The big show to cap off the Wrestling season did not disappoint. From the very beginning guys kept attacking and the team score held in the balance for most of the evening.
Penn State is on top of the Wrestling world for the 7th time in 8 years. A year of not knowing if they could chase down Ohio State's top to bottom strength was in question until Bo Nickal did something magical, a trademark of the Cael Sanderson era.
Spencer Lee is a true freshman national champion out scrambling the stingy Suriano. Lee needed to avenge a loss to Tomasello to make the finals, and he did so looking like he keeps improving in all areas as he goes. That is a scary proposition for the field.
Micic was in on a shot and nearly finished, but a stalemate was called before he could. Gross shot immediately off the restart and secured a wing for a 4-point tilt and rideout. Micic would score four takedowns, but the deficit was too large to overcome. Gross becomes South Dakota State's first NCAA Champion.
Bryce Meredith was winning late in the third appearing a step ahead of the freshman sensation from Cornell. Meredith ended up on a leg in a counter and Yianni cracked down and locked up a cradle. Much to my surprise his grip held long enough for the takedown and two near fall giving him a championship.
Ronnie Perry made a surpising run to the finals making him the first from Lock Haven since Cary Kolat. Unfortunately, his opponent will go down as one of the best collegiate wrestlers of all-time. Zain Retherford controlled the action on the way to his third title in three consecutive undefeated seasons.
Jason Nolf defending his title looked in serious jeopardy when he suffered a knee injury and only appeared in two matches at the conference tournament. However, he was shooting and scrambling as he stopped another freshman phenom. Nolf grabbed his second title and will go for his third as a senior next season.
Martinez revenged his NCAA Finals loss at the Big Ten tournament and stormed through the toughest bracket this weekend to face Joseph again. Joseph though did what he does best, lure you into a upper body position and finish before you have the chance to retreat out of it. IMar had to chase, but it was too much room to close. Joseph himself is now 2 for 2 in titles and while the weight in 2019 will be loaded with young and veteran talent, the ever improving Penn State product has a solid chance to be a 4-time champion.
Zahid Valencia survived a semifinal scare, but went right back to his dominant ways. He beat defending champion Mark Hall to every position in an incredible performance.
Bo Nickal and Myles Martin wrestle a lot. They met for the NCAA title for the 2nd time in three years and the ever improving Martin makes any match scary. A great shot put Nickal to his back and he just decided in luau of bellying out to fight the position, which for mortal beings usually ends up in disaster, but instead Nickal got a headlock kicking over the first period pin.
197 was a weight that was difficult to predict all season, including who was even starting for certain programs. Macchiavello avenged a loss to Haught with a beautiful 3rd period takedown finish giving North Carolina State their first team trophy in program history.
As expected, the main event did not lead to a lot of scoring with the margin of error being so small between two of the most powerful guys to ever step on the mat. Captain America Snyder had to put up with a high pace and a variety of attacks from Adam Coon. Gibbons put it best that they will be teammates in the future and not opponents. In the 3rd, Coon looked for a shot and Snyder through the underhook at the right time catching Coon's weight on the wrong foot. Add a 3rd NCAA title to the impressive and growing trophy shelf.
For all the young phenoms, college wrestling has a lot of legends graduating this year as well. Of course, every year new guys show up making it already intriguing for next season. A great season for the history books wrapped up in front of huge, loud crowds in Cleveland.
125: Spencer Lee (Iowa) dec. Nick Suriano (Rutgers), 5-1
133: Seth Gross (South Dakota State) dec. Stevan Micic (Michigan), 13-8
141: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) dec. Bryce Meredith (Wyoming), 7-4
149: Zain Retherford (Penn State) dec. Ronnie Perry (Lock Haven), 6-2
157: Jason Nolf (Penn State) dec. Hayden Hidlay (NC State), 6-2
165: Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) dec. Isaiah Martinez (Illinois), 6-1
174: Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) dec. Mark Hall (Penn State), 8-2
184: Bo Nickal (Penn State) pinned Myles Martin (Ohio State), 2:29
197: Michael Macchiavello (NC State) dec. Jared Haught (Virginia Tech), 3-1
285: Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) dec. Adam Coon (Michigan), 3-2
Final Team Standings
1. Penn State 141.5
2. Ohio State 133.5
3. Iowa 97
4. Michigan 80
4. NC State 80
6. Missouri 61.5
7. Cornell 48
8. Virginia Tech 47.5
9. Nebraska 47
10. Arizona State 43