NEW YORK - The 2013 NCAA Championships will get underway in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, March 21 with five Columbia wrestlers taking the mats on the largest stage. Matt Bystol (133), Steve Santos (149), Jake O'Hara (157), Josh Houldsworth (165) and Stephen West (174) will all be in action representing the Columbia blue and white.
For updates on the action in Des Moines, follow Columbia Athletics on twitter @GoColumbiaLions and instagram @GoColumbiaLions.
The three-day event held at the Wells Fargo Arena will feature two sessions each day, running from Thursday, March 21 - Saturday, March 23.
Thursday, March 21 - All start times are EST
Session 1: Noon - Pigtails and First Round
Session 2: 7:30 p.m. - Preliminaries: Wrestleback Prelims, Wrestleback First Round; Championship Round: Second Round, Consolation Round
Friday, March 22
Session 3: 11 a.m. - Quarterfinals and Wrestlebacks
Session 4: 7 p.m. - Semifinals and Wrestlebacks
Saturday, March 23
Session 5: 11 a.m. Wrestleback Semifinals and 3rd-8th Medal Rounds
Session 6: 8 p.m. Finals and Awards Ceremony
ESPN will provide live coverage of each session via ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN3 and WatchESPN. The first, second and quarterfinals rounds will be shown on ESPN3, using a four-screen, four mat viewing experience. Coverage on ESPNU will feature two quarterfinals and the semifinals using a side-by-side format to allow viewers to catch the action in two matches at the same time. Saturday's finals at 8 p.m. will be shown on ESPN with the referees wearing microphones to give fans more access. Shawn Kenney and Jim Gibbons will provide analysis of the first two sessions, while a combination of Kenney, Adam Amin, Tim Johnson, Anthony Robles and Quint Kessinich will handle the analyst and play-by-play duties Friday and Saturday.
With five wrestlers competing in this season's NCAA Championships, Columbia has matched its program record set in 2005. Bystol, Santos, O'Hara and Houldsworth each garnered automatic bids during Columbia historic EIWA Championships performance, while West was awarded an at-large bid by the NCAA last Wednesday. Santos, at 26-1 in collegiate competition this season, was also selected as the fifth seed in the 149-pound bracket.
133 - Matt Bystol (9-10) vs. No. 8 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma, 21-5)
Following his runner-up showing at the EIWA Championships, Bystol will take on the eighth-seeded Cody Brewer from Oklahoma in the opening round of his first NCAA Championships. Bystol turned his season around over the last six weeks when he dropped down to 133 pounds after competing at 141 pounds during the first two months. The Libertyville, Ill. native is 6-2 at 133 pounds with wins over Rutgers Vincent Dellafave, the top seed at the EIWAs, as well as Army's Jordan Thome. Against NCAA qualifiers, Bystol is 1-1, downing Dellafave, but losing in the EIWA finals to Lehigh's Randy Cruz.
Brewer is also making his first trip to the NCAA Championships after finishing second at the Big 12 Championships to Oklahoma State's Jon Morrison who is the seventh seed this weekend. In eight matches against tournament qualifiers this season, Brewer is 5-3.
149 - No. 5 Steve Santos (26-1) vs. Alex Hudson (Chattanooga, 15-5)
Santos, the 19th EIWA champion in Columbia wrestling history, has lost just once this season against intercollegiate competition and will be making his second appearance at the NCAA Championships. The senior co-captain is 6-1 against NCAA qualifiers this season including a win over 12th-seed Eric Grajales from Michigan at the Midlands Championships. A rematch between Santos and Grajales is a possible second round matchup if Santos can defeat Hudson and Grajales can get past Iowa State's Max Mayfield.
Hudson enters the weekend having won his last 11 bouts, including his most recent three to capture the SoCon title at 149 pounds. After redshirting last season, Hudson posted his best season with the Mocs to earn his first selection to the NCAA Championships. He has faced just one tournament qualifier this season, falling to Virginia's Derek Valenti back in November.
157 - Jake O'Hara (18-5) vs. No. 8 Dylan Alton (Penn State, 24-6)
O'Hara is making his second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after claiming fourth at the EIWAs. Also a senior co-captain, O'Hara has wrestled against NCAA qualifiers 10 times this season, compiling a 4-6 record. The bout between O'Hara and Alton will represent the pigtail matchup of the 157-pound bracket, with the winner moving into the first round to face Pittsburgh's Donnie Tasser.
Alton returns to the NCAA Championships as the eighth seed after finishing third at last year's tournament as a freshman, garnering All-America honors. Alton, who finished sixth at the Big 10 Championships, racked up nine falls this season. Against NCAA qualifiers, Alton is 7-3 this season.
Thursday's pigtail match will be a rematch of last year's NCAA Championship first round matchup between O'Hara and Alton. Alton, ranked seventh at last year's Championships, won the match by major decision, 12-4.
165 - Josh Houldsworth (20-7) vs. No. 11 Cody Yohn (Minnesota, 24-11)
Houldsworth moved up to 165 pounds this season and it paid dividends as he posted his first 20-win season as a Lion. The junior is making his first appearance at the NCAA Championships after finishing second at the EIWAs to the top-ranked wrestler in the nation, Kyle Dake of Cornell. In five matches against NCAA qualifiers, Houldsworth is 1-4 with a win over Rutgers' Nicholas Visicaro in the EIWA semifinals.
Yohn is making his fourth consecutive NCAA Championships appearance after notching 20+ wins for Minnesota for the fourth season. Yohn claimed third at the Big 10 Championships, taking down Purdue's Brandon Nelson, 6-1.
174 - Stephen West (23-7, at-large) vs. Jonathan Fausey (Virginia, 29-8)
The back-to-back All-Ivy League first team selection, West received an at-large bid at 174 pounds thanks to a 23-7 overall record this season. West led the Lions this season with seven falls, while also winning two matches via major decision and another by technical fall. The senior co-captain is 2-3 this season against NCAA qualifiers.
Although this is his first year qualifying at 174 pounds, Fausey is making his third appearance at the NCAA Championships, after previously competing at 184 pounds. Against NCAA qualifiers this season, Fausey is 3-3.