Penn State clinches 8th NCAA wrestling title in 9 seasons
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (AP) — Five Penn State wrestlers will compete for individual NCAA championships on Saturday night knowing they already are team champions. Again.
The Nittany Lions clinched their fourth straight team championship and eighth in nine seasons on Saturday, midway through the consolation semifinals of the NCAA wrestling tournament.
The victory was nearly inevitable as second-place Ohio State needed to earn bonus points with major decisions, technical falls or pins in all of their remaining matches to have a shot at closing the gap. But 184-pounder Myles Martin was forced to settle for a 5-2 decision in his consolation semifinal against Illinois’ Emery Parker, ensuring Penn State’s win.
Penn State entered the fifth session with a 120.5-88.5 lead over Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions have three wrestlers vying for their third overall individual titles as Jason Nolf (157 pounds), Vincenzo Joseph (165) and Bo Nickal (184) try to join former Penn State star Ed Ruth as the program’s only three-time national champions.
Mark Hall (174) and Anthony Cassar (185) also will wrestle for championships.
Nolf will face Nebraska’s Tyler Berger, Joseph squares off with Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, Nickal meets Ohio State’s Kollin Moore and Hall goes against defending champion Zahid Valencia of Arizona State in a rematch of last season’s 174-pound championship.
Cassar and Oklahoma State’s Derek White will wrestle for the heavyweight championship.
The other finals were set following Friday’s semifinals.
Iowa’s Spencer Lee will defend his 125-pound championship against Virginia’s Jack Mueller while defending 141-pound champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell faces Ohio State’s Joey McKenna.
At 133 pounds, Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix will face Rutgers’ Nick Suriano, who will join teammate Anthony Ashnault (149) in trying to win their program’s first NCAA titles. Ashnault meets Ohio State veteran Micah Jordan in the finals.
Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster and Cornell’s Max Dean will decide the 184-pound championship.