USA Wrestling Session 6 Notes, Quo...

Session 6 Notes, Quotes and tidbits from an outstanding 2017 NCAA Championships

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | March 19, 2017, 1:12 a.m. (ET)

J’Den Cox of Missouri hits a low single on Brett Pfarr of Minnesota, on the way to his third NCAA title at 197 pounds. Photo by Mark Lundy

In our final Notes Package, we will mix in some stats, some notes, some quotes from the 2017 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo.

Teams that have had five individual NCAA Div. I champions
1986 Iowa – Brad Penrith (126), Kevin Dresser (142), Jim Heffernan (150), Marty Kistler (167), Duane Goldman (190)
1997 Iowa – Jesse Whitmer (118), Mark Ironside (134), Lincoln McIlravy (150), Joe Williams (158), Lee Fullhart (190)
2005 Oklahoma State – Zach Esposito (149), Johny Hendricks (165), Chris Pendleton (174), Jake Rosholt (197), Steve Mocco (285).
2017 Penn State – Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184)

Question. Bo, only three other teams had five champions, and you guys did five in a row. So I'm trying to picture your workouts, these five straight weights all the guys that won the nationals in addition to all the other studs in your room. Is that one of the reasons why you guys are so good, is because of the quality of the kids that are working with each other every day?
Bo Nickal: Yes, it's definitely. I think that just excellence breeds excellence. And that's what we're doing at Penn State. So each and every group that we get is top-notch. A kid not only as a wrestler but as a person. And I feel that really is what's going to make the difference over the long run. I mean, there's a lot of talent out there. But at Penn State we get the right kinds of people and kids with character. That shows. You see kids coming in like Nick Suriano, Mark Hall, Vincenzo, kids coming in, winning at the highest levels. Some of them weren't even 20 years old to start the season. And that's incredible and I'm so happy that my team got to go out there and win five straight. And I got to kind of put the exclamation point on the end of it. Awesome feeling proud of my team.

Olympic Champions who have won NCAA titles after getting Olympic gold

Yojiro Uetake of Oklahoma State – 1964, 1968 Olympic champion for Japan, 1964, 1965 and 1966 NCAA champion
Kyle Snyder of Ohio State – 2016 Olympic champion for USA, 2016 and 2017 NCAA champion 


Question. Talk about your goals being a multiple champion. I-Mar was very aggressive after his first that he wanted to win four. Just curious now after you've won your first one, how you think about that?
Vincenzo Joseph: Obviously everyone wants to win four national titles. I want to win four national titles but I'll just keep taking it one year at a time, one match at a time, just focusing on every match because if you keep looking forward, well, I want to win four, I want to win four, you kind of lose sight of what's right in front of you.

2017 National Champions by Conference
Big Ten – 7 - Snyder (285), Clark (133), Retherford (149), Nolf (157), Joseph (165), Hall (174), Nickal (184)
Big 12 – 1 - Heil (141)
EIWA – 1 - Cruz (125)
MAC – 1 - Cox (197)

Question. You guys must go some matches in practice. I mean, is it more difficult to beat your teammates who are all around the same size or the opponents, even here in the NCAA finals?
Jason Nolf: Yeah, I mean our guys are pretty good, as you can see. We've got five guys in the finals back to back to back to back to back. So those guys are definitely some of the toughest guys I get to wrestle. We get to learn each other's -- how we wrestle. We're continuously evolving because we're competitive and we want to keep getting better and better and we all just help each other do that.

2017 All-Americans By Conference
Big Ten – 36
Big 12 – 11
ACC – 9
MAC – 8
EIWA – 7
EWL, SoCon and Pac-12 – 3

Q. What was more difficult, winning it the first time or coming back and being able to hold the turf? Obviously this also puts you in another step of great champions from Oklahoma State?
Dean Heil: I don't really look at it as defending title. A lot of guys' dreams are to win a national championship. I just had the opportunity to win a second. And I'm blessed for that. But at the same time I'd have to say winning my first one was definitely a lot more tougher, just because the whole experience was different. The environment, the crowd. I mean this time, like I said on the previous question, George (DeCamillo) was new to it. Three years in a row he got knocked out early, not even experiencing the semifinals or in this case the finals. I could just feel that timidness, the nerves and everything that he had, whereas I've been there. I experienced it. And I knew what to expect. And I felt so calm going into that match.

