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Northwestern freshman Tsirtsis beats Kindig to win 2014 NCAA 149 title

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The Cowboy couldn’t corral the Wildcat.

No. 5 seeded freshman Jason Tsirtsis of the Northwestern Wildcats defeated No. 11 Josh Kindig of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 3-1, SV1, to win the 149-pound title at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City Saturday night.

Of the ten finals matches wrestled Saturday night, the 149 bout owned the distinction of having the two highest-seeded wrestlers in the finals. In fact, Kindig’s eleventh seed was the highest seed in the finals since 2009.

With the win, Tsirtsis became the first NCAA champ for Northwestern since Dustin Fox won the heavyweight title at the 2008 NCAAs.

Tsirtsis became the second freshman to win a title at the 2014 NCAAs. Earlier that evening, Missouri’s true freshman J’Den Cox claimed the 197-pound title. (Note: Because the first match was at 174 pounds, the 197 bout took place before the 149 championship.)

Another aspect of the 149 title match’s timing: Kindig was one of four Oklahoma State finalists, and the third to step onto the mat. (Alex Dieringer was next up, at 157.) When Kindig lost, the Cowboys were mathematically eliminated from the chance to win the team title, no matter what Dieringer did in his match. (He won the 157 title.) That made the team title battle a two-team fight between Penn State and Minnesota, which the Nittany Lions eventually won.

How Tsirtsis (32-5 season record) got to the finals: Rd. 1: dec. unseeded Bryce Busler (Bloomsburg), 4-1; Rd. 2: dec. unseeded James English (Penn State), 4-3; Qtrfinals: dec. No. 4 Kendric Maple, 2-1, TB1; Semifinals: dec. No. 1 Drake Houdashelt (Missouri), 2-1, TB1.

How Kindig (24-9 season record) got to the finals: Rd. 1: dec. unseeded Ian Paddock (Kent State), 9-4; Rd. 2: dec. No. 6 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska), 7-5; Qtrfinals: dec. No. 11 Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon State), 7-5; Semifinals: dec. No. 15 Mitchell Minotti (Lehigh), 5-2.

Finals action:

  • 1st Period: No scoring.
  • 2nd Period: Kindig chooses down, gets an escape at 1:10 of the period. No other scoring. 1-0 Kindig.
  • 3rd Period: Tsirtsis takes down, escapes. No other scoring. Match ends in regulation tied 1-1, sending the bout into overtime.
  • Sudden Victory: Tsirtsis scores a takedown within the 30-second period, immediately ending the match… with the Northwestern freshman getting the 3-1 win, and the 149-pound title.

Quotes from the champ:

  • On winning the title: I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m an NCAA champ. I get to keep that claim for the rest of my life… I went out there, I was confident, and I wasn’t worried about getting in the NCAA finals.”
  • On overtime: “I felt like I was a little timid in the beginning. I know Oklahoma State is dangerous with their outside offense in general. So I was trying to neutralize that and get to my ties in my offense. Wasn’t quite clicking. Then towards the end of that period, I just kind of got a good flow going where I knew what to do to get to my offense. And it finally clicked.”
  • Explaining how you and J’Den Cox won titles as freshmen: “I think has to do with previous college wrestlers giving back. Those guys are running elite freestyle youth clubs or coaching high schools. Those things benefit kids because they’re getting top-notch technique and mentoring as a 15, 16, 17, 18-year-old, so they’re ready to jump in and make a big impact on this level."

2014 NCAA All-Americans – 141 pounds

  1. Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern)
  2. Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State)
  3. Eric Grajales (Michigan)
  4. David Habat (Edinboro)
  5. Drake Houdashelt (Missouri)
  6. Mitch Minotti (Lehigh)
  7. James English (Penn State)
  8. Kendric Maple (Oklahoma)

Take a look back: For all College Wrestling Examiner articles on the 2014 NCAAs, click here... and check out Mat Bracketology, College Wrestling Examiner's weight-by-weight analysis of seeded wrestlers, by clicking on the Mat Bracketology link.

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