CLEVELAND — The second round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships began with Iowa (18.5) leading Ohio State and Penn State by 1.5 and 2.5 points respectively. It ended with Ohio State in the lead with 36 and Penn State (28.5) and Iowa (27) trailing closely behind. Ohio State’s wrestlers went 19-1 through the first two rounds, and all ten of them look poised to win their first match on Friday. Te’Shan Campbell, the transfer from Pitt, is the only wrestler not in the championship bracket. With Nick Lee losing in the first round, Penn State has a tall task ahead of them if they want to win it all.
Pitt went 0-2 in the championship side with Forys and Rahmani each losing two point decisions. In the consolation bracket, both Nick Zanetta and Ryan Solomon won in dominant fashion, ensuring all four Panthers will return to compete in day two. Pitt is tied for 14th place with 10 points.
The third installment of Forys-Parker was similar to the first two; a very physical match that came down to one or two scores. The only difference this time is that Parker won. This marks the third straight year Forys lost in the second round, and now he will have to win three in a row to reach the podium. Forys gave up the first takedown, but scored one of his own as well. Late in the match, the ref called a penalty point against Forys which completely changed the outlook of the match. Unable to score before time expired, Forys fell 7-5.
“The thing that stings right now is Dom’s match. I felt like he out-wrestled that guy and it was taken from him.” Coach Gavin is referring to the penalty point for hands-to-the-face against Forys. The issue is that it was called while Dom was in the process of scoring a takedown. A unique interpretation of the rules at best.
Dom’s first match on Friday will be against John Erneste, a Missouri Tiger. Erneste is 24-3 on the year and started the tournament as the No. 5 seed. Including this match, Dom has to win three straight to reach the podium. He has his work cut out for him.
Taleb’s match against Hidlay also went similarly to their previous meeting. A low scoring, positional battle saw Hidlay come away with a 4-2 decision. This will drop Taleb to the round of 24, the same round Dom is in. He will face Joey Lavallee, the returning NCAA finalist from Missouri. How’s that for a second round consolation matchup.
Taking on Kyle Shoop from Lock Haven, Nick Zanetta used an early takedown, cross-wrist tilt, and riding time to win 10-1. He is now slated to face the 13 seed, Luke Karam of Lehigh, whom Nick beat in the dual 6-1. A win there would likely set up a match with Kevin Jack, the All American from NC State.
Capping off the day, Ryan Solomon looked to get back on track after falling to NCAA, World, and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder. “He was moving well… but Kyle’s the best guy on planet earth,” admitted Gavin. No worry, Solomon looked great against Matt Stencel of Central Michigan, securing a pin in the second period. For his first match Friday, Ryan will have Thomas Haines of Lock Haven, the 15 seed and four time PIAA State champion.
The wrestling was fantastic all day Thursday. There were more upsets than one could count. More comebacks, challenges, team point deductions. Dreams achieved, dreams crushed. It’s what makes the tournament so special. And it’s only been one day. All four Panthers need three wins to reach the podium. “One match at a time is the focus. And relax. Specifically Dom – he’s wrestling so hard that he’s walking into some shots. Just relax and let your instincts take over.”
Action resumes 11am on Friday with the second round consolations and quarterfinals.