Colleges getting first NCAA Div. I All-American in 2017
South Dakota State–(2) Seth Gross (2nd at 133), Alex Kocer (8th at 149)
Campbell – Nathan Kraisser (8th at 125)
Note:– Jake Residori of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (8th at 165) was the team’s first Div. I All-American since SIU-E became a Div. I program. Back when Div. II athletes could advance to Div. I, SIU-E had 10 previous Div. I All-Americans, with the last being Tim Wright (3rd at 118 in 1987).

Question. You were taken down first.
Retherford: Yep.
Question. You were unfazed by that. Talk about how you were able to bounce back and not only win but just dominate the rest of the match, despite the open takedown.
Zain Retherford: Not really getting down on myself. I've been taken down before. I was feeling kind of nervous a little bit, but more excited nervous. So that's the signal it's go time. It's national finals, let's go. So, yeah, just focusing on keep scoring after that point, doesn't matter.

2017 Unseeded 2017 All-Americans
Paul Fox of Stanford (7th at 157)
Alex Kocer of South Dakota State (8th at 149)
Jake Residori of SIU-Edwardsville (8th at 174)

Question. Iowa has a tradition not only of excellence in wrestling, but also toughness. And I mean a lot of people talk about it. But for some reason the people that compete there and come out of that program can deliver it. Talk a little bit about how that helps an athlete like you even get through the tough times, just knowing that this is how Iowa people wrestle.
Cory Clark: You mean it goes back to the reason that I went to Iowa. I saw the way they wrestled, they're tough and competitive. All the assets you said, those are what you got. All programs got their things that they are good at. Okie State kind of this lure you to sleep, wrestle the edge a little bit. We're the opposite. We're go, go, try, go, go, and control the center of the mat, stay away from the edge. And that's just the way I grew up. That's how I like to wrestle. I'm a go-getter. I'm not a wait-around type guy. I like to score. I like to push forward. I like to get in guys' faces and guys head butt me, poke me in the eyes, push me in the head, that motivates me and that's, you think kind of talk to myself when a guy head butts me, oh, you think that's going to get to me, that ain't going to get to me. I talk to myself out there. That's just the way I've been my whole life, so Iowa is just where I fit in. And being around other guys that have that same mentality, there's a reason they went to Iowa, there's a reason I went to Iowa. It makes sense why we're like that because we grow up wrestling like that and that's how we want to continue our collegiate career.

Multiple National Champions who won tonight
J’Den Cox of Missouri at 197– now 3x
Dean Heil of Oklahoma State at 141 – now 2x
Zain Retherford of Penn State at 149 – now 2x
Kyle Snyder of Ohio State at 285 – now 2x

Question. You've wrestled on a lot of big stages, PA State finals, Dapper Dan. What was it like to wrestle in this type of environment in front of all these fans and the crowd?
Darian Cruz: To be honest, it was -- I was ready for it. I was mentally and physically ready for it. And I was more nervous, to be honest, with my semis match. But this national championship brings a whole different type of nerves. There's so many people and they're all watching literally just you and some other kid fight for the title. And so but I tried to just dumb it down, you know, I wrestled this kid plenty of times. And every time I go out, no matter what, I'm thinking about before I shake the kids hand, I say in my head, I think, if he takes me down, so what, I get out. I felt what he's got, now I get to my offense. I think worst case scenario, takes me down, I'm cool with it. Takes me down, I get out. I go out and score points, do what I do best.

