Wave of blue hits the ‘Q’ as Penn State takes lead with five finalists

Updated: March 17, 2018

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Even though Quicken Loans Arena sits just 150 miles from the campus of Ohio State and many fans at the 2018 NCAA Division I Championships were adorned in Scarlet and Gray, it was a wave of Penn State blue that overhelmed the semifinal session Friday night.

TeamScores and brackets after Semis

That’s what it looked like as Penn State’s five returning national champs — Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184) — helped the Lions overcome a 16-point deficit to lead Ohio State 120.5-109.5 entering Saturday morning’s All-American round.

The Buckeyes were leading the defending national champs 80.5-67 going into the semifinals, but only two — Myles Martin (184) and heavyweight Kyle Snyder — of Ohio State’s six semifinalist won their bouts.

Entering Saturday morning’s All-American round, both teams still have eight wrestlers alive but all six of the Buckeyes in wrestlebacks must find a way to claim third place at their weight in order to catch Penn State during the final round Saturday night.

There will be only one head-to-head championship match-up between the two schools as Penn State’s Nickal looks to defend his title against Ohio State’s Myles Martin, who beat the Nittany Lion in the 174-pound finals in 2016.

The finals will also conclude with a heavyweight rubber match as two-time champ Kyle Snyder, the World and Olympic champ from Ohio State, will take on Michigan’s Adam Coon, the only collegiate to beat the Buckeye (on Feb. 11) in the past three years.


This year’s semifinals were much like last year’s NCAAs when all five of this year’s finalists eventually won championship bout in St. Louis in 2017.

It was also a night where four freshmen reached the finals, especially at 125 pounds where Rutgers’ rookie Nick Suriano blanked defending champ Darian Cruz, 2-0, while Iowa’s Spencer Lee, pinned Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello. Meanwhile Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis (141) and NC State’s Hayden Hidlay (157) also reached the finals as rookies.

Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finals — which begin at 8 p.m. EDT — also feature a No. 15 seed in Lock Haven’s Ronald Perry at 149 pounds. The senior from Christiana, Pa., who upset Iowa’s No. 2 seed Brandon Sorensen in Thursday night’s second round, knocked off Princeton’s Matt Kolodzik, 5-3, to become the Bald Eagles’ first NCAA finalist since Cary Kolat in 1997.


Pl. School (Finalists/Consolation) Pts
1 Penn State (5/3) 120.5
2 Ohio State (2/6) 109.5
3 Iowa (1/4) 86.5
4 Michigan (2/3) 73.5
5 NC State (2/2) 69.5
6 Missouri (0/4) 51.5
7 Virginia Tech (1/2) 44.5
8 Cornell (1/3) 43
9 Rutgers (1/1) 42.5
10 Arizona State (1/2) 37
10 South Dakota State (1/2) 37


Semifinal Highlights

125 pounds

Nick Suriano (Rutgers) dec. Darian Cruz (Lehigh), 2-0 — Moments after Suriano scored an escape in the second period, the defending champion from Lehigh was penalized for stalling for the only scoring of the night.

In the rubber match between these two Big Ten wrestlers, Iowa freshman Spencer Lee stunned the crowd when he pinned Ohio State senior Nathan Tomasello.

Spencer Lee (Iowa) pinned Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) 6:05 — Just when it looked like Tomasello was rallying from a 4-0 deficit by scoring a takedown and putting Lee in danger, the true freshman from Iowa pushed back against the Buckeye for another takedown and eventually pinned Tomasello near the edge of the mat. Lee opened the bout by scoring a first takedown at the 1:48 mark and caught the Buckeye in a tilt for a two-point nearfall.

133 pounds

Seth Gross (South Dakota State) pinned Tariq Wilson (NC State) 7:18 sv — The Jackrabbit ended the bout in overtime when he fought off a takedown attempt by the Wolfpack and used a hip tilt to eventually flatten the unseeded Wilson. It was Wilson who used two takedowns to lead 4-1 in the first period before Gross scored a reversal and four-point nearfall to take a 7-4 lead. Wilson battled back to score two takedowns in the final 30 seconds to take a 10-9 before Gross’ riding time advantage sent the bout to overtime.

