DES MOINES, Iowa — A 4-0 decision over The Citadel’s Undrakhbayer Khishignyam during Friday’s semifinals of the NCAA Championships propelled Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple into tonight’s 141-pound championship final bout.
“It’s not quite the match that I wanted, but you need to get it done no matter how it happens,” Maple said. “It will all be different tomorrow.”
Maple, seeded second, will have a shot to be the Sooners’ first NCAA champion grappler since 2005 if he can bring down No. 4 seed Mitchell Port of Edinboro. It wouldn’t be the first time the two have tangled.
“We wrestled earlier this year at Midlands,” Maple said. “It was a pretty tough match — and if I remember, we both scored pretty high. He’s going to come out battling — he’s a great kid. He’s a hard-nosed wrestler, and I’ve got to be the same tomorrow night.”
Cody Brewer stayed alive for the Sooners at 133 pounds, having worked his way through the wrestle-back brackets to set up a seventh-place match. The 14-4 major decision over Penn State’s Jordan Conaway that landed Brewer in the medal rounds also secured him All-America status along with Maple. Brewer will take on Missouri’s Nathan McCormick today.
Senior Bubby Graham just missed out on an All-America nod after dropping a 3-2 decision to Virginia’s Nicholas Sulzer in Friday’s consolation. Graham and Sulzer entered the third period tied at 2 points each, with Sulzer eliminating Graham with a single escape point in the third.
Earlier, it appeared that Graham added a takedown of his own in the second, but the ref never flashed the coveted two fingers to indicate the call. Oklahoma challenged the decision with a few seconds remaining on the clock to earn the potential lead, but it wasn’t overturned.
Maple’s semifinals match was also his tightest of the tournament. He opened the first period with a takedown, before adding an escape in the second and earning a bonus point for riding time in the third.
Brewer’s win came after building a 7-1 lead after the first period, and then adding a few more takedowns in the second to carry a 12-2 lead into the third. Brewer earlier won his wrestle-back quarterfinal match 105 over No. 5 seed Christopher Dardanes.
Today’s medal rounds begin at 10 a.m., while the championship finals will begin at 7 p.m.