The Northern State senior claimed a pair of victories on the first day of the event, defeating Nick Bauman of Nebraska-Kearney 4-0 and getting a 6-0 win in the quarterfinals over Kevin Christman of Tiffin (Ohio) University. NSU sophomore Anthony Bruno bounced back from a first-round loss in the 125-pound division to win his first consolation match, but lost his second consolation match to be eliminated.
“Matt was pretty dominant today,” said a happy NSU coach Pat Timm. “He didn’t get a point scored on him. He wrestled solid and did what he needed to do to get wins.”
Meuleners, making his fourth trip to the national tourney, is a veteran who knows what to expect, Timm said.
“He’s been here before, and there’s not anything different,” Timm said. “He is right on track and just has to wrestle the way he has been.”
Meuleners will face Orlando Scales of Notre Dame (Ohio) in today’s semifinal match. While Timm said they watched Scales wrestle, Meuleners has to concentrate on his own task.
“We watched (Scales) wrestle and know what he does,” Timm said. “The bottom line is we can’t worry about what he’s going to do. In the long run, we have to be on our game with what we have to do.”
Meuleners carries a 35-4 record into today’s action while Scales is 15-1. Semifinals will start at 10 a.m. and championship matches are slated to begin at 6 p.m.
A much-anticipated rematch with St. Cloud State’s Jake Kahnke will not happen, as Kahnke, who has lost to Meuleners in the past two national championship matches, lost in the semifinals to Ziad Haddad of Kutztown (Pa.) State.
Bruno dropped a 9-1 decision to Gerald Huff of Adams State (Colo.) in the opening round and battled back for a 5-2 victory over Ben Sargent of Findlay (Ohio). Bruno was eliminated with a 9-1 loss to Willie Bohnice of Mercyhurst (Pa.). Bruno, making his first trip to nationals, wrestled in front of friends and family as he is from Madison, Ala., which is less than 100 miles from Birmingham.
“Anthony wrestled a little up and down today,” said Timm. “In his first match, he was a little nervous. The second match, he wrestled extremely well, and his last match, he didn‘t come up with enough to get a win.”
Timm said the experience of the national tournament was a valuable one for Bruno, who finished the season with a 25-20 record.
“Hopefully, he can build on this experience and get motivated for next year,” Timm said.