Stevan Micic (Michigan) dec. Luke Pletcher (Ohio State), 8-4 — Moments after the Buckeye tied the match 4-4, the Wolverine scored a takedown and two-point nearfall in the final 20 seconds.

141 pounds

Bryce Meredith (Wyoming) dec. Joey McKenna (Ohio State), 1-0 — The only point in the second period when the Cowboy scored an escape, before the Buckeye chose not to go down against Meredith in the third period and failed to score.

Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) dec. Jaydin Eierman (Missouri) 6-4 sv — Halfway through the sudden victory period, the Big Red freshman executed a double leg for the victory. Diakomihalis also scored a takedown in the first period and eventually led 3-2 before Eierman scored a takedown with 30 seconds left. A Big Red escape forced overtime.

149 pounds

Zain Retherford (Penn State) dec. Troy Heilmann (North Carolina), 10-4 — The two-time defending champ scored three of his four takedowns in the first period to lead 6-2 before adding another in the third frame.

Ronald Perry (Lock Haven) dec. Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton), 5-3 — Perry, the No. 15 seed, became his school’s first NCAA finalist since Cary Kolat in 1997 when he scored a takedown with 10 seconds left. Kolodzik scored the bout’s first takedown to lead 3-2.

157 pounds

Hayden Hidlay (NC State) major dec. Alec Pantaleo (Michigan), 10-2 — Trailing 2-0, the Wolfpack redshirt freshman threw the Wolverine for a six-point move and added a 1:17 riding time advantage for the major decision.

Jason Nolf (Penn State) won by TF over Micah Jordan (Ohio State) 16-0, 4:28 — The defending champ scored his first takedown in the first minute then put the Buckeye on his back multiple times for the technical fall.

165 pounds

Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) dec. Alex Marinelli (Iowa), 5-2 — The two-time champion scored two takedowns; the first at the 2:26 mark in the first, then added a double leg with 38 seconds left in the second.

Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) dec. David McFadden (Virginia Tech), 3-1 — The defending champ scored the bout’s only takedown with seven seconds left in the second.

174 pounds

Zahid Valencia of Arizona State rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat Michigan’s Myles Amine. (Tim Tushla photo)

Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) dec. Myles Amine (Michigan), 7-5 — The Sun Devil fell behind 4-1 before he rallied to tie the match 5-5 late in the second period.

Mark Hall (Penn State) pinned Daniel Lewis (Missouri), 6:22 — Leading 6-2 after two takedowns and a tilt, Hall rolled through a Lewis granby roll and eventually scored the fall.

184 pounds

Bo Nickal (Penn State) dec. Domenic Abounader (Michigan), 6-3 — Nickal scored two first period takedowns for 4-1 lead. Nickal then added 1:41 of riding time for the 6-3 win for his third trip to the finals

Myles Martin (Ohio State) dec. Zachary Zavatsky (Virginia Tech), 8-4 — The Buckeye became Ohio State’s first winner Friday night as he scored three takedowns and added a 1:13 riding time advantage to set up a rematch of the 2016 174-pound final.

197 pounds

Michael Macchiavello (NC State) pinned Kyle Conel (Kent State), 4:19 — The unseeded Golden Flash took a 2-0 lead before the Wolfpacker threw Conel to his back on the edge of the mat;marking the first time in history that NC State had two finalists.

Jared Haught (Virginia Tech) pinned Ben Darmstadt (Cornell), 5:41 — Shortly after the Big Red freshman tied the score 2-2, the Hokie senior countered a Darmstadt shot and turned the move into a fall for himself and set up an all ACC final.


Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) dec. Jacob Kasper (Duke), 10-5 — The Blue Devil actually scored an early takedown before the Olympic/World champ rallied with three takedowns.

Adam Coon (Michigan) dec. Amar Dhesi (Oregon State), 4-2 — After giving up a first period takedown, the Wolverine senior battled back to score the deciding takedown in the final 30 seconds of the bout