Tulsa, Okla., – Keith Gavin is also sometimes surprised by how difficult it can be to pin down Cole Matthews.
The 141-pound third seed in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships showed that potential in the second round on Thursday night as he earned a tight 1-0 victory. He will be joined by teammate Nino Bonaccorsi, who is the top seed at 197, in the quarterfinal round on Friday morning.
“That was wild,” Gavin said of the win over Cal Happel, in which Matthews fought off a pair of deep leg strikes. “For a one-point match, it got crazy in the third period. But, he’s a really good competitor. He’s probably going to see that tomorrow as well.
Mathews will face sixth-seeded Beau Bartlett of Penn State on Friday.
Happel essentially chose to spend the entire match on his feet. After a scoreless first period, he took neutral in the second, then issued a second to Matthews in the third.
Matthews said, “I think their plan was to tire me out and take me down once, but if you don’t choose the down on me, you’ll actually have to take me down twice.” The second escape ties the bout.
Gavin said Mathews’ ability to stay calm is a big reason he’s inching closer to a second consecutive All-American performance.
Gavin said, “He never panics.” “It’s a trait he had, but he’s matured a lot since being here and growing up a bit.”
Mathews certainly didn’t panic in the third when Hapel looked to be in the deep on a double-leg but Mathews somehow avoided giving up the takedown.
“It was deep enough, but whether you’re that deep on me or just trying to beat me in hand-to-hand combat, I’m not going to stop wrestling from those positions,” he said.
Matthews defeated Clarion’s Seth Coleno 4–1 in the first round. He said that in a national tournament, matches are needed to adjust to everything.
“After the third period of the first match, your legs get a little shaky and your stomach starts rumbling a little bit, but when you get over that first match, you feel great,” he said.
While Mathews wrestled through the low-scoring close matches that have become his trademark, Bonaccorsi held on to his strength as well, scoring a combined 17 points in his two wins.
“That’s how I wrestle, when I wrestle, I can score points and I can score on anybody and beat anybody,” the top seed said. “I think that’s what you see, I’m open and trying to wrestle my match. When I get in my groove, no one can beat me.
Gavin was impressed by Bonaccorsi’s 10–1 victory over North Carolina’s Max Shaw and his 7–1 win over North Dakota State’s Owen Pentz.
Gavin said, “He wrestled really well today.” “Obviously, it gets tougher tomorrow. I thought he completed the shots very well. He’s moving guys, his handfight is looking good. He looks good.”
Bonaccorsi will face Big Ten champion Silas Allred of Nebraska in the quarterfinal round. Allred defeated reigning national champion Max Dean of Penn State for the second time in three weeks.
Mickey Filippi, Holden Heller and Reece Heller each went 1-1 on the day. Filippi beat Wyatt Henson of Oklahoma in the first round and lost to Aaron Nagao of Minnesota in the evening session. Filippi will face Iowa’s Brody Teske in the consolation round on Friday.
Holden Heller defeated Penn State’s Alex Facundo in the first round but lost 5–3 to Michigan State’s Caleb Fish in the second round. He will take on Peyton Hall of West Virginia on Friday.
Reece Heller was pinned by Lehigh’s Tate Samuelson in a first round match that he probably could have won, but rebounded to knock off WVU’s Anthony Carman in the consolation bracket. Brian Soldano of Rutgers awaits in a consolation bout that should see a lot of scoring.
Gavin said, “We have a lot of work to do tomorrow.” It’s going to be challenging, but we’ll be up for it.”
Luca Augustine lost in close bouts at 174 pounds and was knocked out.