Nine Unbelievable NCAA Wrestling Comebacks

9 amazing comebacks

Just because they were behind in the scorebooks, didn’t mean they had to lose. With time left on the clock, nine wrestlers chose to dig deeper and found a way to win.

1.    Rob Rohn (Lehigh) fall Josh Lambrecht (Oklahoma), 6:47

Down 14-3 in the third period, many watching the 2002 NCAA finals rightly believed that there wasn’t much more to Oklahoma’s Josh Lambrecht needed to do to win his first NCAA title. A brilliant top wrestler, Lambrecht already turned Rob Rohn of Lehigh three times and was working on the technical fall when the impossible happened.

Rohn, a muscle-bound wrestler known to utilize a cement-mixer better than any other wrestler in NCAA history, found himself in his favorite position — a front-head lock — with only 90 seconds left on the clock. Rohn tried to bully Lambrecht over, but as the Oklahoma wrestler defended hard, Rohn reacted and a roll-through to the opposite side, throwing Lambrecht to his back and eventually earning the fall with only 13 seconds left on clock.

More than any other comeback in NCAA wrestling history, Rob Rohn’s cement mixer proved the Bruce Lee quote that, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

2.    Lincoln McIlravy (Iowa) dec. Gerry Abas (Fresno State), 16-15

Gerry Abas was the heavy-favorite when he faced off against Iowa freshman Lincoln McIlravy in the 1993 finals at 142 pounds. The Fresno State wrestler started the match with four-straight takedowns, making the score 8-5 after the first period and 9-8 at the end of the second. With a quick escape it was 10-8 at the start of the third. Quick ankle pick by Abas made it 12-8, though riding from top cost him his first vital stall warning.

McIlravy responded and scored back-to-back takedowns before tying up the match on a stall point. With ten seconds left the freshman hit a duck-under to win 16-15 and his first of three NCAA titles

3.    Jayson Ness (Minnesota) dec. Daniel Dennis (Iowa), 6-4

Daniel Dennis was in control of his own destiny. With less than 20 seconds remaining, the Iowa wrestler lead Jayson Ness of Minnesota 4-2 and was doing a competent job of avoiding Ness’ takedown attempts.

But with only :12 on the clock Ness took several more shots and ended up landing a duck-under. Dennis tried to avoid the takedown, but instead of giving up the match-tying two-point takedown, the Iowa wrestler panicked and landed on his back, giving up two back points. The buzzer sound a moment later with Ness winning

4.    Mark Ironside (Iowa) v. Cary Kolat (Lock Haven), 9-8

The score was 6-3 with a 1:27 on the clock as the top two wrestlers faced each other at the 1996 NWCA All-Star Classic at 134 lbs. Both were undefeated and were the two most talked about wrestlers in the country.

Kolat, and his creative defense stymied Ironside early and had amassed his lead on counters, but in the third period everything changed. Ironside was ramping up his intensity as Kolat was fading, and the trick knee defense that had worked only minutes before failed the Lock Have wrestler late.

With 15 seconds remaining Ironside earned the final of his three takedowns to earn the 9-8 win, and recognition as one of the best comebacks in wrestling history.

5.    Jay Borschel (Iowa) dec. Chris Henrich (Virginia), 10-9

Down 8-2 at the end of the first period, eventual 2010 NCAA Champion Jay Borschel didn’t panic. The Hawkeye wrestler kept up the pressure for the last four minutes and fund the improbably 10-9 win.

6.    Doug Schwab (Iowa) dec. Chris Marshall (Central Michigan), 10-8

Chris Marshall was one of the best wrestlers in the country and early in his match with Doug Schwab the Central Michigan wrestler secured three early takedowns to enter the second period up 6-2.

Schwab pushed hard in the second, and in the third scored three takedowns in the last two periods and one in overtime to secure the 10-8 win and a trip to the NCAA finals.

7.    Mike Zadick (Iowa) dec. Jared Frayer (Oklahoma), 21-19

Frayer led Zadick 10-0 after the first period, and 11-0 after escaping early in the second period, but on one of the highest scoring matches in NCAA histoy Zadick battle back to an incredible, improbably 21-19 victory.

The match would rank higher except it was revealed soon after that Frayer had competed while very ill.

8. Damion Hahn (Minnesota) dec. John Trenge (Lehigh), 5-4

Losing 4-3 with 15 seconds left at the 2004 NCAA Championships, Minnesota’s Damion Hahn seemed to be out of contention to win his second NCAA title. Then, almost like Ness would do several years later, the New Jersey native threw a lateral drop, which didn’t work at first, but the resulting scramble gave the Minnesota wrestler Trenge’s back and with three seconds left he was able to earn the winning takedown and his second NCAA Championship.

9.    Montell Marion (Iowa) dec. Jimmy Kennedy (Illinois), 8-7

Jimmy Kennedy was winning 5-2 heading into the third period and with a ride time point the score was 6-2. With one minute he gets a stall point, then a snap down into a takedown, making it effectively 7-5. Kennedy was cruising until the very final second when Kennedy knowingly cedes over another stall call, but somehow gives up another snap down with no time remaining.

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