For fourth-year wrestler Troy Carlson, second-place at Saturday’s Great Lakes Regional was good enough to earn a second straight trip to the NCAA Championship.
Carlson, who finished as the runner-up at 197 pounds, was one of three Maroons who placed in the Regional, which was held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Second-year Jimmy Schoettle came in fifth at 125 pounds, and third-year heavyweight Ryan Hatten turned in a fourth-place showing that day. Overall, Chicago was eighth out of the 15 teams competing.
Hatten’s fourth-place finish moved him one spot higher than he was seeded going into the meet. All three wrestlers who placed ahead of Hatten in the 285-pound bracket qualified for the national meet, and the coaches present selected Hatten as the third alternate from the Great Lakes region.
“That tells you something about what the other coaches thought of Ryan’s wrestling,” head coach Leo Kocher said.
Kocher was also impressed by the performance of first-year Jim Layton, who finished outside the top six in the 157-pound bracket but gave Augsburg’s Jason Adams—who ultimately won the weight class—his closest match of the day.
“Jim Layton had some great matches,” Kocher said. “He went and lost 2–1 to the eventual champion and a two-time all-American in the quarterfinals, and [Layton] looked very good.”
But the Maroons’ best match of the day probably came from Carlson, who was seeded second and got two technical falls and a 4–2 decision against the third seed before reaching the championship, where he was paired with Augsburg’s Jared Massey.
Besides being the defending national champion, Massey is 55–1 over his college career and won all 24 of his matches in the 2009–2010 season before meeting up with Carlson, who described Massey as “the most accomplished wrestler” he has faced.
On the mat, Carlson kept the match competitive, and only dropped the 6–5 decision after Massey managed a 1:02 riding time, just a hair over the one-minute threshold needing to get a point for a riding time. Because he had beaten the winner of the consolation bracket earlier, Carlson took second automatically and was exempt from a wrestle-back match.
Since the top two in each of the Great Lakes Regional’s ten brackets move on to NCAAs that second-place finish assured Carlson of spot in nationals. On top of those twenty, eight more at-large qualifiers are chosen.
“Wrestling [Massey] in such a close match gives me even more motivation to work hard these next two weeks in preparation for nationals,” Carlson said. “It showed me how close I am with the number one wrestler in the country.”
The national tournament will be held in two weeks, on March 5 and 6, in Cedar Rapids, IA. Carlson, who qualified for NCAAs last year, said that making the tournament was less exciting than it might otherwise have been, since his aim isn’t simply to get to nationals.
“My goal is to be an all-American and national champion,” Carlson said.
To prepare for that, Carlson will continue with intensive training over the next week, before tapering off his workouts during the week leading up to nationals in order to be as well-rested as possible. Along with the conditioning and training, Kocher hopes to refine Carlson’s technique by watching and reviewing tapes from his earlier matches.