The NCAA Wrestling Championships got underway at high noon on Thursday at the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Quicken Loans Arena. Each of the four Panthers competing wrestled one match in the opening session going 2-2 altogether. Dom Forys (133), Nick Zanetta (141), Taleb Rahmani (157), and Ryan Solomon (285) took the mats, each looking to become an All American for the first time.
After giving up the first takedown, Dom Forys returned the favor to Corey Keener of Penn State, and finished the period on top racking up two minutes of riding time. However, after escaping to start the second, Forys yielded another takedown. As Keener got slightly out of position, Forys was able to reverse the Blue Mountain native straight to his back and pin him, eliciting an eruption from the crowd. But it was not the Pitt faithful making the noise; the Ohio State fan club roots just as hard against Penn State as they do for the Buckeyes, with massive team race implications in every match. This was followed by Nick Lee of Penn State also getting pinned, causing an even bigger cheer. Lee was pinned by Ryan Diehl of Maryland, the same wrestler who gave Jason Nolf his only loss in high school. It appears he has a penchant for spoiling things for the Nittany Lions.
For his second round match, Forys will square off against Scotty Parker of Lehigh. Forys is 2-0 vs Parker in his career.
The second match for the Panthers featured Nick Zanetta taking on Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell, the freshman 3 seed. As in their match in Las Vegas earlier this year, Yianni came away with the major decision, sending Nick to the consolation side. He will face the winner of Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven) and Irvin Enriquez (Appalachian State).
At 157, Taleb Rahmani, unseeded, took on No. 16 Mike D’Angelo from Princeton. Like Forys, Taleb gave up the first takedown, but largely controlled the first half of the match. In the third period Taleb hit one of his patented double-over-hook-from-front-headlock pinning combinations and ended the match at 5:53. Rahmani will face No. 1 seed and familiar ACC foe Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State in the second round tonight. Hidlay won 6-4 in overtime two weeks ago.
Rounding out the round of 32 for the Panthers was fifth year senior Ryan Solomon. The top 16 wrestlers in each weight class are seeded, with the remaining 17 being randomly pulled in to complete the 33 man bracket. As an unseeded wrestler, you can only hope for a good draw. One would submit drawing the No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler on the planet, three-time defending World, and two-time defending NCAA champ is probably a bad draw. That’s what Solomon did with Kyle Snyder of Ohio State. Solomon didn’t back down though, and it was only 4-2 after the first period. But as the match progressed, Snyder did what he does best, stringing together takedowns and came away with the 15-5 major.
Action resumes tonight at 7pm.