Day 1: NCAA Wrestling Championships
Thursday was a good day for Penn State, sending six wrestlers into the quarterfinals and leading all of the teams at the tournament with 32.5 points. Oklahoma State had 29 points for second, and Minnesota had a third place finish with 24 points. Four Penn State players went to consolations Thursday evening, and only one wrestler lost their first consolation bout to end their tournament run.
In his first NCAA tournament appearance, Jimmy Lawson lost a 4-3 decision to Jeremy Johnson of Ohio in the first round of the tournament. Lawson was then put into a pigtail match in the consolation bracket with Adam Fager of Utah Valley. Lawson won the pigtail 5-4. In his first round of consolations, Lawson fell to Ben Apland of Michigan 7-4 in the third period of their match. After leading 4-3 going into the third period, Lawson took down and Apland turned Lawson for back points and rode him out for the third period.
After placing 4th at Big Tens and being seeded 11th, Andrew Alton fell 4-1 to unseeded Drake Houdashelt of Missouri. Houdashelt is making a bit of a run at NCAAs, after upseting 6th seed Dylan Ness of Minnesota. Alton faced Daniel Young of Army, who Alton pinned at 2:05 to contribute some bonus points for Penn State.
Despite beating unseeded Vinny Dellafave of Rutgers 6-1 earlier this season, 11th seed Jordan Conaway lost a 3-1 decision in sudden victory in the first round of his first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In wrestlebacks, Conaway defeated Dylan Hyder of Air Force 6-2 after two sudden victory rounds. Unseeded freshman Dane Harlowe of Boston University defeated the 11th seed in the bracket before losing to the 6th seed to end up in consolations.
Bryan Pearsall made his first appearance at the NCAA Tournament. Pearsall faced Joey Lazor of Northern Iowa. Lazor had a 12-4 major decision over Pearsall to send him to consolations. Frank Goodwin of Maryland was no match for Pearsall with Pearsall winning a 10-2 major decision. Steven Keith of Harvard is up next for Pearsall tomorrow.
8th seed Dylan Alton defeated Jake O’Hara of Columbia in a pigtail match with a major 10-2 decision to give Penn State bonus points going into the first round of the championships. Alton beat Donnie Tasser of Pitt 8-4 in the first round. In Alton’s third match of the day, Alton had a 13-5 major decision over Zac Cibula of Rider in the second round Thursday evening to send him into the quarterfinals. Alton faces top-seed Jason Welch of Northwestern. The two have a history from last season. Welch defeated Alton 2-1 during the regular season, but at the NCAA Championships Alton faced Welch in the third place bout and won 6-2. While this has been a different season for Alton and for Welch as well, the history easily makes this the best second round match that Penn State has. With lots of upsets yesterday in the 157 bracket, if Alton loses though, he has a good shot at placing.
Nico Megaludis, seeded fourth, started the competition off with an 18-2 tech fall over Kevon Powell of Ohio for bonus points. Megaludis took on Chris Cullinan of Central Michigan resulting in a 5-2 decision in the second round. Megaludis’ next opponent Dominic Parisi of Appalachian State upset the 5th seed in the bracket to get to Megaludis.
2nd seed David Taylor started his tournament journey with some nice, unsurprising pins against John Staudenmayer of UNC at 2:51 and Zack Strickland of Appalachian State at 2:41. Tomorrow Taylor faces 7th seed Conrad Polz of Illinois. Taylor had a 13-7 decision over Polz at a dual meet and a 9-1 major decision at Big Tens.
Matt Brown continues to make post-season moves as the second seed. Brown had a 10-1 major decision over Todd Porter of Missouri, who he had beaten earlier this season. In the second round, Brown continued to prove his value with a 1:30 pin over Nick Bonaccorsi of Pitt. Matt Brown faces a wrestler who has been making a name for himself in the tournament. Unseeded freshman Tanner Weatherman of Iowa State has defeated 10th seed Dan Yates of Michigan and 7th seed Jordan Blanton of Illinois. While Brown has had a great post-season performance so far, he should be wary about Weatherman.
Top-seeded Ed Ruth dominated as usual with a 28 second pin over Fred Garcia of Lock Haven and a 3:41 pin over Kevin Radford of Arizona State. Unseeded Max Thomusseit of Pitt upset 8th seed Josh Ihnen of Nebraska. Ruth had a 17-3 major decision over Thomusseit earlier this season.
2nd seed Quentin Wright had two decisions in his first day at NCAAs with a 7-3 victory over Donald Mcneil of Rider and a 3-2 decision over Branden Palix of Drexel. Wright faces 10th seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota, whom he beat 9-5 earlier in the regular season and 5-3 in the finals of the Big Ten tournament. The matchup is obviously important with Minnesota in third place.
Matt Brown and Dylan Alton will likely have the most difficult matchups in the quarterfinals. Penn State will really be counting on bonus points the next few rounds, especially after losing Jimmy Lawson early on, while Oklahoma State and Minnesota trail right behind them and have all ten of their wrestlers remaining.