Penn State freshman Nick Suriano, who injured his ankle last month, expected to wrestle in this week’s NCAA wrestling championships — but that changed Wednesday.
Early Wednesday afternoon, the Nittany Lions’ Twitter account released a statement saying, “We would like to announce at this time that 125-pounder Nick Suriano will not be able to compete in this year’s NCAA Championships.”
“We were trying to give him as much time as possible,” Cael Sanderson said on Wednesday, two days after saying Suriano was good to go. “It was going to be a ‘day-before’ type of decision. We were trying to get him to a point where he would be competitive enough to compete and protect himself. I don’t feel like he is in that position, so he’s not going to wrestle.”
Suriano suffered an ankle injury against Oklahoma State on Feb. 19 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Dual Championship Series title dual. Two weeks later, the Nittany Lions were set to take part in the Big Ten tournament.
The true freshman had to “compete” in the tournament to be eligible for the NCAA championships. Suriano gingerly walked onto the mat for his first-round Big Ten match just to have his opponent’s hand raised. With that, he was eligible to wrestle this week thanks to an at-large berth.
With Surano’s injury sidelining him again, it just got a lot harder for Penn State to repeat as national champion.
But opposing coaches and players still offered their condolences and support.
“Obviously, I’m sorry to hear that,” Iowa wrestler Thomas Gilman said Wednesday. “You never want to hear someone getting hurt or not being able to compete. That’s no good. I always want the best to compete against me. I hope he gets well soon.”
Suriano was considered to be an NCAA finalist before the ankle injury. And, as the No. 3 seed, he wouldn’t have had to see his lone true loss — Gilman — until the finals.
His first-round opponent, Buffalo’s Kyle Akins, will now advance due to Suriano’s forfeit.