The final tournament of the year has arrived for Penn State wrestlers — the NCAA Championships.
The brackets were released Wednesday, and the Nittany Lions grabbed two top seeds. They also had four others earn No. 2 or No. 3 seeds in their weight classes.
Zain Retherford (149 pounds) and Bo Nickal (184) garnered the top seeds, with Jason Nolf (No. 3, 157), Vincenzo Joseph (No. 3, 165), Mark Hall (No. 2, 174), and Nick Nevills (No. 3, 285) getting in the top three.
Shakur Rasheed received the next-highest seed at No. 5 at 197 pounds. Nick Lee (141) came in at No. 8, and Corey Keener did not receive a seed at 133.
Retherford begins his climb to a third straight NCAA crown with Eastern Michigan’s Kyle Springer (21-16). Nickal, meanwhile, will attempt to reach his third finals and starts against San Diego State’s Martin Mueller (26-6).
Nickal could wrestle Penns Valley graduate Corey Hazel, who competes for Lock Haven if both reach the semifinals. Hazel didn’t receive a seed at 184 pounds and begins with the No. 12 seed in Chattanooga’s Bryce Carr.
Nolf starts with Central Michigan’s Colin Heffernan (19-6). If Nolf wants to make the finals again, he could have an NCAA finals rematch with Missouri’s Joey Lavallee, who is No. 2, in the semfinals of this year’s tournament. The top seed at the weight class is Mifflin County graduate Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State.
Joseph ended up on the bottom part of the bracket, which means he won’t have to face Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez — the No. 1 seed — until the finals. Joseph takes on Princeton’s Jonathan Schleifer (16-11).
Nevills, like Joseph and Nolf, will miss the top seed at his weight, which in this case is Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder. Nevills, who takes on Kent State’s Stephen Suglio (20-8), would have to face Michigan’s Adam Coon for a trip to the finals if they both reach the semifinals.
Rasheed opens with the Citadel’s Sawyer Root (25-14), and Lee will take on a Big Ten foe in Maryland’s Ryan Diehl. Keener will face No. 11 Dom Forys of Pittsburgh.
The remaining top seeds are Lehigh’s Darian Cruz (125 pounds), South Dakota State’s Seth Gross (133), Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith (141), Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia (174), Ohio State’s Kollin Moore (197).