March 16, 2007
AUBURN HILLS, Calif. -
Senior 141-pounder Derek Moore took one step closer to the ultimate goal of becoming a national champion as he defeated No. 3 seed Nathan Morgan of Oklahoma State, 6-2, live on ESPNU in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in front of 14,745 fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night to become the first UC Davis wrestler to ever compete for a national championship.
With the win, Moore ups his season win total to a perfect 23-0 and adds seven more points to the Aggies' school-record total of 23.5, which puts them 25th overall. Iowa State claimed the overall lead from Minnesota with 83.5 points.
"To come through all those injuries and come back like this and advance to the finals is a dream come true," said Moore. "Being in the finals is unbelievable... it still hasn't hit me yet. It would mean the world to me and my team if I could pull off the upset tomorrow."
Morgan jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period with a takedown, but Moore quickly reversed him to tie the match at the end of the period. Following a scoreless second period, Moore started from the bottom in the final period and scored a quick escape to go up by one. Another takedown from Moore in the final minutes of the match and over a minute of riding time gave him the historic victory.
"It's a great feeling and I'm really happy that his career has culminated in a finals appearance," said head coach Lennie Zalesky. "I think Derek's gained a lot of fans out here and he's got a good chance tomorrow."
"The win also puts UC Davis wrestling in the top 20 nationally," continued Zalesky. "It shows everybody that we have a solid program and that we can compete against anybody."
Moore, who became the first Aggie wrestler to earn All-America honors earlier in the day with a 10-4 victory over Michael Keefe of Tennessee-Chattanooga, will face No. 1 seed Ryan Lang of Northwestern tomorrow night in the finals. Lang is also undefeated with 29 wins. The match will be televised live on ESPN. The finals of the NCAA Championships will begin at 5:00 p.m PST.
NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Semifinals
Palace of Auburn Hills, March 16, 2007
Derek Moore (141) - wins dec. Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State), 6-2