The most exciting round of the NCAA Championships: Friday Night. 6 mats: 2 for the semifinals, 4 for the blood round. It doesn’t get any better than that. And it lived up to its reputation.
Once again Spencer Lee set the pace with a dominant 11-4 decision of his big time rival Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State.
The story of the night however, was the controversial match between Jason Nolf and Hayden Hidlay (NC State). At the end of the first Hidlay scored a takedown, but the refs took it upon themselves to review it without a challenge from the Penn State corner. They waved it off, and that was the difference. Hidlay almost scored again at the end, but to no avail.
In his post match interview Nolf admitted Hidlay got the takedown, and essentially every wrestling pundit who has a twitter account agreed. Apparently NC State officially protested the decision, but of course nothing happened.
In blood round action, Pitt’s Micky Phillippi took on Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State. RBY got two takedowns to Micky’s none, and that tipped the scales too far. The Nittany Lion chose neutral out of respect for Micky’s top game, and the final score was 4-3.
Taleb Rahmani’s fate proved sadly equivalent to Micky’s. Despite an early takedown, Christian Pagdilao (Arizona State) was the better wrestler, and won all the key situations. His four back points in the third put a nail in the coffin, although for moment it appeared Taleb might have a shot to pin him. Pagdilao kept his hips down though, and the Pitt junior’s season came to an end. This is Taleb’s best finish of his career, and he has one more shot to earn All American status.
Nino Bonaccorsi continued Pitt’s disappointing night, in the manner of losing to Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State), whom he beat twice last season. Nino just couldn’t get to his offense like he has all year, and his stellar freshman season will end one match shy of the podium with a 6-0 loss.
The consolation for Micky and Nino is they have three more years of eligibility. Taleb, Kellan Stout, and Demetrius Thomas only have one.
Going back to 2008, Pitt wrestlers are 1-15 in their last 16 blood round matches, and have lost 8 straight. This is a stat that cannot be ignored.
A general overview of the tournament, and thoughts on the finals will follow soon.