Fresh off Big Ten titles, Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf kept things rolling Wednesday.
The Penn State wrestling duo claimed the top seeds in next week's NCAA championships at the 149- and 157-pound weight classes, respectively.
The NCAA released the top-2 seeds at each weight class starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday as a lead-up to the full bracket being released two hours later. Nine Nittany Lions qualified for the national tournament, with eight earning top-5 seeds.
The NCAA tournament will be held March 16-18 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
The Penn State qualifiers, their seedings and matchups include
▪ No. 1-seed Retherford (149): He starts his path to defending his title with Arizona State’s Josh Maruca. Retherford has Ohio State’s Micah Jordan (No. 4), whom he beat in the Big Ten finals last weekend, and Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen (No. 5) on his side of the bracket.
▪ No. 1-seed Nolf (157): He lost in last year’s final to Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez and opens up with Stanford’s Paul Fox this season. He may have to deal with Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith (No. 5) and Nebraska’s Tyler Berger (No. 4).
▪ No. 2-seed Bo Nickal (184): He was the only other Nittany Lion to claim one of the top-2 spots in a weight class. Cornell’s Gabe Dean is the No. 1 seed at Nickal’s weight. Nickal begins his run to the finals again against Northwestern’s Mitch Sliga.
▪ No. 3-seed Nick Suriano (125): He didn’t compete in the Big Ten tournament but didn’t seem to be penalized by the committee. He will make his NCAA tournament debut vs. Buffalo’s Kyle Aikins. He falls on the bottom part of the bracket away from No. 1 Thomas Gilman of Iowa. Suriano could get Virginia Tech’s Joey Dance — the No. 2 seed — in the semifinals if they both reach that far.
▪ No. 3-seed Vincenzo Joseph (165): Joseph won’t have to face Martinez — the No. 1 seed — until the finals if they get there. Joseph will begin with Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck.
▪ No. 5-seed Mark Hall (174): He makes his NCAA debut with San Diego State’s David Kocer.
▪ No. 5-seed Matt McCutcheon (197): He gets a conference foe in Purdue’s Christian Brunner.
▪ No. 5-seed Nick Nevills (285): The sophomore will take on the winner of Ohio’s Zack Parker and Lehigh’s Doug Vollaro.
▪ Unseeded Jimmy Gulibon (141): He did not receive a seed. His draw was a tough one. Gulibon drew Michigan State’s Javier Gasca III, who is No. 13, in the opening round. Gasca III pinned Gulibon in the Big Ten quarterfinals in an upset last weekend.
Other No. 1 seeds in the tournament include Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello (133) and Kyle Snyder (285), Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil (141), Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia (174) and Missouri’s J’Den Cox (197).