Bernstein Secures All-American Status at NCAA Wrestling Championships
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Twelfth-seeded junior wrestler Ophir Bernstein (Allen, Texas) became the fourth All-American in Brown wrestling history and the first since Tivon Abel in 1998 when he went 1-2 in day two action at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday. Bernstein returns to action tomorrow to contend for seventh place in the 184-pound weight class when the medal round begins at 11 a.m.
Bernstein suffered a narrow 7-5 defeat to 13th-seeded Jack Dechow of Old Dominion in the 184-pound weight class quarterfinals to open the day. He then topped 10th-seeded Kenny Courts of Ohio State, 9-4, before falling to EIWA and Ivy League rival Lawrence Thomas of Penn, 8-5.
After picking up a 4-1 win over Zack Hernandez of Columbia and a 5-3 victory against Edinboro's Victor Avery yesterday, Bernstein could not overcome an early deficit against Dechow, who secured his second straight upset of a higher seed. Old Dominion's representative at 184 knocked off fourth-seeded Max Thomusseit of Pittsburgh in yesterday's second round.
Dechow launched ahead early with a one leg takedown and began building up riding time. After several resets, Bernstein finally stood up and broke the hands for the escape, but could not convert an elevated single before time ran out in the first period.
Bernstein stayed aggressive early in the second period only to have Dechow roll from the bottom into a reversal and extend his lead to 4-1. Brown's wrestler elevated his hips to escape a half nelson and make it 4-2 heading into the final period.
An early escape brought Bernstein with a point, 4-3, to open the third period, but Dechow countered a low shot with another takedown to take a 6-3 lead. A stalemate left Bernstein on bottom following a reset with 60 seconds remaining and Dechow cut him loose with riding time secured. It looked as though Dechow sealed the victory with a slick takedown on the edge of the circle but a video review revealed the wrestler to be out of bounds, giving Bernstein mere seconds to make a move.
Dechow circled as Bernstein fought for an angle and a pair of stalling calls left Bernstein just short as Old Dominion's wrestler emerged with the 7-5 decision.
Bernstein controlled his match against Courts from start to finish to attain All-American status by a 9-5 final score, earning three takedowns to Courts' one. The victory gives Bernstein 36 wins on the season, leaving him one shy of tying the Brown single season record set by Steve Thoma in 1991-92.
Against Thomas, who had bested Bernstein three times in regular season action, Brown's wrestler picked up an early takedown but quickly relinquished the lead on an escape and a Thomas takedown. The Penn grappler rolled Bernstein and just missed getting a near fall count on a cross wrist tilt, leaving the score at 3-2 in Thomas' favor after one period.
Bernstein started on top and worked in both boots for position but Thomas spun a reversal to move ahead 5-2. The lead shrunk when Bernstein opened the third period with an escape, only to have Thomas register another takedown when Bernstein missed low on an attempt single. Bernstein tossed Thomas for a reversal from bottom in the waning seconds to force a 7-5 score, falling just short as riding time awarded Thomas the final point.
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#13 Jack Dechow (Old Dominion) dec. #12 Ophir Bernstein (Brown), 7-5
#12 Ophir Bernstein (Brown) dec. #10 Kenny Courts (Ohio St.), 9-4
#11 Lawrence Thomas (Penn) dec. #12 Ophir Bernstein (Brown), 8-5