The Tiger quartet of Matthew Kolodzik, Mike D’Angelo, Jonathan Schleifer, and Patrick Brucki have been leaders for the Princeton wrestling team all season, so it’s only fitting that those four will serve as closers as well.
Kolodzik, a two-time EIWA champion and 2017 All-American, earned the 11th seed at 149, while EIWA runner-up D’Angelo earned the 16th seed at 157, for the 2018 NCAA Championships, which open Thursday at noon in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Both Schleifer, making a historic fourth trip to the NCAA Championships, and Brucki, who led the team in wins (27) as a freshman, will join the seeded duo for the national championships, which will be televised/streamed throughout the weekend on the ESPN Platform.
See the NCAA Championship brackets here.
Here is everything you need to know for the weekend, followed by both team and individual notes on the Princeton qualifiers.
WHERE: Quicken Loans Arena • Cleveland, Ohio
WHEN: March 15-17, 2018
COVERAGE: All sessions will be televised on one of the ESPN Networks, as well as streamed on WatchESPN. Follow @TigerWrestling on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend on when/what mats Princeton will compete on.
Session 1 – ESPNU: First Round • Thursday, 12 pm
Session 2 – ESPN: Second Round, Consolations • Thursday, 7 pm
Session 3 – ESPNU: Quarterfinals, Consolations • Friday, 11 am
Session 4 – ESPN: Semifinals, Consolations (All-American round) • Friday, 8 pm
Session 5 – ESPNU: Medal Round • Saturday, 11 am
Session 6 – ESPN2: Championship Finals, 8 pm
Go Fourth • Princeton brings four wrestlers to the 2018 NCAA Championships, each of whom qualified directly from the EIWA Championships. Matthew Kolodzik (24-6) is the 11th seed at 141, while Mike D’Angelo (22-8) is the 16th seed at 157. Both Jonathan Schleifer (165, 16-11) and Patrick Brucki (197, 27-8) enter the weekend unseeded.
Making History • Senior Jonathan Schleifer is the first Princeton wrestler to ever earn Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors (2015), the first to make a Midlands final (2015), and the first to make multiple Midlands finals (2017). He is now the first Princeton wrestler to compete at four NCAA Championships; nine other wrestlers in Princeton history made three NCAA Championships, including 2017 qualifiers Brett Harner and Jordan Laster.
Schleifer has the toughest opening-round match of any Princeton wrestler; he faces #3 Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State, the reigning NCAA champion at the weight. He is 6-10 against NCAA qualifiers this year, with a win over #15 Anthony Valencia at Midlands.
Captain America • Sophomore Matthew Kolodzik became the first Princeton freshman ever to earn All-America honors last year when he placed seventh at 141. The 11th-seed at 149, he will try to become the sixth multiple-time All-American for Princeton, and the first since Greg Parker (2002, 2003).
Streaking • Matthew Kolodzik enters the NCAA Championships having won 13 of 14 matches since Jan. 1, a stretch that includes a 13-6 decision over Binghamton’s Frank Garcia to win his second straight EIWA title. For the season, Kolodzik is 6-3 against NCAA qualifiers, including a win over 7th-seeded Ryan Deakin; all of his losses came in 2017 to Top-10 seeds (#5 Ke-shawn Hayes, #6 Justin Oliver, #10 Jason Tsirtis).
Sweet 16 • Junior Mike D’Angelo is making his second trip to NCAAs after reaching his first EIWA final and enters the 157-pound bracket as the 16th seed. He went 9-8 against the NCAA field, with wins over #10 Markus Scheidel and #14 Andrew Crone. D’Angelo was a remarkably consistent performer throughout the season; every one of his losses were to wrestlers who qualified for NCAAs.
Fresh Face • Freshman Patrick Brucki is making his first trip to the NCAA Championships after qualifying out of the EIWA after leading Princeton with 27 victories during his freshman year. Brucki reached as high as #12 on the InterMat rankings, and he went 6-8 against NCAA qualifiers this season, including a win over 7-seed Frank Mattiace. The freshman faced five of the top eight seeds this season, including each of the top three.
