Matt Ramos (Purdue) celebrates his victory over Spencer Lee (Iowa) in the NCAA semifinals at 125. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers are Warriors.
TULSA, Okla. - Two men came into the 2023 NCAA Championships semifinals with a chance to win a fourth career NCAA title later this weekend. When the round was over, only one remained standing.
At 149 pounds, three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell advanced to Saturday’s final after an 8-3 victory over Penn State’s No. 12 seed Shane Van Ness. While Van Ness had surprised higher seeded opponents up to this point, he had no answer for the 2022 World silver medalist from Cornell.
Standing in Diakomihalis’ way in his attempt to make history in Saturday night’s finals is No. 2 seed Sammy Sasso of Ohio State.
At 125 pounds, three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee of Iowa led late in his match against No. 4 seed Matt Ramos of Purdue. His dream had an abrupt ending when Ramos shocked the world with a pin with just one second left on the clock.
The Ramos victory over Lee will have wrestling fans talking for many years to come, one of the wildest and most exciting semifinals matches in memory. Ramos led early, with a takedown and turn, leading 4-1 after the first period. When Lee was on top in the second, he turned Ramos for four backpoints and took a 5-4 lead. In the third period, Lee scored a takedown confirmed in a challenge to lead 7-4. Then Ramos turned the tables on Lee and secured one of the biggest upsets in NCAA wrestling history.
Ramos will draw No. 2 seed Pat Glory of Princeton, who controlled No. 3 Liam Cronin of Nebraska in the other semifinal. Glory was an NCAA runner-up last year.
Penn State locked up another NCAA team title, pending the official math, by moving five into the finals.
Three of those finalists will be going for a third straight NCAA title, Roman Bravo-Young (133), Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (184). Looking to claim their first NCAA titles for Penn State are freshman No. 2 seed Levi Haines (157) and No. 3 seed junior heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet.
Penn State sat at 116.5 points at the end of the session, which included both the blood round (where All-Americans were determined) and an additional round of consolations.
Iowa, led by finalist Real Woods at 141 pounds, is second with 77 points. Rounding out the top five are Cornell with 64 points, Ohio State with 62 points and Missouri with 55 points.
Woods will battle No. 2 seed Andrew Alirez of Northern Colorado, who is his school’s first NCAA finalist since the program moved up to Div. I.
Other past NCAA champions who will have a chance at a second career title include Austin O’Connor of North Carolina (157), David Carr of Iowa State (165) and Keegan O’Toole of Missouri (165).
The battle between NCAA champions Carr and O’Toole will be the third of this season, with Carr winning the first two, first in a dual meet, as well as in the Big 12 finals. Carr won his NCAA title in 2021, while O’Toole was a national champion last year. Carr rode out No. 5 seed and 2022 NCAA runner-up Quincy Monday of Princeton to win his semifinals, 6-5, and O’Toole controlled Cam Amine of Michigan, 6-0.
O’Connor was a 2021 NCAA champion at 149 pounds and earned his second final appearance with a win over No. 5 seed Josh Humphreys of Lehigh, 4-3. He will battle Haines, who has reached the finals in his first season, after beating No. 3 Peyton Robb of Nebraska, 5-3.
Cornell has two finalists, Diakomihalis and No. 3 seed Vito Arujau of Cornell, who beat three-time NCAA runner-up Daton Fix of Oklahoma State and earned the right to face Bravo-Young for the title on Saturday.
Starocci stopped Chris Foca of Cornell in the semifinals, 6-0. He will face No. 2 Mikey Labriola of Nebraska, who knocked off past NCAA champion and No. 3 seed Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech, 3-1 in tie breaker one.
Brooks reached the finals after a 6-3 win over No. 2 Trent Hidlay of NC State. He will battle No. 1 seed Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa in the finals, who beat No. 4 Trey Munoz of Oregon State, 5-1 in the other semifinals.
Kerkvliet beat No. 2 seed Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force, 4-2, riding him out for the third period to hold a one-point lead and secure riding time. He battles No. 1 seed Mason Parris of Michigan in the finals, who had an impressive 16-1 technical fall victory over Tony Cassioppi of Iowa.
The 197-pound finals will feature No. 1 seed and past NCAA runner-up Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt, who battles No. 7 seed Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State.
NCAA DIV. I MEN’S WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Tulsa, Okla., March 17, 2023
125 - No. 2 Pat Glory (Princeton) vs. No. 4 Matt Ramos (Purdue)
133 - No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) vs. No. 3 Vito Arujau (Cornell)
141 - No. 1 Real Woods (Iowa) vs. No. 2 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)
149 - No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) vs. No. 2 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State)
157 - No. 1 Austin O`Connor (North Carolina) vs. No. 2 Levi Haines (Penn State)
165 - No. 1 David Carr (Iowa State) vs. No. 2 Keegan O`Toole (Missouri)
174 - No. 1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) vs. No. 2 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)
184 - No. 1 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) vs. No. 3 Aaron Brooks (Penn State)
197 - No. 1 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) vs. No. 7 Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State)
285 - No. 1 Mason Parris (Michigan) vs. No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)
No. 4 Matt Ramos (Purdue) pin No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa), 6:59
No. 2 Pat Glory (Princeton) dec. No. 3 Liam Cronin (Nebraska), 8-2
No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) dec. No. 4 Michael McGee (Arizona State), 6-4, SV
No. 3 Vito Arujau (Cornell) maj. dec. No. 2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), 11-3
No. 1 Real Woods (Iowa) maj. dec No. 4 Brock Hardy (Nebraska), 11-1
No. 2 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado) dec. No. 6 Beau Bartlett (Penn State), 6-2
No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) dec. No. 12 Shayne Van Ness (Penn State), 8-3
No. 2 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) maj. dec. No. 3 Kyle Parco (Arizona State), 14-2
No. 1 Austin O`Connor (North Carolina) dec. No. 5 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh), 4-3
No. 2 Levi Haines (Penn State) dec. No. 3 Peyton Robb (Nebraska), 5-3
No. 1 David Carr (Iowa State) dec. No. 5 Quincy Monday (Princeton), 6-5
No. 2 Keegan O`Toole (Missouri) vs. No. 11 Cameron Amine (Michigan), 6-0
No. 1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. No. 4 Chris Foca (Cornell), 6-0
No. 2 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) dec. No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech), 3-1 TB1
No. 1 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 4 Trey Munoz (Oregon State), 5-1
No. 3 Aaron Brooks (Penn State) dec. No. 2 Trent Hidlay (NC State), 6-3
No. 1 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) dec. No. 4 Ethan Laird (Rider), 10-4
No. 7 Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State) dec. No. 3 Rocky Elam (Missouri), 7-2
No. 1 Mason Parris (Michigan) tech fall No. 4 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa), 16-1
No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) dec. No. 2 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force), 4-2
Team Standings after Session Four
1 Penn State 116.5
2 Iowa 77.0
3 Cornell 64.0
4 Ohio State 62.0
5 Missouri 55.0
6 Michigan 51.0
6 Nebraska 51.0
8 Iowa State 44.0
9 NC State 41.5
10 Virginia Tech 40.5