Saturday, March 17
Jack finishes sixth at NCAA tourney
CLEVELAND, Mach 17 – North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack (Danbury) finished sixth at 141 pounds at the NCAA Division I national championships on Saturday.
After a second round loss in OT on Thursday night, Jack (23-6) won four straight matches on Friday to get back into bronze medal contention.
But Jack lost to No. 4 seed Joey McKenna of Ohio State, 4-3 in the consolation semifinals and dropped a 9-7 loss in overtime to No. 8 seed Nick Lee of Penn State to finish sixth.
“This is not the way I wished to end my career but I never let a low point (determine) my character,” Jack said. “I’ve learned and grown more than I ever could have imagined the last four years here at N.C. State. I gave my heart out to this program and I will be forever thankful that I was given this amazing opportunity. I’m so proud of this team and the group of guys that I’ve spent the last four years with."
Jack trailed Lee 6-3 in the third period but finished with a flourish to force overtime. A two-point reversal cut Lee’s lead to one, 6-5. Jack let him go, giving him a point, and a 7-5 lead with 40 seconds left.
Jack secured a takedown with 11 seconds left in the third period to force overtime. Lee was quick and got a hand on Jack’s ankle trying for a takedown. Both wrestlers rolled around the mat looking for the advantage. With 22 seconds left in OT, Lee slipped out and behind Jack to secure the takedown and the victory.
McKenna, who eventually finished third, led 3-2 after one period over Jack thanks to a takedown and an escape. Another escape in the second period put McKenna ahead, 4-2.
In the third period, Jack escaped with 1:43 remaining but couldn't get a takedown for the win.
Jack finished his collegiate career with a record of 115-22, the second most victories in North Carolina State history and as a three-time All-American and two-time ACC champion. He is just the fifth wrestler in team history to earn All-American honors three times.
Jack is the first wrestler from Connecticut to earn All-American honors three times at the NCAA Division I national championships.
“It’s time to start the next part of my life and I can’t wait to help our younger guys accomplish their dreams like I was able to,” he said.
Friday, March 16
Kevin Jack earns All-American honors for third time
CLEVELAND, March 16 – One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is to go back out onto the mat into the consolation bracket after your dream of winning a championship has been dashed. There isn’t as much attention, the lights are little softer and the mats have more dust on them. And it can be an exhausting, grueling path.
But North Carolina State senior Kevin Jack (141) didn’t flinch. After dropping losing in overtime in the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament to Bucknell’s Tyler Smith, Jack went back to work.
Jack won four consecutive matches Friday, including a victory over Nebraska’s Chad Red in double overtime to earn All-American honors for the third time in his four-year career and move into the consolation semifinals with an eye on a bronze medal.
Jack, who graduated from Danbury, becomes just the fifth wrestler in Wolfpack history to earn All-American honors three times. He is the first wrestler from Connecticut to earn All-American honors three times at the NCAA Division I level.
“After my upset (Thursday to Smith), I told myself that I am not going to stop wrestling from any position,” he said. “I just want to keep wrestling and putting up points. If I do that, it will be hard for (opponents) to stay with me.”
Jack (23-4) began his day on Friday with an 8-0 win over Henry Pohlmeyer of South Dakota State (25-13). Takedowns in the second and third period carried Jack.
In the next round, Jack beat Pittsburgh’s Nick Zanetta, 4-0. An escape and takedown in the second period was the key. Jack earned another point with 2:29 of riding time.
The match with No. 7 Brock Zachri of Clarion was in what wrestlers call the blood round. A win earns you All-American honors and a loss leaves you going home with nothing.
Jack dominated with a 17-2 tech fall in seven minutes to earn All-American honors for the third time. Jack had three takedowns in the first period and two takedowns in the second period along with 3:37 of riding time. It was just third loss of the season for Zachri (29-3).
“I’m just ready to go,” Jack said. “I know I won’t get the gold medal I wanted but I will do the next best thing – wrestle for third place and help my team out.”
Against Red, Jack took a 1-0 lead with a second period escape while Red (25-11) tied the bout at 1-1 with an escape of his own in the third period.
The first one-minute overtime was scoreless. In the second OT session, Jack rode Red for 30 seconds. In the second 30-second period, Jack escaped with five seconds remaining for the 2-1 victory.
Jack will wrestle No. 4 seed Joey McKenna of Ohio State in Saturday’s consolation semifinals. He now has 115 career wins, No. 2 in North Carolina State history.
