DES MOINES, Iowa – The morning of Friday, March 22, 2013 was a historic one for Columbia’s Steve Santos, as he became just the fifth All-American in program history. Friday evening, Santos turned his attention to No. 1 Jordan Oliver from Oklahoma State with a shot at the NCAA Championship finals on the line.
Santos and Oliver, both seniors, had never faced each other in their collegiate careers prior to Friday’s semifinals. Oliver carried an unblemished 36-0 record into the bout, while Santos stood at 29-1 on the year.
Oliver came out gunning in the opening period, scoring his first points just 25 seconds in with a takedown. Santos was able to escape shortly after, but Oliver came right back with his second takedown of the first minute. The Cowboy added a two-point near fall with 1:39 remaining in the opening stanza to go up 6-1. During the final 60 seconds of the period, Oliver would produce two takedowns and Santos would tally two escape points to produce a 10-3 score.
The second period saw no scoring as Santos and Oliver looked to be wrestling on an even level. In the third period, Santos showed his resiliency with two good slams of Oliver looking to put the four-time All-American on his back, but came up just shy of breaking the plane. Oliver would quietly post four points in the final period to close out the major decision, 14-3.
“Steve’s goal now is to take third-place in the tournament and he’ll come back tomorrow and wrestle hard and hopefully achieve that goal,” said Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling Carl Fronhofer after the bout.
Up first Saturday for Santos will be Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi who advanced in the wrestleback bracket with an 8-5 decision over Virginia Tech’s Nick Brascetta. The win was Sakaguchi’s second of session four to bring the seventh-seed’s overall record up to 28-7. This will be the first collegiate meeting between Santos and Sakaguchi.
A victory over Sakaguchi would send Santos to the third-place bout where a victory would make him the highest finisher ever at an NCAA Championships for a Columbia student-athlete.
Live action will begin on ESPNU and WatchESPN.com (cable subscription required) Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Columbia’s previous All-Americans include: Matt Palmer (2005 & 2007: Eighth) Dave Galdi (1982: Eighth), Jerry Reid (1976: Sixth) and Bob Hartman (1951: Fourth).
The Wells Fargo Arena has been sold out for each session this week. Capacity at the downtown Des Moines Arena is 16,131.