ST. LOUIS - Micah Burak wrestled up from his No. 11 seed at 197 pounds to earn seventh place at the 2012 NCAA Championships. He became Penn's 26th NCAA All-American in wrestling in the process, and the third at 197 pounds.
Burak's All-American finish is the third in three years for the Quakers and makes it 14 of the last 16 tournaments with at least one Penn All-American.
After a loss in the second round, Burak won three matches in row to earn his All-American honors. Following a loss in the consolation quarterfinals to No. 9 seed Alfonso Hernandez of Wyoming, Burak defeated frequent for No. 12 Joe Kennedy of Lehigh, 2-1, in a tiebreaker to claim seventh place. Burak improved to 4-2 all-time against Kennedy following the win, and 4-1 in matches decided by two points.
Micah rallied for the win, escaping 30 seconds into the third period to tie the match. Burak had a shot attempt in the waning seconds of regulation, but time ran out before he could finish on the edge of the mat. In sudden victory, Burak defended two Kennedy attempts, stuffing a single leg and then an inside trip attempt to force tiebreakers. Burak rode the first 30-second period, denying a Kennedy roll-through attempt. In the second period of tiebreakers, Burak escaped with 13 seconds remaining and went on to the win.
Burak finished his season with a 24-6 record and will enter the 2012-13 season as one of three All-Americans who will be returning to action.
The road to the podium was completed via a workmanlike Round of 12 bout from Burak. He connected on a single-leg at 1:51, finishing a sequence where he gained the leg and then dragged Nakashima back to the center before tripping down for the score. Nakashima was able to escape before the end of the opening period, but Burak answered with an escape of his own to start the second period. In the final period, Nakashima chose bottom, but Burak was able to put together a solid ride the majority of the frame, securing riding time via multiple returns. Nakashima escaped in the final five seconds, but Burak denied any late comeback attempts and joined Mike Fickell (2001 - fifth) and Andrei Rodzianko (199 - fourth) as 197-pound All-Americans for Penn.
In his consolation quarterfinal match, Burak came out on the tough end of a 2-1 decision to No. 9 Alfonso Hernandez of Wyoming. Burak rode tough on top for the first 1:11 of the second period, but Hernandez broke the scoreless tie with an escape. Along the way, Burak was called for stalling, a warning which played a big role in deciding the match when Burak was called for a second warning after dodging a half-shot from Hernandez in the third period. Burak was unable to score in the final minute, and moved to the seventh-palce match he was victorious in.
Burak started his day with a 4-2 win over Taylor Meeks of Oregon State. Burak broke a scoreless tie in the second period with an escape and a well-executed go-behind off a rolling sequence at the 4:02 mark. Burak rode the rest of the period to build a 3-0 lead at the end of two frames. In the third period, Burak was hit for a second stalling warning, giving a point to Meeks before the Oregon State wrestler escaped to close within one. Burak defended the rest of the period, added riding time and the 4-2 win.
Needing one more win to reach the Round of 12, Burak made quick work of unseeded A.J. Kissel of Purdue, pinning Kissel following a three-quarters nelson takedown at 0:48 of the first period.
Three Penn careers came to a close on Friday at the 2012 NCAA Championships, including two members of Penn's 100-win club. Zack Kemmerer extended his season early in the session with a 6-1 decision over Luke Vaith of Hofstra, scoring two takedowns and accumulating 3:17 of riding time to dominate a wrestler which had beaten him earlier in the season.
Kemmerer's run ended with a 4-1 loss to No. 8 Darius Little of N.C. State in the third round of wrestlebacks. The first period was scoreless, but Kemmerer was hit with a stalling warning in neutral while trying to decipher Little's constant head fakes. In the second period, Kemmerer escaped quickly, but a second stalling warning from neutral gave Little a point. The third period saw an escape for Little and a 2-1 lead. Kemmerer needed a takedown to win, and when looking for a last-ditch throw was tripped down and allowed a takedown which rendered the final score.
