Freshman Bill Walsh of Cleveland State must have wondered if yesterday's hail storm was aimed specifically at him, the way everything was going wrong in his first visit to the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Walsh lost his gym bag, containing shoes, uniform and other equipment. Then his first match in the tournament turned out to be against the No. 1 seed in the 134-pound class, Lee Roy Smith of Oklahoma State.
The day eventually brightened because Walsh defeated Smith, 11-7, in the biggest upset on the opening program of the three-day competition at College Park.
Another surprise loser was Kenny Nelson, third-seeded 126-pounder from Oklahoma whose photo graces the cover of the NCAA Wrestling Guide. NCAA guides match Sports Illustrated for jinx potential and Columbia's Jerry Reid took full advantage with a 6-5 shocker that left Stan Abel, coach of the Sooners, complaining about the officiating.
The only other wrestler seeded among the top four to fall on the first card was fourth-ranked Al Marzano of Northwestern, a 10-1 victim of Northern lowa's Kirk Myers at 190 pounds.
Iowa's full contingent was reduced by only one as 187 matches over six hours trimmed the championship bracket from 347 to 160, sixteen in each weight class. The lone member of the favored Hawkeyes to go out was Bud Palmer, an 8-2 victim of seventh-seeded Dan Severen, Arizona State, at 190.
Defending champion Iowa State, the other principal contender for team honors, saw its representation sliced from eight to six. Heavyweight Tom Waldon was pinned in 1:44 by Notre Dame linebacker Bob Golic and Mark Warner, 134, was an 8-2 loser to the Atlantic Coast Conference's outstanding wrestler, Steve Silverberg of Virginia.
Oklahoma State also was cut from eight to six. 118-pounder Kevin Nellis dropping a 9-7 verdict to Tom Goodwin of Washington State and joining Smith in the consolation bracket.
Wisconsin, the only team besides Iowa to qualify a full 10 men, lost four; hopeful Oregon State saw four of its seven beaten.
Only Silverberg and Navy's 158 pounder, Brian Rodgers, survived among area representatives, as some difficult pairing speeded the exit of Virginia, Maryland and Navy qualifiers. Rodgers won big, crushing Gilden McColm of Illinois State, 14-0
Navy's Larry Kihlstadius, 142, and paul Supchak, 150, departed within two minutes each other. Kihlstadius lost 13-7, to Dennis Brighton of Michigan State, last year's runner-up at 134 pounds. Supchak, starting later on an adjacent mat, was dispatched in 2:49 by defending champion Mark Churella of Michigan, losing so quickly that Coach Ed Peery did not have time to leave Kihlstadius and sit in Supchak's corner.
Navy heavyweight Nick Mygas, outweighed by 75 pounds, lasted 7:43 before yielding to jerry Anderson of Drake.
Maryland's Kevin Colabucci, ACC champion at 167, fell behind 7-1 to topseeded Paul Martin of Oklahoma States as he was almost pinned in the first period. He wound up a 13-3 loser. The host Terrapins' other qualifier, heavyweight Bob Tunstall, was beaten by third-seeded John Bowlsby of Iowa, 9-1.
Virginia's Jerry Young dropped a 16-8 decision to fourth-ranked Dave Becker of Penn State at 158. The Cavaners' Bob Harwick, after winning a 142 preliminary from Ralph McCausland of Eastern Illinois, 5-4, was ousted in the first round by Charles Shelton of Oklahoma State, 15-8.
Heavyweight Jimmy Jackson of Oklahoma State, bidding for a third straight NCAA title, pinned Ralph Ziger of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 81 seconds.
Wisconsin's Lee Kemp, a 158-pounder with three straight on his mind, toyed with William Smith of Morgan State, 15-3.
Kelly Ward, the Iowa State star out of Kennedy High School, stayed on course to a rematch of his 1977 final loss to Kemp by winning two matches. Ward scored a takedown six seconds after the start and beat Lamont Roth of Montana, 13-4. Then, with his first takedown coming after 22 seconds, Ward demolished Roy Glenn of California, 18-2.
Walsh gained command during the third period of his match with Smith, after exhausting his frustrations on the disappointed Cowboy. Smith had wrestled a preliminary in the morning, but Walsh was too concerned with assembling some gear to watch.
Walsh's first act after his victory was to walk to a nearby mat and watch his older brother. Mike, a 134-pound junior from Michigan State. He would up offering condolences, as Mike Walsh dropped an 11-9 decision to Dave Blake of Arizona and eliminated the possibility of a fraternal semifinal.