Before the five Penn State national finalists take the mat on Saturday night with the opportunity to run the team score up, the Nittany Lions will have already captured their second consecutive NCAA title and sixth in seven years. The team title was clinched Saturday morning during the medal round after Penn State led second-placed Ohio State by 31.5 points after the second day of the tournament.
Unless there are any disqualifications in Saturday night’s championship bouts, the Nittany Lions’s title will stand. Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall, and Bo Nickal will wrestle for first place at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN. Nick Nevills placed fifth at 285 lbs. shortly after the title had been clinched in session five.
This national championship comes on the heels of one of the greatest semifinals performances on Friday night where the Nittany Lions completed a royal flush of five straight semifinal wins. Bonus points have been key for Penn State throughout the tournament; of the team’s 30 wins this weekend, 18 have yielded bonus points, including eight technical falls and six pins.
Before Thursday, this weekend’s outcome was uncertain for the Nittany Lions, who had finished second at the Big Ten Championships earlier in the month, when Cael Sanderson announced that Nick Suriano would not be competing this weekend due to injury.
With nine starters, including all five finalists, returning next year, Penn State is already the favorite to repeat as national champions for a third year in a row.