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Kjar Advances to Quarter Finals at NCAA Championships

PHILADELPHIA Utah Valley University senior Benjamin Kjar (125 pounds) became UVU's first-ever wrestler to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships after he went 2-0 on Thursday, which included a 2-1 upset over former All-American and the fourth-seeded James Nicholson from Old Dominion.

Fellow UVU senior Flint Ray (133) is also still alive after he wrestled his way to 1-1 record during day number one of the championships at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center. Senior 141-pounder Justin Morrill ended his first tournament run with on 0-2 record on Thursday.

Friday's quarterfinals will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. MT and will be broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. Kjar will be matched up against the No. 5 seed from Minnesota Zachary Sanders, who is a two-time All-American. Kjar is now just one win shy of becoming UVU's first-ever All-American.

"We're really excited about Ben and both of his wins," UVU head coach Greg Williams said. "His first win over Bonanno from Hofstra got him going and his win over Nicholson of Old Dominion was great as he was the No. 4 seed and undefeated this season. If he wins tomorrow in the quarters, he'll become an All-American."

After a scoreless first period between Kjar and Nicholson Thursday evening, Nicholson picked up an escape point in the second to go up 1-0. Kjar then took the lead with a takedown late in the period. In the third, Kjar held his ground and advanced to the quarters with the 2-1 win.

In Ray's second round matchup with the No. 7 seed from Illinois B.J. Futrell, Ray found himself on the wrong end of a 12-4 major decision. Ray stayed close with Futrell at the beginning as he was down just one at the end of one (2-1). In the second Futrell took command of the bout as he pulled ahead on the scoreboard after a takedown and nearfall. Futrell then added to the score in the third.

In a must win match for Morrill, Cornell's Hicks Manson took an early lead but Morrill battled back and got within 4-3 late in the third period. With Morrill looking for a takedown, Mason managed to pick up the takedown instead and also held riding time to win the bout 7-3. The loss ended Morrill's senior campaign in which he finished with a 23-11 record.

"Flint picked up a big win in his first match but in his second he really didn't look that sharp," Williams added. "He's got to be ready to go on Friday so that he can reach his goal."

Earlier in the day Kjar defeated Hofstra's Steve Bonanno by decision 5-2 and Ray continued the hot start for the Wolverines as he pulled out a 7-5 upset over the No. 10 seed from Penn Rollie Peterkin. Morrill dropped his first match to the two-time All-American and No. 4 seed Jimmy Kennedy from Illinois 9-3.

Day two of the NCAA Championships will begin Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. MT. You can watch Kjar in the quarterfinals live on ESPNU. The semifinals/session III will begin at 7 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MT and will also be broadcast on ESPNU.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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