are 330 wrestlers competing in 10 different weight classes.

ESPN will be providing comprehensive coverage. All six sessions will be televised and every match will be broadcast on ESPN3, the online channel. ESPNU will televise the first and second sessions on Thursday, quarterfinals on Friday and medal matches on Saturday. ESPN will televise the semifinals on Friday, March 20 and the finals on Saturday, March 21.

Since 2002, nine Connecticut wrestlers have competed in the NCAA Division I tournament.

Jack (141) was going to be redshirted this winter but he was inserted into the starting lineup on February 14 when starter Sam Speno was forced out of the lineup. Jack won his first three ACC dual meets including a 7-3 win over No. 16 Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. Jack (27-8), who is ranked No. 15 in the country by Intramat, went 2-2 and finished fourth at the ACC Tournament to earn his bid to the NCAA tournament.

He was 22-6 in six open tournaments, winning at the Hokie Open and Citadel Open.

McKeever (184) went 23-14 this season for Binghamton and won three matches at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association tournament. He clinched the NCAA tournament berth with a 3-2 win over Columbia’s Zach Hernandez with a late takedown. It’s the third year in the starting lineup for McKeever at Binghamton.

Malone (133) will be wrestling in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season. He is 21-17 this season and was 2-3 at the recent Big 10 tournament. He owns two wins over top 20 wrestlers this season and has won by pin six times.