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Photo: North Dakota State’s Owen Pentz scored the biggest upset of round one of the 2021 NCAA Division I Championships when he pinned Nebraska’s No. 2 seed Eric Schultz after trailing 2-0 in the second period.
ST. LOUIS, MO. — Every year there are first-round upsets at the annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and that was the case in the opening round of the 2021 nationals in Enterprise Center … as 30 wrestlers beat another who was seeded higher.
But no upset was bigger than 197 pounds where North Dakota State’s Owen Pentz ignored his No. 31 seed and used a roll that reversed Nebraska’s No. 2 seed Eric Schultz and eventually pinned the Cornhusker with nine seconds left on the clock.
Pentz, a true freshman from Morgan, Utah, entered his first national tournament with an 8-4 record. Schultz, who stood 10-2 before this match, hoped to not only earn his first All-American honor but a national championship as senior from Tinley Park, Ill., had been ranked No. 1 in the nation before finishing second at the Big Tens.
After a scoreless first period, Schultz got on the board first with a reversal to open the second period and was riding Pentz, when the NDSU wrestler caught the Husker’s elbows in the roll.
The only other wrestlers seeded in the Top 10 of their weight class, who suffered upsets was Iowa State’s Ian Parker (No. 7 at 141), Stanford’s Jaden Abas (No. 8 at 149) and Missouri’s Jarrett Jacques (No. 7 at 157).
Otherwise most of the top wrestlers and teams lived up to their billing, especially No. 1-ranked Iowa, which saw all 10 Hawkeyes win on Thursday, including four (Spencer Lee, Austin DeSanto, Jaydin Eierman and Michael Kemerer) who won technical falls.
After one session, the Hawkeyes led the field with 19 points, followed by Penn State (17), Missouri (14) while Arizona State and NC State were tied for fifth place with 13 points.
Other note: The first-round meetings between the No. 16 and 17 seeds are supposed to be the closest and eight of those wrestlers, seeded 17, knocked off an opponent just seeded ahead of him.
The second round of the 2021 NCAAs — were are being held with limited fans because of Covid protocol and one year after the pandemic cancelled the 2020 event — will be divided in two separate rounds on Thursday night. The first five weights will compete at 5 p.m. (CDT) and the next five weights will wrestle at 8 p.m.