By Brock Hite
Friday night at the NCAA Championships is an evening of overwhelming joy for some, while others suffer the greatest disappointment in sports. All-Americans will jockey for final placing position in the morning tomorrow, and 20 wrestlers kept their national title hopes alive. Forty more go home with tears. Only the eighty All-Americans will take the mat on Saturday. Here are some thoughts about the Friday night action.
Session Four Takeaways:
Jack Mueller (Virginia) dominated the 125lb top-seeded Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) from whistle to whistle. Mueller denied Rivera a third opportunity to wrestle Spencer Lee (Iowa). Mueller will take on that challenge tomorrow evening.
Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) is headed back to the 141lb finals after another thrilling victory over Jaydin Eierman (Missouri). Diakomihalis scored a late takedown to seal the victory, with just 0:27 remaining in the bout. Diakomihalis is still on track to be a four-time champion as he will wrestle for his second title tomorrow evening.
Jason Nolf (Penn State) is headed to his fourth final at 157lbs and is seeking his third title. He didn’t get there without some adversity and just a bit of controversy. Hayden Hidlay (NC State) was awarded a takedown at the end of the first period before an officials review overturned the call. Nolf was then able to fend off a last second takedown attempt from Hidlay to preserve a 3-2 victory.
Max Dean (Cornell) pulled off the upset of the tournament when he took down Myles Martin (Ohio State) in the closing seconds at 184lbs. Martin was looking for his second title after Bo Nickal (Penn State) vacated the weight class this season. The undefeated Martin surrendered the winning takedown to Dean with just nine seconds remaining in the match. Martin was unable to escape, and Dean is the most shocking finalist of the tournament when you consider how heavy of a favorite Martin was coming in. An online casino offered +1800 odds on the field vs Martin. Someone’s rich.
Anthony Cassar (Penn State) repeated his victory over Gable Steveson (Minnesota) with a third period takedown and sealed it with a riding time point. The bout was very similar to the Big Ten Championships with Steveson taking the early lead and Cassar doing his scoring in the third period. Cassar shouldn’t celebrate his victory too much, as he faces Derek White (OK State) in tomorrow’s final. White took the Southern Scuffle Championship over Cassar at the beginning of the year.
What To Watch In Session Five:
I’m not going to pick matches in the All-American consolation rounds to watch tomorrow morning, but don’t think that’s a slight to the action that is going to take place. This round is often one of the most action-packed as the pressure is off, and there is no reason to play it close to the vest. Seniors will receive their proper send-off, and the fans will be treated to a lot of quality wrestling.