Video: NCAA Championships Athlete and Coach Interviews
ST LOUIS, Mo. – After a relatively tame morning session, the upset bug visited the Scottrade Center in full force on Thursday evening as the quarterfinals of the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships were set in front of 18,157 fans with Penn State remaining atop the team standings.
The Nittany Lions moved seven wrestlers to tomorrow morning’s quarterfinals, and as seems to be the trend, bonus point victories were the major factor in Penn State’s performance.
NCAA finalist Bo Nickal led the way for Penn State by securing a third period pin over Steven Schneider of Binghamton at 184 pounds. Nickal is set to face Tim Dudley of Nebraska tomorrow morning in a battle of returning NCAA finalists.
True freshman Mark Hall let loose in a clean 16-0 technical fall over Navy’s Jadaen Bernstein to qualify for the 174-pound quarterfinals. Hall will take on Virginia Tech All-American and No. 4 seed Zach Epperly for a spot in the semifinals.
“I am happy to be in such a great environment. I am just trying to compete, to give it the best I can out there. I have got to do my part. The team part will take care of itself. We have a really good team and these guys are strong,” Hall said.
The duo of doom, Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf, continued their dominating ways with technical fall wins. Retherford, the defending NCAA champion at 149 pounds, went 16-0 over Princeton’s Jordan Laster. The returning NCAA finalist Nolf scored a 24-9 win over Bucknell’s Victor Lopez.
Also alive on the championship side for Penn State are Vincenzo Joseph at 165 pounds, Matt McCutcheon at 197 pounds and Nick Nevills at heavyweight.
“It is a big day tomorrow, obviously,” said Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson. “Friday is always big, and Saturday gets bigger. Every match gets bigger. But we are having fun and the guys are wrestling well.”
Excluding two medical forfeits from 125-pounder Nick Suriano, Penn State owns a 15-1 record for the tournament with 10 of those wins coming with bonus points.
Oklahoma State matched Penn State with seven quarterfinalists, but suffered two considerable upsets in the second round with highly-ranked wrestlers Anthony Collica and Austin Schafer falling into the consolation bracket. The Cowboys are currently third in the team standings, trailing Penn State by five points.
As the No. 2 seed at 149 pounds, Collica became the highest seed to drop a match after being stunned by No. 15 seed Kenny Theobold of Rutgers 9-3 in sudden victory. Schafer entered as the No. 6 seed at 285 pounds, but was handled by unseeded Conan Jennings of Northwestern, 8-0.
On the plus side, the Cowboys still control their fate in the team race with all 10 wrestlers still eligible for All-American status and several wrestlers favored to advance to the semifinals.
NCAA champion Dean Heil exorcized his clutch gene for the second time today as he outlasted Navy’s Jared Prince 9-5 courtesy of a couple late takedowns. Heil looks to continue his undefeated season tomorrow morning against wiley Missouri freshman Jaydin Eierman in the 141-pound quarters.
Big 12 champion and No. 3 seed Kaid Brock outmaneuvered Minnesota rival Mitch McKee, 3-1, to advance to the 133-pound quarterfinals against No. 11 seed Bryan Lantry of Buffalo. Lantry upset No. 6 seed Dom Forys of Pittsburg, 5-3, to set the match.
No. 9 seed Chandler Rogers avenged a loss from the Big 12 finals to West Virginia’s Dylan Cottrell, pinning the Mountaineer in 52 seconds. It was Rogers second pin of the tournament, a win that sealed a matchup against two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in the 165-pound quarterfinals.
“It’s a good way to start the tournament off,” Rogers said. “I told myself there’s no way I’m going to the loser’s bracket. I want to try to win this thing. Every guy in our weight could possibly win this weight class. It leaves it up to anybody, and I want it to be me. Right now, I’m at a good pace, and the coaches are saying I’m on fire. I’m loving it.”
Other Cowboy quarterfinalists include Nick Piccininni at 125 pounds, Joseph Smith at 157 pounds, Nolan Boyd at 184 pounds and Preston Weigel at 197 pounds.
Ohio State sits in second place in the team standings 4.5 points behind Penn State, but the Buckeyes lost a major bullet on the championship side with NCAA champion Myles Martin being stunned in the second round by Big Ten rival Emery Parker of Illinois, 14-9.
Defending NCAA champions and No. 1 seeds Nathan Tomasello and Kyle Snyder led the Buckeye charge on day one with bonus point victories coming in each of their four matches. Tomasello will take on Illinois All-American Zane Richards in the 133-pound quarterfinals while Snyder will do the same against Minnesota All-American Michael Kroells at heavyweight.
The brothers Jordan, Micah and Bo, both qualified for the quarterfinals and will face stout opponents from Iowa. Micah will face NCAA finalist Brandon Sorensen in a rubber match at 149 pounds. Bo takes on All-American Alex Meyer at 174 pounds.
Big Ten champion Kollin Moore downed Oregon State’s Corey Griego by 16-4 major decision to advance at 197 pounds. He will face Oklahoma State’s Weigel for a place in the semifinals.
