Woodley Earns All-America Status

Saturday, 20 March 2021 17:42

Woodley Earns All-America Status

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Photo by Joshua Gately Photo by Joshua Gately OU Athletics Communications

OU Athletics Communications Press Release

ST. LOUIS – Jake Woodley became Oklahoma's 277th All-American on Friday in St. Louis when he defeated No. 15 Michael Beard of Penn State 8-3 to punch his ticket into the national semifinal at 197 pounds. The Oklahoma redshirt junior is the lowest-seeded wrestler ever to make the semifinal and is the fourth All-American of the Lou Rosselli era.

The Sooners entered the day with four wrestlers still alive in the bracket, Woodley on the front side and Demas, Moore and Heindselman on the back. By Friday's end, only Woodley remained still wrestling as the other three fell in Friday's sessions at the Enterprise Center.

"Overall, I'm just so proud of Jake Woodley," Rosselli said. "To come here seeded what he was and make the semifinals and become an All-American is a testament to the type of fight he has. He is a pro who brings toughness and grit to our wrestling room, and that's important to have whenever you're building a program."

Woodley matched up with Beard in the morning session, dominating the Nittany Lion with a trio of takedowns, paired with an escape and riding-time point. The 8-3 decision turned the Pittsburgh product into an All-American, ensuring a top-eight finish. But Woodley's magical run came to an end in the semifinal, when he was bested by No. 6 Nino Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh, 4-1.

"Jake beat some really talented guys this weekend, and wrestled really well but came up just short in that last match," Rosselli said. "He'll need to come ready to wrestle hard tomorrow morning against another really good opponent, and he'll be ready because I know that placing third means a lot to him."

Woodley will face off against Iowa's Jacob Warner, who is the fifth seed. The last time the two All-Americans met, Woodley defeated Warner 6-4 to win the U23 92 kg national championship in 2020.

Dom Demas fought his way into the blood rounds on Friday night with wins over No. 27 Angelo Martinoni (CSUB) and No. 30 Dylan D'Emilio (OHST) in the morning session. On Friday night, Demas squared up with No. 10 Zach Sherman, with the winner earning All-America honors, but came up short in the first tiebreaker after he couldn't escape from Sherman, dropping the match 2-1. Demas concludes his season as Big 12 champion, and with a 15-2 record, his only two losses came in overtime.

"It's obviously disappointing for Dom because I know he didn't meet his expectations," Rosselli said. "But if he can use this feeling of being left out and missing his goals, and build on that to be more aggressive then he'll get to where he wants to be next season."

Mitch Moore created fireworks in the morning session, pinning No. 14 Michael Blockhus (MINN) in his first match and then upsetting No. 11 KanenStorr in sudden victory later that morning. His strong performance on the mat early in the day placed him one win away from becoming an All-American for the first time. In his evening bout with No. 25 Yahya Thomas of Northwestern, Moore tried to get Thomas onto his back, but the Wildcat wouldn't go, knocking off Moore 3-1. The junior's season ends with a 12-5 record and as Big 12 runner-up.

"Mitch is just a tough, tough kid that really helps our room out," Rosselli said. "Having guys like Mitch is critical to building a program because he comes to practice and doesn't complain, helps other guys and makes your whole room tougher. We're lucky to have him moving forward."

Josh Heindselman was the fourth Sooner wrestler still competing on Friday. He lost his consolation match to No. 14 Brian Andrews of Wyoming, eliminating the redshirt freshman from his first-ever championship. The Piedmont, Okla., product concluded his year with a 10-7 record, with six of those losses coming to heavyweights that wrestled in the blood rounds on Friday night.

As a team, the Sooners moved up the leaderboard quickly on Friday, jumping 10 spots to 23rd. If Oklahoma's placement holds, it will mark the team's best NCAA finish under Rosselli, besting its 2019 output of 25th.

Woodley returns to the mat on Saturday morning at 10:00 in the consolation semifinal, followed by either the third or fifth-place match in the same session. He'll take part in the Parade of All-Americans at 5:30 p.m.

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