Day two of the NCAA Championships brought the end of a season for an IU up-and-coming freshman. It also has a Hoosier veteran moving to day three in hopes of coming away with a third place finish in his second trip to the NCAA Championships.
Elijah Oliver, a freshman, saw his season come to close after losing a match to Alfredo Rodriguez (SIUE) 18-9. Oliver finished the NCAAs with a 1-2 record.
His teammate and friend, junior Nate Jackson, said he knows Oliver will come back strong next season.
"I see the fire in his eyes, and it hurts," Jackson said. "I almost shed a tear. But he has the right mind, and he's going to work. He got a little taste of it, and next year he's going all the way. Next year, he'll be giving back to all the guys that beat him."
Jackson said Oliver has a higher talent ceiling than he does and it is all about him putting in the work with him this offseason.
While Oliver’s season came to close, Jackson picked up a third straight major decision win to become a 2016 All-American and find himself in a semi final.
Although Jackson was only up 2-1 after the first period, he wound up winning 14-4, securing three takedowns and a two-point near-fall in the second and third period.
Jackson said he was blessed for his All-American status, but he was also ready for his rematch against No. 1 Bo Nickal who Jackson beat earlier in the season – Nickal's only loss this season.
"I want to thank God for the opportunity to showcase my ability in front of these fans, and there's no better place to do it than Madison Square Garden," Jackson said. "I haven't been looking at much film, and I've been wrestling my style. It came down to me finishing my shots, which I've done all year."
Just before the match, as always, Jackson knelt down and prayed “Lord, have your way.”
But unlike so many other times this season, Jackson lost. He dropped a close match 4-3 and will move into the consolation bracket.
Heading into tomorrow, Jackson will be in the consolation semifinals. If he wins that match, he will then have a spot in the third place bout.
Jackson won’t get a chance to wrestle for the title, but his NCAA Championships are far from over.