Novachkov Advances to Title Match in NCAA Championships
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. -- Boris Novachkov will get a chance to avenge his only loss of the 2010-11 season.
The junior 141-pound wrestler also has an opportunity to become Cal Poly's first NCAA Division I national champion in 35 years.
Seeded third, Novachkov earned a 9-3 victory over second-seeded Michael Thorn of Minnesota in Friday's semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Division I National Championships at Wells Fargo Center.
Novachkov (31-1) will face top-seeded Kellen Russell of Michigan in the 141-pound championship final Saturday afternoon. Russell edged Montell Marion of Iowa on riding time after two tiebreakers. Russell also beat Zack Bailey of Oklahoma earlier in the day on the same tiebreaker.
Russell (37-0) defeated Novachkov 3-2 in the finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December, the only time the two wrestlers have met in their college careers.
"I'm going to give it my best and hopefully come out on top," Novachkov said of the rematch. "The match that he beat me, I felt that I wasn't as offensive as I should have been. And tomorrow, I'm just going to go out there and attack the whole match and try to put some points on the board."
Added Russell, "I think just like my semis, it's going to be a close match. We both know each other. We've been wrestling together since we were seniors in high school. So we both have drilled with each other and wrestled each other. We wrestled earlier this year. So I think it's going to be another close match like this, and hopefully there will be a bunch of scrambles."
Saturday's championship finals begin at 4:30 p.m. PDT and will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPNHD and ESPN3.com
Novachkov scored a takedown and led 2-1 after the first period. He earned an escape in the second period for a 3-1 advantage and, after giving up an escape to Thorn early in the third period, notched a takedown and three-point near fall to pull away. A 1-minute, 13-second advantage in riding time sealed the 9-3 decision.
Russell has four pins on the year and a 102-11 career record. In addition to his title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, the redshirt junior also placed first at the Southern Scuffle and the Eastern Michigan Open.
Russell placed seventh in the NCAA Championships as a sophomore in 2009 before redshirting the 2009-10 season. He is a three-time Big Ten Conference champion.
Novachkov shut out No. 6 Andrew Alton of Penn State 2-0 in a Friday morning quarterfinal-round match. There was no scoring in the first period. Novachkov rode out the second period and earned an escape 11 seconds into the final period. The junior also picked up the riding time point with a 1-minute, 49-second advantage.
Novachkov (pictured above), who won his first two matches Thursday by decision, will try to become Cal Poly's third Division I national champion. Tom Kline claimed the 191-pound title in 1969 while Mark DiGirolamo placed first at 118 pounds in 1976.
Six Mustangs have finished second -- Kline in 1968, John Woods in 1969, Cliff Hatch in 1975, Louie Montano in 1983, Chad Mendes in 2008 and Chase Pami in 2010.
Novachkov is the fourth Mustang in the last five years to reach the semifinal round. Mendes in 2008 and Pami in 2010 both finished as national runners-up while Darrell Vasquez settled for fifth place in 2007.
Asked if he has learned anything from former teammates Mendes and Pami, Novachkov said, "Yeah, Chase Pami, runner‑up last year. I like the way he went out and just attacked the whole match, but he had a little mistake in the first round, so that cost him the match. But I feel like as long as I attack and stay in good position and try to do the least amount of mistakes, I can win it."
Novachkov, who placed seventh at 133 pounds and earned NCAA All-American honors a year ago, earned a 6-1 decision over Buffalo sophomore Andrew Schutt, followed by a 4-2 decision over Matthew Bonson of Lock Haven on Thursday.
A three-time national qualifier and two-time Pac-10 champion, Novachkov owns an 87-18 career record at Cal Poly. A graduate of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, Novachkov went 4-2 in last year's nationals, with both losses decided in overtime. This year he won the Fullerton Open as well as the Midlands and placed second at the Las Vegas Invitational.
Mustang 157-pounder Barrett Abel, 165-pounder Ryan DesRoches and 197-pounder Ryan Smith all lost their opening-round matches Thursday afternoon and also were eliminated in the wrestleback matches Thursday night.
Cal Poly is tied for 30th place with 17 points in the team standings.
2011 NCAA Division I Championships
Results for Cal Poly Wrestlers
Boris Novachkov dec. Andrew Schutt (Buffalo) 6-1
Boris Novachkov dec. Matthew Bonson (Lock Haven) 4-2
Boris Novachkov dec. Andrew Alton (Penn State) 2-0
Boris Novachkov dec. Michael Thorn (Minnesota) 9-3
Boris Novachkov vs. Kellen Russell (Michigan) Saturday night
Barrett Abel was pinned by Johnny Greisheimer (Edinboro) 5:30
Barrett Abel was dec. by Kyle John (Maryland) 7-1 (Abel eliminated)
Ryan DesRoches was dec. by Andrew Howe (Wisconsin) 4-1
Ryan DesRoches was dec. by John-Martin Cannon (Buffalo) 8-6 (DesRoches eliminated)
Ryan Smith was dec. by Cam Simaz (Cornell) 6-2
Ryan Smith was pinned by Zachary Bennett (North Carolina) 2:32 (Smith eliminated)