Two No. 1 seeds go down in semis; Pitt sends two to the finals

Updated: March 19, 2021

Photo: Pitt’s Jake Wentzel applies a tough ride in beating Ohio State’s Ethan Smith in one of the 165-pound semifinals. (John Sachs photo)

By Mike Finn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The last time the NCAA Div. I National Championships were held before the 2021 event in the Enterprise Center was two years ago in Pittsburgh, where the home team hoped to make history.

Instead, the 2021 Panthers under coach Keith Gavin — and the last a Panther to win a national title — made this year’s tournament even more memorable as Pitt’s Jake Wentzel (165) and Nino Bonaccorsi (197) marked the first time since 1963 that the ACC school qualified more than one wrestler for the finals.

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Saturday evening’s championship matches, which begins at 6 p.m. (CDT) will feature six wrestlers who are seeded No. 1, including three Iowa Hawkeyes: Spencer Lee (125), Jaydin Eierman (141) and Michael Kemerer (174). The other seeded wrestlers to reach the finals are Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix (133), Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso (149) and Minnesota’s Gable Steveson (Hwt).

Unfortunately, there were two more No. 1 seeds who lost in Friday’s finals: Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin lost by fall at 157 pounds to Rider’s Jesse Dellavecchia, who becomes his school’s first finalist; and Michigan’s Myles Amine, who lost to Oklahoma State’s true freshman A.J. Ferrari.

Action resumes Saturday morning as the remaining All-American finishes are finalized. That will play a big part in deciding the team race with 109 points as first-place Iowa also has four in the wrestlebacks. Penn State, second with four finalists and two in the wrestlebacks.


2021 NCAA Division I Finalists

125 pounds — #1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs. #3 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State)

133 pounds — #1 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) vs. #2 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)

141 pounds — #1 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) vs. #2 Nick Lee (Penn State)

149 pounds — #1 Sammy Sasson (Ohio State) vs. #2 Austin O’Connor (North Carolina)

157 pounds — #4 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider) vs. #3 David Carr (Iowa State)

165 pounds — #8 Shane Griffith (Stanford) vs. #3 Jake Wentzel (Pitt)

174 pounds — #1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs. #3 Carter Starocci (Penn State)

184 pounds — #1 Aaron Brooks (Penn State) vs. #2 Trent Hidlay (NC State)

197 pounds — #4 A.J. Ferrari (Oklahoma State) vs. #6 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt)

Heavyweight — #1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs. #2 Mason Parris (Michigan)


Top 15 Scores

Rk Team (Finalists/AA) Points
1. Iowa (3/7) 109
2. Penn State (4/6) 94.5
3. Oklahoma State (2/5) 88.5
4. Arizona State (1/5) 67
5. Michigan (1/3) 58.5
6. Missouri (0/3) 56.5
6. NC State (1/4) 56.6
8. Minnesota (1/3) 55.5
9. Ohio State (1/2) 45.5
10. Pitt (2/2) 40.5


2021 NCAA Div. I Semifinal Highlights

125 pounds

#1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) major dec. #4 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan), 11-0 — The Hawkeye jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first period after Lee scored a takedown and used his typical tilt to score a four-point nearfall. He clinched another bonus point win on a takedown with 11 seconds left.

#3 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State) dec.  #7 Taylor Lamont (Utah Valley), 2-1 tb — After the Sun Devil rode out Lamont during the first phase of the tiebreaker, the Wolverine immediately gave up an escape to Courtney in the second phase but could not score.

133 pounds

Daton Fix of Oklahoma State, the 2019 NCAA runner-up returned to the national finals after beating Iowa’s Austin DeSanto. (John Sachs photo)

#1 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) dec. #4 Austin DeSanto (Iowa), 3-2 — The Cowboy scored the bout’s only takedown a minute into the match before the two exchanged escapes the rest of the bout.

#2 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) #3 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech), 5-3 — The Nittany Lion scored takedowns in the first and third period and also added a riding time advantage.

