March 20, 2008
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Sophomore Franklin Gomez began his first NCAA Championship with a pair of wins to advance to the Friday's 133-pound quarterfinals. Gomez began the day in the morning session at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. with a 12-4 major decision over Northern Iowa's Josh Baldridge and followed in the night session with a 6-5, 13-minute marathan win over Ohio State's Reece Humphrey in three sudden victory overtimes.
Gomez, the No. 1 seed, will next face No. 8-seed Mack Reiter of Minnesota in the quarterfinals. The Spartan won an earlier dual match victory over the Gopher, 7-4, in their only other meeting.
"For Franklin, tonight's match was one of those situations that makes you a champion," said head coach Tom Minkel. "Coming in, Humphrey was a style matchup problem as a lefty and the atmosphere was crazy for the overtimes. The crowd loves underdogs and tonight's huge crowd definitely backed Humphrey as the overtimes began. He handled the pressure extremely well, fighting off a couple situations that would have cost him the win."
After a scoreless first period with Humphrey, Gomez began the second period down. The Big Ten Champion escaped 21 seconds in and would score a takedown with 1:14 remaining, for a 3-0 lead after the first five minutes. A neutral start to the third saw Gomez keep control of the bout until a strong move by Humphrey took down Gomez for two takedown points and two near fall points with just 35 seconds remaining in regualtion. Humphrey's 4-3 lead held until a last second escape by Gomez brought the match into overtime.
The first sudden death overtime began with a scoreless minute after the pair started in a neutral position. They both rode out the two following 30 second overtime periods, to bring the bout to a second sudden death overtime. The second overtime was the same, leading to a third sudden victory stanza. The first neutral minute went scoreless and Gomez started the first 30 second section down. Gomez escaped four seconds in to open a 5-4 lead and keep Humphrey's riding time to four seconds. The final 30 seconds began with Humphrey down and Gomez kept him down for eight seconds, to take the riding time lead, before the Buckeye escaped to tie the bout at five. Neither wrestler could score another point, allowing Gomez to take the win, 6-5 with his four riding time points in the third overtime.
In his first bout of the championships, Gomez took control early with a takedown 20 seconds in and would let Baldridge escape soon after to bring the score to 2-1. Gomez would take Baldridge down again with 1:50 remaining in the opening period and garner three near fall points with just under a minute remaining to open up a 7-1 edge. A quick escape from Baldridge was immediately followed by Gomez' third takedown of the first three minutes at 45 seconds. Baldridge ended the period with an escape to bring the score to 9-3 after one.
The UNI wrestler deferred and Gomez chose down to start the second. Gomez took advantage with a reversal 35 second in to increase his lead to 11-3. They were the lone points in the second stanza, as Gomez continued to increase his riding time. The third period began with Baldridge down and his escape with 35 seconds remaining in the period resulted in the only point of the last two minutes. Gomez' 4:01 of riding time gave him the 12-4 victory.
The Friday's first session is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET.