Penn State Leads NCAA Wrestling Championships After Day One
Thursday marked the start of the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships and a shot for Penn State to win its fifth National Championship in six years. The first two sessions were important for Penn State to get some wins and score some bonus points to get some momentum for the next two days and four sessions. The Nittany Lions did just that, and they put themselves in a good position for the next four sessions. They advanced eight of nine wrestlers farther along into the second round and another six made it through to the quarterfinals as Penn State led all teams after the first two sessions of the opening day.
How It Happened
Eight of nine Nittany Lion wrestlers won their respective matches, earning them a spot in the second round of the championship bracket. Jordan Conaway and Geno Morelli both earned a single point with a 6-5 decision and a 5-3 decision, respectively. Three Penn State wrestlers won by major decision, earning the team two points. Those winners were Nico Megaludis with an 18-5 victory, Bo Nickal with a 10-2 win, and Morgan McIntosh with an 11-3 victory.
Jimmy Gulibon and Zain Retherford both won by technical falls, giving them 2.5 points for the team. Gulibon got his technical fall at 7:00 by a 17-2 score over No. 5 Matt Manley, and Retherford got his technical fall at 5:46 with a 21-6 score over Coleman Hammond. Jason Nolf recorded the only pin for Penn State, as he pinned Kamaal Shakur of Chattanooga at 3:34, giving Penn State three points. Matt McCutcheon was the only one to lose on the day, as he fell to Tom Sleigh of Bucknell by a 4-3 decision. At the end of Session One, Penn State had 16 points.
Of the eight wrestlers remaining in the championship, six advanced to the quarterfinals. The three No. 1 seeds — Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal, and Morgan McIntosh — all advanced with relative ease. Retherford kept his undefeated season alive with a pin over at 149 over Patricio Lugo of Edinboro. McIntosh was down early in the second period 4-1 to Kyle Conel of Kent State, but turned the match around as the period progressed to take over and win via pin. Nickal picked up a 7-2 decision win over Micah Barnes of Nebraska to advance.
Jason Nolf continued his quest to avenge his loss to Isaiah Martinez in the Big Ten Championship with a win by technical fall over Canaan Bethea at 157. Nico Megaludis and Jordan Conaway won by decision at 125 and 133 respectively.
The two losses of the round came from Jimmy Gulibon and Geno Morelli. Gulibon dropped a 6-0 decision at 141 to Old Dominion’s Chris Mecate. Geno Morelli lost via sudden victory in the second overtime to Steven Rodrigues of Illinois. The day closed out with a consolation round loss from Matt McCutcheon at to Jack Dechow of Old Dominion via a 6-1 decision.
Standings After Day 1:
Penn State: 27.5
Ohio State 24
Oklahoma State: 24
Virginia Tech 17.5
NC State 13
Wrestler Of The Meet
Zain Retherford | Redshirt Sophomore | 149-Pound Weight Class
The young Penn Stater managed to live up to his name as one of the top wrestlers in the country after notching two easy victories by technical fall and a pin to bring himself within three wins of his first National Championship.
Sessions three and four begin Friday at 11 a.m. for Session Three and 8 p.m. for Session Four. Penn State aims to score some more points and build on what they got from sessions one and two Thursday.