141 pounds

#1 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) pinned  #4 Tariq Wilson (NC State), 2:59 — The Hawkeye came out on top, literally, in a scramble in the final seconds of the first period before the official slapped the mat with one second remaining in the period. It marked Eierman’s second straight pin and third bonus-point victory.

#2 Nick Lee (Penn State) dec. #3 Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers) 9-3 — Lee actually led 2-0 after one period before the Nittany Lion exploded for four points in the second frame, including a takedown with 45 seconds left, and four more points in the third, which included a two-poinut nearfall with 19 seconds left.

149 pounds

#1 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) pinned #4 Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State), 4:01 — The Buckeye had just broken a 2-2 deadlock with 1:11 left in the second period, when he caught the Cowboy in a reverse cradle for the fall

#2 Austin O’Connor (North Carolina) dec. #3 Brock Mauller (Missouri) 2-1 tb — The Tar Heel became his school’s first finalist since 1996 when he rode out the Tiger for the second half of the tiebreaker.

157 pounds

#4 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider) pinned #1 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern), 3:18 – The Bronco became his school’s first national finalist when he ended a scoreless match by rolling the Wildcat up on his shoulders for the fall.  The officials twice reviewed the hold before eventually raising Dellavecchia’s hand.

#3 David Carr (Iowa State) dec. #2 Hayden Hidlay (NC State), 6-4 — The Cyclone scored a takedown with 25 seconds left in the first period and another with 48 seconds left in the match and held off a late charge to Hidlay who tallied an reversal and earned a penalty point in the final 36 seconds.

165 pounds

#8 Shane Griffith (Stanford) dec. #5 Zach Hartman (Bucknell), 9-2 — The Cardinal clinched his first final when took Hartman down with 29 seconds left and put him on his back for a four-point nearfall 20 seconds later.

#3 Jake Wentzel (Pitt) dec. #7 Ethan Smith (Ohio State) — Trailing 2-1 after one period, the Panther first rode Smith the entire second period before scoring a reversal to open the third and added another point for riding time.

174 pounds

Iowa’s Michael Kemerer reached his first NCAA final with an 8-1 win over Cal Poly’s Bernie Truax. (John Sachs photo)

#1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) dec. #12 Bernie Truax (Cal Poly), 8-1 — The Hawkeye scored two of his takedowns and built up nearly two minutes of riding time in that frame before adding another takedown with 11 seconds left in the bout.

#3 Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. #2 Demertrius Romero (Utah Valley), 2-0 — The redshirt freshman picked up his points on second-period escape and another for riding the Wolverine the entire third period.

184 pounds

#1 Aaron Brooks (Iowa) dec. #4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa), 6-4The Panther scored a takedown in both the first and second periods and led 5-1 before the Panther cut the margin to 5-4 on an escape and takedown in the final 1:32.

#2 Trent Hidlay (NC State) dec. #6 John Poznanski (Rutgers) 2-1 tb — After earning an escape point in the first half of the tiebreaker phase, the Wolfpack sophomore rode out the Poznanski for his first NCAA final.

197 pounds

#4 A.J. Ferrari (Oklahoma State) dec. #1 Myles Amine (Michigan), 5-1 – The true freshman scored the bout’s only takedown with 1:15 left in the first but more importantly rode out the top-ranked Wolverine for a riding time point and victory.

#6 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) dec. #26 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) — The Panther scored a takedown with 1:09 left in the first before riding out Woodley the entire second period; marking the first time since 1963 that Pitt had two NCAA finalists.


#1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) major dec. #5 Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa), 16-6 — The Gopher scored seven takedowns — two in the first and second, and three in the third — for the dominating win.

#2 Mason Parris (Michigan) pinned #6 Gannon Gremmels (Iowa State) 4:02 — The Wolverine earned rematch of the Big Ten final when his third takedown also put the Cyclone on his back for the fall.