For the second time in the NCAA wrestling championships, Penn State trails Ohio State in the team race.
The Nittany Lions’ five finalists will have work to do if they plan to win their seventh title in eight years. Penn State trails the Buckeyes 130.5-124.5.
Nick Lee (141 pounds), Shakur Rasheed (197) and Nick Nevills (285) each took part in the morning session and did what they could to help the team in the consolations.
Lee fell to Missouri’s Jaydin Eierman 12-4 in the consolation semifinals. The true freshman went on to finish fifth with a 9-7 win over North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack. Lee gave up a late takedown to go into sudden victory. He then drug his toes for a takedown of his own in the sudden victory period.
Rasheed, who started the year as Penn State’s third-string 197-pound wrestler, finished seventh. Rasheed snapped off several takedowns on Missouri’s Willie Miklus. He earned Penn State a needed bonus-point with an 11-3 major decision.
Nevills gave folks a little bit of a scare in his seventh-place match with Maryland’s Youssif Hemida. Nevills gave up a late takedown and trailed the Terrapin wrestler 4-3 in the third period. Nevills escaped to make it 4-4 and Nevills then countered Hemida for a takedown. Hemida escaped and Nevills hung on for the 7-5 win thanks to a riding time advantage.
The Nittany Lions’ “Murderer’s Row” of Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184) all look to repeat Saturday night and clinch the team title.
Retherford and Nolf will take part in all-Pennsylvania finals. Retherford takes on Lock Haven’s Ronnie Perry, who is the No. 15 seed and upset his way to the finals. Nolf gets Mifflin County graduate Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State.
Joseph gets a rematch with Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez, who Joseph used the famed inside trip to pin the Fighting Illini wrestler last year. Hall will look to avenge a preseason loss to Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia. Valencia topped Hall 3-2 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic at the beginning of November.
Nickal will take on Ohio State’s Myles Martin for the ninth time in their collegiate careers. Nickal holds the 6-2 advantage but one of those losses came in the 2016 NCAA finals in New York.