Multiple National Champions who lost tonight
Gabe Dean of Cornell at 184 – 2x champion,
Isaiah Martinez of Illinois at 165 – 2x champion


Question. You've been at the pinnacle, you already did it between the World's and the Olympics and this. Is there any way to compare this at all to the Olympics?
Kyle Snyder: It's hard to compare. I think it's hard for me to even describe the feeling of what it was like to win the Olympics or the World's or the NCAAs. I think it's just hard to put into words, a lot of training on my part, but a lot of effort and guidance from family, friends, coaches, teammates that all helped me accomplish these things. So very hard for me to describe what it means to win an event like this or the Olympics, just joy and thankful for the opportunities to compete and I love wrestling. So it's fun.

2017 TOTAL ATTENDANCE - 111,454
Session 1 Thursday, March 16 - 18,157
Session 2 Thursday, March 16 - 18,157
Session 3 Friday, March 17 - 18,186
Session 4 Friday, March 17 - 18,344
Session 5 Saturday, March 18 - 18,953
Session 6 Saturday, March 18 - 19,657
111,454 total attendance is third all-time
19,657 session attendance is second all-time (19,715 – St. Louis – 2015)

Mark Hall’s Opening Statement at Press Conference: It's a tough tournament. Probably I wrestled a lot of places. This is one of the tougher places. There's a lot of people out there. I've wrestled around the world, different people, different countries. And the important thing, just have fun. I told myself over and over as soon as the negative thought came into my mind, I replaced it with Jesus loves you, NCAA champion, over and over. And whether I was to win or not, Jesus would still love me. And NCAA champion will one day be in his plan, of course be fulfilled, but just have fun, the most important thing

Tidbits 1
• Lehigh's 3 most recent national champions: Cruz, Rey and Troy Letters (2004) all won their titles in their junior seasons
• Darian Cruz is the 22nd Lehigh individual to win an NCAA title. 28th title overall. First since Zach Rey in 2011.
• Dean Heil's title marks the 142nd individual NCAA championship in program history, which is 60 more than Iowa, who claims the second most individual titles with 82. He is also the 39th Cowboy in school history to win multiple titles. With the win, the Heil also posted the 15th undefeated season of 29 wins or more in program history.
• Cory Clark is the 54th Hawkeye in program history to win an NCAA wrestling title. Those 54 winners have totaled 82 individual national championships. He is also one of just 19 four-time All-Americans in program history.
• J’den Cox is the first three-time champion in Mizzou history

Question. What does it mean to you when people say that you're the greatest Mizzou athlete of all time?
J'Den Cox: It's nice to be recommended. I didn't do this for the accolades. I didn't do this for the acknowledgment. I did it for the love of the sport. But for people to say that, I'm honored to be put in that category. But at the end of the day I wrestle because I love to wrestle. I do what I do because I want to do it and I love to do it. But I'm blessed to have had the accomplishments I've had and I'm honored to have people put me in the conversations of being one of the greatest wrestlers of MU. One of the greatest athletes of MU I'm blessed and happy but at the end of the day I'm overall just joyful in doing what I'm doing.

Tidbits 2
• Missouri placed three in the NCAA Div. I finals for the first time – Levion Mayes (149), Joey Lavallee (157) and J’Den Cox (197)
• Gabe Dean is Cornell’s All-Time wins leader with (151/152) and its seventh four-time All-American.
• Arizona State had a pair of third place finishers, Zahid Valencia at 174 and Tanner Hall at 285. It was the first time since 2011 that ASU had more than one wrestler place third or higher
• Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa, who was fifth at 149, became the first Panther freshman to place that high since 1986. He is just the 10th Panther to earn All-American honors as a freshman.
• With freshman Jaydin Eierman placing fifth at 141, Missouri has had a freshman All-American for four straight years.
• Minnesota has had a Div. I All-American for 32 straight years.
• Name the two schools which have been in the top 10 every year since 2008? That would be Iowa and Cornell.
• Isaac Jordan became Wisconsin’s fourth four-time All-American.
• Cory Clark became Iowa’s 19th four-time All-American.
• Nate Jackson of Indiana became his school’s 20th two-time All-American, and the seventh under coach Duane Goldman.
• Chad Walsh at 165 became Rider’s second two-time All-American.