PITTSBURGH –Junior Jack Mueller (Dallas, Texas) took a runner-up finish at 125 pounds at the 2019 NCAA Championships on Saturday night (March 23), becoming the fourth Virginia wrestler to finish as a runner-up in program history.
The fifth-seeded wrestler at 125 pounds, Mueller dropped a 5-0 decision to third-seeded Spencer Lee of Iowa in the finals. Lee was the defending NCAA Champion at 125 pounds and has now won back-to-back NCAA Championships for the Hawkeyes.
Mueller’s finish matches the runner-up finishes for Virginia by heavyweight Henry Jordan (1957), 125-pounder and current Virginia head coach Steve Garland (2000) and 141-pounder George DiCamillo (2017).
The loss was the only one of the season for Mueller who finished the year with a 21-1 record and an ACC Championship. He also earned All-America honors for the second time in his career, becoming only the third Virginia wrestler to earn multiple All-America honors. Other Virginia wrestlers to earn multiple All-America honors were Chris Henrich at 174 pounds (2009, 2010, 2011) and Nick Sulzer at 165 pounds (2013, 2014, 2015).
Mueller was also an All-American in the 2017 season when he became the first freshman wrestler to earn the distinction for Virginia. He finished sixth at the 2017 NCAA Championships in his first season with the Cavaliers.
Virginia finished 23rd in the overall team standings with 20.5 points. Penn State claimed the NCAA Championship with 137.5 points, while Ohio State (96.5), Oklahoma State (84.0), Iowa (76.0) and Michigan (62.5) round out the top five in the overall team standings.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Jack Mueller,” Garland said. “He really represented our University and our wrestling program, specifically, very well. I’m not just talking about his wrestling. I’m referring to the way he handled his words and his actions. He was a class act in every situation. That makes me so proud and we are blessed to coach him. I love the kid; we all do, so we hurt with him tonight. I believe God refines us through fire, and through this fire Jack will grow and be better for it. I trust and believe that.”
In the first period, Lee got a takedown of Mueller close to a minute into the match to take the 2-0 lead before riding out the period. Mueller started the second period in the top position, riding Lee for the duration of the period to erase the riding time advantage, but a point was awarded to Lee in the period when Mueller was called for stalling.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the final period, Mueller chose to start the third period neutral as he looked for a takedown. The defending NCAA Champion would manage to get one final takedown of Mueller with 14 seconds left in the match for the final 5-0 margin of victory.
No. 5 seed Jack Mueller
Rd 1:Mueller pinned No 28 seed Gage Curry (American), 1:27
Rd 2:Mueller major dec. No. 12 seed Michael McGee (Old Dominion), 13-3
Quarterfinals:Mueller dec. No. 4 seed Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State), 4-1 (TB-2)
Semifinals:Mueller dec. No. 1 seed Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern), 8-2
Finals:No. 3 seed Spencer Lee (Iowa) dec. Mueller, 5-0