Thursday, March 15
Smith takedown in OT beats Jack
CLEVELAND, March 15 – Bucknell senior Tyler Smith got a takedown with 32 seconds left in overtime to bounce North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack of Danbury from the championship bracket of NCAA Division I wrestling tournament Thursday night, 6-4 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Smith (29-4) took advantage of a pause by Jack to swoop in and get a single leg takedown. He continued in put Jack on his side and secured the match-winning takedown. Smith, the No. 12 seed at 141 pounds, avenged a second round loss to Jack a year ago when Jack prevailed 4-0 in this same round.
Jack (19-4) falls into the consolation round with his second loss in three matches. He fell in overtime in the finals of the ACC Tournament a week ago.
He will face the winner of the consolation round match between Evan Cheek (24-10) of Cleveland State and Henry Pohlymeyer of South Dakota State. Jack faces the prospect of winning three consecutive matches to earn All-American honors for the third time.
Jack was the aggressor in the first two periods and led 3-1. He had nine takedown attempts on Smith but could only finish on his first takedown attempt for a 2-0 lead just 34 seconds into the bout. Stalemate was called five times in the first two periods.
In the third period, Smith escaped to cut the lead to one point, 3-2. On his second takedown attempt of the match, he got in quickly on Jack’s ankle and got a takedown with 1:30 left in the match for a 4-3 lead. Jack got away 15 seconds later to tie the match at 4-4.
Smith had a 3-1 edge in takedown attempts in the third period and overtime. Smith said that was part of the game plan – more takedown attempts in the later stages of the match. “We have great coaches and we had a game plan that we executed for every match,” he said.
Jack had a dominating performance in his first round match – a 10-0 victory over Russell Rohlfing of California State at Bakersfield. Jack had three takedowns in the match and a two point near fall. He also had a whopping 5:12 of riding time to secure another point.
It was his 14th career victory in the NCAA tournament. After the loss to Smith, Jack is 14-6 in four appearances in the tournament.
Jack opens NCAA Tournament Thursday
CLEVELAND, March 14 – Danbury senior Kevin Jack (141) of North Carolina State will hit the mat at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena. Jack, a two-time All-American, is seeking his first national championship.
But it won’t be easy. Two-time champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State is the No. 5 seed with a 23-5 record. The No. 1 seed is Jack’s former teammate at North Carolina State – Bryce Meredith (29-1) of Wyoming.
Jack, who was third a year ago a 141 and fifth at a freshman, is the No. 5 seed with a 18-3 record.
“It’s pretty humbling to know I can be up here and kind of speak at a press conference like this,” Meredith said. “The last two years I’ve been a 14 seed and a 10 seed. So coming in No. 1 is a little different for me. I’m excited for it though. Obviously it puts you in a little bit better bracket. If there’s a good place at the NCAA tournament. We all know it’s madness here. And that’s why we love this sport and that’s why we love this tournament so much.”
Jack beat the No. 5 and No. 4 seed to advance to the semifinals as a freshman and earn All-American honors. A year ago, Jack lost to Meredith, 6-5, in the quarterfinals before pinning Meredith in the consolation final to finish third.
Also in the bracket is Cornell rookie Yianni Diakomihalis (29-1), whose only loss came to Missouri’s Jaydin Eiderman (28-1), who handed Meredith his only loss of the season. Jack could face Diakomihalis in the quarterfinals if they both win their first two bouts.
The first session begins Thursday at noon. Jack takes on redshirt sophomore Russell Rohlfing of Cal-State Bakersfield (22-11) in the first round. The winner faces No. 12 Tyler Smith of Bucknell (27-4) or Virginia Tech’s Brent Moore (19-10).
Moore upset Jack in the ACC final in overtime to deny Jack a third straight league championship.
The second session on Thursday begins at 7 p.m. The tournament will be broadcast live on ESPNU from noon to 3:30 p.m. for the first round and on ESPN from 7 to 10:30 p.m. for the second round.
Jack is looking to become the first Connecticut wrestler to win a national championship since 1931 and the first three-time All-American at the Division I level from Connecticut.
The most recent three-time All-Americans from Connecticut are Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn of Nebraska-Kearney, a three-time Division II All-American from 2010-12 and Newington’s Chris Chorzepa of Williams, a three-time Division III All-American in 2014, 2015 and 2017.