By BROCK HITE
Session one is in the books and it lacked the huge upset you most often see at the Thursday morning session. Not a single guy seeded in the top four came out on the losing end. While the drama was low, it sets up a lot of primetime matches for the 7pm session. Keep a close eye on that 133lb bracket.
Session One Takeaways:
Marinelli Outlasts Smith
Joe Smith (OK State) raced out to a 4-1 lead over the top-seed Alex Marinelli (Iowa) before “the Bull” mounted his comeback. Marinelli earned riding time with a tough second period ride and notched a quick escape in the third period. Marinelli iced the match with his lone takedown in the third.
Stoll Takes Out Parris
A lot a Wednesday chatter was about the redrawing of the 285lb bracket. All-American Sam Stoll moved from the 29-seed to the 28-seed when Jake Gunning (Buffalo) withdrew from the tournament. Stoll looked to be in a form that we haven’t seen all season as he took out Mason Parris (Michigan), 8-5. The match was marred by several boundary stall calls, and Parris was just one call away from being disqualified. Stoll will have to continue to do the heavy lifting as Conan Jennings (Northwestern) and Jordan Wood (Lehigh) appear to be looming in the next two rounds.
Penn State Rolls
Penn State showed why they are the heavy favorite to walk away with the team title. The Nittany Lions went 9-0 in the first session. They secured five falls, two major decisions, and two decisions. With a good round from Bravo-Young and Berge tonight, they could position themselves for a historic point total.
Oklahoma State Won’t Contend
Everything had to go right for the Cowboys to push Penn State for the team title. They needed Joe Smith to make a big splash and hold serve throughout the rest of the line-up. Smith dropped a tight one to Marinelli after getting out to an early lead. Kaden Gfeller was also upset in the first round at 149lbs. For a true team race to develop the Cowboys needed to be perfect to hang with Penn State. It’s still too early to send the trophy to Happy Valley, but I expect the Nittany Lions to lock it up early Friday evening.
What To Watch In Session Two:
125lbs: Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs Sean Fausz (NC State)
Spencer Lee (Iowa) is one of the most fascinating stories in NCAA wrestling. The returning champ is the third-seed at 125lbs, but many experts aren’t willing to not call him the favorite. Lee was victorious by technical fall in the opening round, 18-0. Tonight will be a stiffer test when he faces off with Sean Fausz (NC State). Fausz battles the scale, but that won’t be a problem tonight. He could present problems for Lee.
133lbs: The whole round of 16 will be incredible to watch, but here are four matches to focus on:
Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) vs Montorie Bridges (Wyoming)
Pletcher was 4th a year ago and Bridges was 8th. Bridges had some early season struggles, but appears to have them worked out. Pletcher was victorious over Bridges 3-1sv back at the end of November.
Austin Gomez (Iowa State) vs Micky Phillippi (Pitt)
This will be a clash of styles as Phillippi is calculated, fundamental, and excels in low scoring affairs. Gomez lets it fly and isn’t afraid to give up points in the pursuit of a fall.
Tariq Wilson (NC State) vs Ethan Lizak (Minnesota)
Both guys are known as “gamers.” Lizak has finished second and fourth down at 125lbs the past two seasons. Wilson finished third a season ago at 133lbs. Even though Lizak is came up a class, he still struggles to keep his weight down. Lizak is much better at night more than ten hours off the scale.
Austin DeSanto (Iowa) vs Roman Bravo-Young (PSU)
DeSanto controlled this match at the Big Ten Championships. He hit Bravo-Young several times in his patented fireman’s carry, dump combination. He also pushed Bravo-Young all around the mat early in the match. “RBY” closed the gap late in the match with two takedowns of his own. Will Bravo-Young be able to make the necessary adjustments?
141lbs: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) vs Chad Red (Nebraska)
Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) is the top-seed, returning national champion, and overwhelming favorite at the weight class. All that being said, he could be tested tonight. Chad Red (Nebraska) earned All-American honors last year and pinned two-time national champion Dean Heil (OK State) to do so. Red had a rocky season, but is wrestling his best right now and has big move potential.
174lbs: Jacobe Smith (OK State) vs Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)
Labriola owned a win over Smith during the ‘17-’18 season. Smith spent a large portion of the season up at 184lbs, but seems to be hitting his stride back down at 174.
184lbs: Louis Deprez (Binghamton) vs Drew Foster (Northern Iowa)
Deprez is the new kid on the block and made appearances in several picks as a longshot finalist from the 11-seed. Former All-American Drew Foster will be a big hurdle in the round of 16.