Three For All • Between winning the 1978 EIWA title and the 2016 EIWA Championships, Princeton never placed inside the top three at its conference meet. The Tigers have now done it two years in a row, as they followed a historic 2017 performance with another third-place finish at the 2018 Championships two weeks ago at Hofstra. Besides qualifying four wrestlers to the NCAAs, Princeton had eight placewinners at EIWAs, including seven wrestlers who return next season.
It’s Been A While • Princeton has had one individual NCAA champion in the 111-year history of the wrestling program; junior Bradley Glass ’53 won the unlimited title by official’s decision over Penn State’s Homar Barr. Trailing 2-1 entering the final period, the top-seeded Glass rode Barr the whole way to earn the tying point, and he earned the referee’s decision to win the title.
Looking For Number 11 • Princeton has had 10 wrestlers earn All-America honors at least once in their careers: Warren Taylor ’43 (1942); Bradley Glass ’53 (1951, 1952); Emil Deliere ’72 (1970, 1972); John Sefter ’78 (1977, 1978); Henry Milligan ’81 (1981); John Orr ’85 (1984, 1985); Dave Crisanti ’86 (1985); Greg Parker ’03 (2002, 2003); Brett Harner (2016); and Matthew Kolodzik (2017). Princeton has never had an All-American three straight years.
Facts And Figures Per Round • Princeton has had five NCAA finalists: Glass (1951), Deliere (1972), Sefter (1978), Orr (1984, 1985), and Parker (2002). During the Chris Ayres era, three Princeton wrestlers have reached the quarterfinals: Daniel Kolodzik (Matt’s older brother) fell to American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa in 2012; Harner fell to eventual NCAA champion J’den Cox of Missouri in 2016; and Kolodzik fell to Rutgers’ Anthony Ashnault last year.
I’m Honored • Head coach Chris Ayres, a 1998 All-American at 157 while wrestling for Lehigh, was named the EIWA Co-Coach of the Year after leading Princeton to its third-place finish at EIWAs last year. He was also named the Ivy League Head Coach of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. Now in his 12th season, Ayres has rebuilt the program from the ground up. He has finished third at back-to-back EIWAs only one decade after Princeton went 0-18 and didn’t field a 133-pound wrestler at the conference meet.
Kolodzik (24-5), who placed seventh at 141 to earn All-American honors as a freshman last year, claimed the 11th seed after defeating Binghamton’s Frank Garcia last Sunday to win the EIWA title. Kolodzik, who has won 13 of his last 14 matches, will open his weekend against Clarion’s Taylor Ortiz (26-10), a freshman who clinched the NCAA bid by making the EWL final. If seeds hold in the opening round, Kolodzik would face 2016 All-American and sixth-seeded Justin Oliver of Central Michigan (25-5).
D’Angelo, a junior captain making his second trip to the NCAA Championships, earned the 16th seed after going 22-8 on the season and reaching the final of the EIWA Championship. He will open up against Pittsburgh sophomore Taleb Rahmani (17-12), who will also be making his second trip to NCAAs. Rahmani received an at-large bid after finishing fourth at the ACC Championships, though he nearly pulled off a major upset during the weekend. Rahmani lost a 6-4 semifinal in sudden victory to N.C. State’s Hayden Hidlay, who earned the #1 seed at the NCAA Championships.
D’Angelo will be looking to keep the rematch from happening, as the winner of his opening-round match will likely see Hidlay in the Round of 16.
Schleifer made history this season by becoming the first Princeton wrestler to ever qualify for four NCAA Championships. If he can win his opener, he’ll make even more history. After clinching the spot with a 165-pound runner-up finish at the EIWA Championships, Schleifer (16-11) will face Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph (20-2), the reigning NCAA champion at 165 pounds.
Brucki (28-8) will try to match Kolodzik’s 2017 feat and become Princeton’s second freshman All-American, and he’ll try to start that journey against 16th-seeded Christian Brunner of Purdue (23-9). Brunner, who is making his second trip to the NCAA Championships, qualified with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. These two did not meet during the regular-season dual between Princeton and Purdue, as Brunner was out of the lineup.
If Brucki can knock off his seeded opponent, he would likely see top-seeded Kollin Moore of Ohio State in the second session. Moore defeated Brucki by a 14-1 major decision in a December dual meet between the two programs.