By Brock Hite
After the first day, the championship field has been narrowed down to just eight wrestlers from the original 33. The quarterfinals will kickoff at 11 a.m. Friday. Championship quarterfinal winners will earn All-American honors as they’re guaranteed a top-six finish when they move into the semifinals.
Session Two Takeaways:
The round of 16 at 133 pounds lived up to the hype. The matches were tight, there was drama, and the crowd appreciated every minute of the Austin DeSanto vs Roman Bravo-Young bout.
In the round, Micky Phillippi (Pitt) took a 1-0 win over Austin Gomez (Iowa State). Phillippi scored an escape in the second and made that the deciding factor when Gomez chose neutral in the third period.
Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) scheduled the next chapter of the Pletcher vs Phillippi rivalry when he controlled Montorie Bridges (Wyoming) throughout for a 5-3 decision.
Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) and Tariq Wilson (NC State) rolled through positions for seven minutes with Lizak fighting off a match tying takedown as time expired. The Wolfpack staff challenged the non-call at the end of regulation, but the call was confirmed. There was not a takedown for Wilson.
The bout that captured the crowd’s attention most was the showdown between DeSanto (Iowa) and Bravo-Young (Penn State). Bravo-Young trailed by one as he attacked a double leg. The action took both guys into the scoring table and resulted in a stoppage for concussion protocol for Bravo-Young. When the action was set to resume, the Penn State staff was upset when they realized the takedown wasn’t awarded. They threw the challenge brick trying to secure the points in a video review. The challenge was unsuccessful. DeSanto used a merkle takedown to ice the match and set up the quarterfinal rematch with Stevan Micic (Michigan).
Chip Ness pulled off the upset of the session taking out Shakur Rasheed (Penn State). Ness scrambled to a takedown and four nearfall in the third period to take an 8-6 victory over the second-seeded Rasheed. Rasheed is the only wrestler seeded first or second to fail to make the quarterfinals, and that was his first loss of the season.
Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi had a strong sequence in the third period when he forced a stall call against Emery Parker (illinois), and followed it with a takedown to break a tied match open in his favor. Bonaccorsi yielded an escape, but took the 9-7 upset victory.
What To Watch In Session Three:
The quarterfinals are my favorite round as the four center mats showcase one weight class at a time. The bouts are held until all matches at a weight are completed. This makes for a great spectating experience. Here are a few feature matches you won’t want to miss.
125: Vitali Arujau (Cornell) vs Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern)
125 pounds has gone chalk so far, and nobody should complain about it with the full set of quarterfinals scheduled for tomorrow morning. All four quarters are great, but I like the top quarter the most. Arujau has just one loss after dropping down to 125lbs and is a serious threat to the top-seeded Rivera.
133: Stevan Micic (Michigan) vs Austin DeSanto (Iowa)
The second weight in a row has gone to chalk heading into the quarterfinals. Again the fans will be rewarded with four great matches, but Micic and DeSanto will create the most buzz. They split matches last season with Micic taking the quarterfinal bout at NCAA’s in dominating fashion. DeSanto caused a lot of stir when he was called for an illegal hold in the closing second of the bout as he tried to injure Micic with a kamura. The crowd will be into this match.
165: Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) vs Evan Wick (Wisconsin)
This was the third place match a year ago in Cleveland. Wick won by fall in 3:20, but trailed 4-1 at the time of the fall. Wick chose top in the second period that led to the cradle and fall. This is a highly anticipated rematch.