Smith, Jillard Advance to Day Two of NCAA Championships

GO HUSKIES Rob Jillard coasted to a 9-2 win over Rutgers' Ken Theobold Thursday night
Rob Jillard coasted to a 9-2 win over Rutgers' Ken Theobold Thursday night

March 20, 2014

2014 NCAA Championships Brackets - Through Session II Get Acrobat Reader | | ESPN3

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Northern Illinois University wrestling team bounced back from a rough start Thursday in Oklahoma City, Okla., as Nick Smith (Ida, Mich./Ida) and Rob Jillard (Franklinville, N.J./Delsea Regional) each scored decisive wins in the consolation bracket.
Smith stay alive in the tournament with a second-period pin of Maryland's Tyler Goodwin, while Jillard earned a 9-2 decision over Rutgers' Ken Theobold.
"(The wins) were very important," said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. "It showed character and the desire to dig deep into this tournament. It's tough coming off a championship round loss and, to gather themselves up and compete as hard as they did, it showed a lot of courage and character."
Smith came out firing against Goodwin, scoring a takedown a minute into the match. From there, the Huskie blew open the match with three nearfall points to end the first period with a 5-1 lead. Smith kept the pressure on his opponent with a reversal to open the second period, then broke double-digits with three more nearfall points. After coming close to sticking Goodwin multiple times earlier in the match, Smith finally pinned the Terrapin to stay alive in the tournament.
Moments later, Jillard scored a resounding win against Theobold. After getting a quick takedown, the Franklinville, N.J., native scored two nearfall points to push his lead to 4-0 lead after one. Jillard repeated that in the second period, as another takedown and two-point nearfall combo put the Huskie ahead, 8-0. Despite surrendering a reversal early in the third period, Jillard hung on for the win.
The action continues tomorrow in Oklahoma City beginning at 10 a.m. Nick Smith's day begins with a matchup against 10th-seeded Nick Soto of Chattanooga. For Jillard, he will face #8 Dave Habat of Edinboro in a rematch from this year's Midlands Championships.
"There's not a match in the championship side of the bracket or the consolation side of the bracket where you're not going to run into a stud," Ludwig said concerning tomorrow's bouts. "Tomorrow's matches are extremely challenging, as well.
"They're the only ones in front of us now and that's all that matters."
Session I Recap
Smith and Jillard opened the tournament with losses, as Smith dropped a 6-3 decision to #8 David Thorn of Minnesota and Jillard fell in a 7-4 loss to #7 Gus Sako of Virginia.
Smith matched Thorn’s intensity to start the match by nearly landing a takedown against his nationally-ranked opponent within the first 20 seconds, then thwarting the Golden Gopher’s takedown attempt to end the first period scoreless. However, Thorn got on the board with an escape followed by a takedown. The Huskie senior countered with a pair of escapes to get within 3-2 early in the third, but a takedown and the riding time bonus allowed Thorn to escape.
Meanwhile, Jillard fell into an early hole against Sako, as the Cavalier scored four points on a pair of takedowns to put the Huskie 149-pounder in a 4-2 hole after one period. The NIU senior, though, got to within one by scoring on an escape to end the second period, but another Sako takedown early in the third period all but sealed Jillard's fate in the opening round.
NIU’s Thursday Results
133 – Nick Smith
Round 1: #8 David Thorn (Minnesota) dec. Nick Smith (NIU), 6-3
Conso. Round 1: Nick Smith (NIU) pins Tyler Goodwin (Maryland), 4:31
149 – Rob Jillard
Round 1: #7 Gus Sako (Virginia) dec. Rob Jillard (NIU), 7-4
Conso. Round 1: Rob Jillard (NIU) dec. Ken Theobold (Rutgers), 9-2



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