Kemmerer will graduate with 117 career wins - fourth all-time by a Penn wrestler - and as an NCAA All-American following his eighth place finish in 2011.
Bryan Ortenzio was edged in a tiebreaker by Army's Jordan Thome, 2-1, to close his tournament. The first two periods were scoreless, with Thome riding Ortenzio for the entire second period but picking up a stalling warning in the process. In the third period, Ortenzio went back under to try and gain an escape and was unable to do so. He was, however, able to draw a second stalling warning on Thome - a point which evened out Thome's riding time point at the end of regulation. Following a scoreless sudden victory period, Ortenzio was unable to escape in the first tiebreaker period. In the second thirty-second period, Ortenzio rode for 29 seconds before a scramble flurry was deemed to end in neutral position at the buzzer for the deciding point to Thome.
Ortenzio is the ninth Penn wrestler to achieve 100 wins in his career, and he will graduate with 105 career victories and as an EIWA Champion.
Senior Erich Smith wrestled his best matches of his career in his final two tournaments, going from unseeded at EIWAs to third place and a winner at NCAAs. His run came to an end, however, via a 4-3 decision to North Carolina's Thomas Ferguson in the wrestlebacks. Smith allowed an early takedown, but reversed to get back in the match. Ferguson escaped with six seconds remaining in the first period, taking a 3-2 lead to the second. Smith needed just ten seconds to escape and tie the match in the middle period, but an escape from Ferguson to start the third period matched that point and was the deciding point.
On Thursday, true freshman Steve Robertson wrestled two tough matches in his first trip to the NCAA Championships, but was on the losing end of two decisions. His first loss came to No. 8 Eric Grajales of Michigan, 3-0. Robertson had two good shot attempts to start the match, but couldn't score on Grajales who then scored on an escape and a late takedown in the second period. In his second match, Robertson was defeated, 3-2, by No. 9 David Habat of Edinboro. Robertson escaped in the third period to tie the match, but riding time favored Habat.
Penn will finish the tournament in 32nd place overall with 15.0 points.
133 - #12 Bryan Ortenzio
First Round: Lost to Zach Horan (Central Michigan), 5-4
Consolation Pigtail: Def. Geoffrey Alexander (Maryland), 8-2
Consolation First Round: Def. Ridge Kiley (Nebraska), 7-2
Consolation Second Round: Lost to Jordan Thome (Army), 2-1 (TB)
141 - Zack Kemmerer
Pigtail: Def. Evan Henderson (North Carolina), 7-2
First Round: Lost to #6 Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly), 5-1
Consolation First Round: Def. #11 Matt Mariarcher (American), 4-3
Consolation Second Round: Def. Luke Vaith (Hofstra), 6-1
Consolation Third Round: Lost to #8 Darius Little (N.C. State), 4-1
149 - Steve Robertson
First Round: Lost to #8 Eric Grajales (Michigan), 3-0
Consolation First Round: Lost to #9 David Habat (Edinboro), 3-2
184 - Erich Smith
First Round: Def. Kevin Radford (Arizona State), 6-4
Second Round: Lost to #1 Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming), 11-3
Consolation Second Round: Lost to Thomas Ferguson (North Carolina), 4-3
197 - #11 Micah Burak - Seventh Place
First Round: Def Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State), 5-3 (SV)
Second Round: Lost to #6 Brent Haynes (Missouri), 6-0
Consolation Second Round: Def. Taylor Meeks (Oregon State), 4-2
Consolation Third Round: Def. A.J. Kissel (Purdue) FALL 0:48
Round of 12: Def. James Nakashima (Nebraska), 4-2
Consolation Quarterfinals: Lost to #9 Alfonso Hernandez (Wyoming), 2-1
Seventh Place Match: Def. #12 Joe Kennedy (Lehigh), 2-1 (TB)
Download: Session 5 Brackets.pdf