Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - In front of a sold out Chesapeake Energy Arena, 330 wrestlers began their search for a NCAA wrestling title on Thursday.
After an exciting day of wrestling, three-time defending national champion Penn State leads the team race with 26.5 points, followed by Minnesota and Oklahoma State, which each finished the day with 21.5 points.
125 LBS: 2013 NCAA runner-up, Nico Megaludis of Penn State, The Sports Network's pick to win this weight, won both of his matches Thursday and advanced to Friday morning's quarterfinal round. 2013 National Champion, Jessie Delgado (Illinois) and second seed Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) also advanced to the quarterfinals.
133 LBS: All three top seeds, Joe Colon (Northern Iowa), A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) and The Sports Network's pick Tony Ramos (Iowa) won each of their matches on Thursday. In a major upset, Oklahoma's Cody Brewer ended the title dreams of fourth seed Jon Morrison (Oklahoma State), with a first period pin. The Sports Network's dark horse pick, Cashe Quiroga (Purdue) won both of his matches by decision to advance to Friday's quarterfinals.
141 LBS: Two-time national champion, Logan Steiber (Ohio State) pinned both of his opponents on Thursday and advanced to the quarterfinal round. Top-seeded, Mitchell Port (Edinboro) matched Stieber's performance and pinned both of his foes in the tournament's opening round.
149 LBS: Last year's 141 NCAA champ Kendric Maple from Oklahoma looks strong after moving up to the 149 pound weight class and will meet fifth-seeded Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern in the quarterfinals. The bottom half of the 149 pound bracket is wide open after second-seed Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) and third-seed Chris Villalonga (Cornell) were each defeated on Thursday.
157 LBS: The Sports Network's pick, James Green of Nebraska, looked strong winning both of his matches by a 14-3 margin. Dark horse pick Nestor Taffur of Boston University pinned both of his foes and will meet 2013 All-American Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) in the quarterfinals.
165 LBS: Penn State's David Taylor continued his undefeated season with two falls on Thursday. Fourth-seeded Steven Monk of North Dakota State also recorded a pin on Thursday and appears to be on course for a semifinal match- up against Taylor.
174 LBS: Three-time NCAA finalist and The Sports Network's pick, Andrew Howe of Oklahoma, looked strong with a pin and a major decision on his way to the quarterfinals. Oklahoma State's returning NCAA champion, Chris Perry remained alive with two major decision victories.
184 LBS: Ed Ruth helped Penn State's national title hopes with a pin and a technical-fall on Thursday. Dark horse, Ophir Bernstein of Brown advanced to the quarterfinals with two victories on Thursday. Bernstein has a realistic chance to advance to the semifinals because fourth-seeded Max Thomusseit (Pitt) was upset by 13-seed Jack Dechow (Old Dominion), who will face Bernstein in Friday's quarterfinal.
197 LBS: Missouri freshman J'Den Cox looks like the wrestler to beat at this weight, easily dispatching both of his opponents on Thursday. The Sports Network pre-tournament pick, Kyven Gadson of Iowa State, also advanced to the quarterfinals, where he will face Minnesota's fourth-seeded Scott Schiller.
HWT: Two-time returning NCAA champ Tony Nelson of Minnesota advanced to the quarterfinals after surviving a first-round scare. Nelson will face dark horse Connor Medbery (Wisconsin), who looked strong on Thursday, earning a pin and major decision.