The Iowa Hawkeyes ended an impressive first day in fourth place overall with six wrestlers advancing to the quarterfinals.
NCAA finalists Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark returned to the quarterfinal round with decisive round two wins. Gilman defeated Campbell’s Nathan Kraisser, 22-8, and Clark topped Princeton’s Pat D’Arcy, 10-5.
Two-time Big Ten champion Sammy Brooks and No. 2 seed freshman Michael Kemerer round out the list of Hawkeyes in the quarterfinals.
Missouri ended the first day in fifth place overall with five athletes making the quarterfinals. Two-time NCAA champion and Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox picked up a 12-3 major decision over Navy’s Steban Cervantes to lead the way for the Tigers.
Thus far, all 10 top seeds have kept perfect records intact, moving comfortable to the quarterfinals.
Outside of the Collica loss, the only top-sour seed to lose was Stanford All-American Joey McKenna, who entered as No. 3 at 141 pounds. McKenna was pinned by Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn in overtime on Thursday evening.
Qualifying for the quarterfinals as unseeded wrestlers were Alex Kocer of South Dakota State at 149 pounds, Bryant Clagon of Rider and Paul Fox of Stanford at 157 pounds, and Conan Jennings of Northwestern at 285 pounds.
No bracket saw the top eight seeds navigate cleanly to tomorrow morning with only four weight classes featuring seven of the top eight seeds in the quarterfinals.
Session three of the NCAA Division I Championships will begin at 11 a.m. (ET) on Friday with the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal action will be televised live on ESPNU and streamed online on ESPN3.
Complete brackets and match-by-match results for this event can be found on Trackwrestling.com.
2017 NCAA DIVISION I WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
March 16-18 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
1. Penn State 30.5
2. Ohio State 26
3. Oklahoma State 25.5
4. Iowa 24.5
5. Missouri 20
6. Cornell 19
7. Minnesota 18.5
8. Virginia Tech 18
9. Central Michigan 14.5
10. Lehigh 14
10. Nebraska 14
No. 1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) vs. No. 8 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State)
No. 12 Sean Fausz (North Carolina State) vs. No. 4 Darian Cruz (Lehigh)
No. 14 Freddie Rodriguez (SIU Edwardsville) vs. No. 6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota)
No. 10 Jack Mueller (Virginia) vs. No. 2 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
No. 1 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) vs. No. 8 Zane Richards (Illinois)
No. 5 Stevan Micic (Michigan) vs. No. 4 Cory Clark (Iowa)
No. 3 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 11 Bryan Lantry (Buffalo)
No. 7 Eric Montoya (Nebraska) vs. No. 2 Seth Gross (South Dakota State)
No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 8 Jaydin Eierman (Missouri)
No. 5 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers) vs. No. 4 Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton)
No. 11 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) vs. No. 6 George DiCamillo (Virginia)
No. 10 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming) vs. No. 2 Kevin Jack (North Carolina State)
No. 1 Zain Retherford (Penn State) vs. Alex Kocer (South Dakota State)
No. 5 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) vs. No. 4 Micah Jordan (Ohio State)
No. 3 Lavion Mayes (Missouri) vs. No. 6 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech)
No. 7 Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) vs. No. 15 Kenny Theobold (Rutgers)
No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) vs. Bryant Clagon (Rider)
No. 5 Joseph Smith (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 4 Tyler Berger (Nebraska)
No. 3 Joey LaVallee (Missouri) vs. Paul Fox (Stanford)
No. 7 Dylan Palacio (Cornell) vs. No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa)
No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) vs. No. 9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State)
No. 5 Chad Walsh (Rider) vs. No. 4 Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin)
No. 3 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) vs. No. 6 Daniel Lewis (Missouri)
No. 7 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State) vs. No. 2 Logan Massa (Michigan)
No. 1 Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) vs. No.9 Myles Amine (Michigan)
No. 5 Mark Hall (Penn State) vs. No. 4 Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
No. 3 Bo Jordan (Ohio State) vs. No. 11 Alex Meyer (Iowa)
No. 10 Zac Brunson (Illinois) vs. No. 2 Brian Realbuto (Cornell)
No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) vs. No. 8 Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
No. 12 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa) vs. No. 4 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State)
No. 3 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) vs. No. 11 Emery Parker (Illinois)
No. 7 Tim Dudley (Nebraska) vs. No. 2 Bo Nickal (Penn State)
No. 1 J’den Cox (Missouri) vs. No. 8 Ryan Wolfe (Rider)
No. 5 Matt McCutcheon vs. No. 4 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech)
No. 3 Kollin Moore (Ohio State) vs. No. 6 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State)
No. 10 Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion) vs. No. 2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota)
No. 1 Kyle Snyder (Ohio Snyder) vs. No. 8 Michael Kroells (Minnesota)
No. 5 Nick Nevills (Penn State) vs. No. 4 Jacob Kasper (Duke)
No. 3 Ty Walz (Virginia Tech) vs. Conan Jennings (Northwestern)
No. 7 Tanner Hall (Arizona State) vs. No. 2 Connor Medbery (Wisconsin)