A week from now, Penn State will be getting ready to compete for its fifth national championship in six years.
On Wednesday, Nittany Lion wrestlers learned their seeds and first-round opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
The nine wrestlers will be led by three No. 1 seeds in the tournament inside Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Zain Retherford (149), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) earned those top spots for Penn State. Also earning seeds are Nico Megaludis (No. 3, 125), Jason Nolf (No. 3, 157), Jordan Conaway (No. 5, 133) and Matt McCutcheon (No. 16, 184). Jimmy Gulibon and Geno Morelli each are unseeded at 141 and 165 pounds, respectively.
Retherford, Nickal and McIntosh have combined for only one loss on the season.
Retherford opens his quest against the winner of the match between Gardner-Webb’s Chris Vassar and Cal State Bakersfield’s Coleman Hammond. Retherford pinned Hammond at the beginning of the year in the Nittany Lions’ 39-3 win.
Nickal will get Harvard’s Josef Johnson in the first round. Nickal could get a rematch with Illinois’ Zac Brunson in the quarterfinals. Nickal toppled Brunson 18-9 in the Big Ten finals last weekend.
McIntosh, who finished third in last year’s NCAA Tournament, will face Rider’s Ryan Wolfe for a second time this year. McIntosh earned a 10-1 major decision over Wolfe in Penn State’s 38-4 win on Dec. 19.
Megaludis will wait for his opponent. He will face the winner of Old Dominion’s Brandon Jeske and Utah Valley’s Chasen Tolbert. Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello was the top seed at 125.
Nolf, who is a surprise No. 3 seed, faces Chattanooga’s Kamaal Shakur in the first round. Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez was named the top seed, and North Carolina State’s Thomas Gantt, who is 24-0, is the No. 2 seed.
Conaway starts his tournament with Central Michigan’s Corey Keener. Conaway could run into Wisconsin’s Ryan Taylor in the second round. Taylor beat Conaway twice in the Big Ten tournament — 10-6 in the quarterfinals and 5-4 for third place. Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett is the top seed.
If McCutcheon gets past first-round opponent Tom Sleigh, of Bucknell, he will likely face top-seeded Gabe Dean, of Cornell. Dean has one loss on the season as he suffered a setback against Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd, who is the No. 8 seed.
Gulibon faces No. 5 Matt Manley, of Missouri. Gulibon could get a rematch with Rutgers’ Anthony Ashnault in the quarterfinals. Gulibon is also on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Dean Heil, of Oklahoma State.
Morelli earned an at-large bid on Monday. He will open the tournament against No. 11 John Staudenmayer, of North Carolina. If he makes it to the quarterfinals, he could face Ohio State’s Bo Jordan, who is the No. 3 seed. The top pound-for-pound wrestler, Alex Dieringer, of Oklahoma State, is the top seed.