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Bonus points gives Penn State first-round lead at NCAAs
Photo: Penn State’s Aaron Brooks lifted Lehigh’s A.J. Burkhart en route to scoring a 21-7 major decision in their first-round match at 184 pounds. (Photo by Sam Janicki)
By Mike Finn and Tristan Warner
DETROIT, Mich., — Penn State advanced seven of its nine national qualifiers — and earned bonus points by six of its wrestlers — as the Nittany Lions took a onr-point lead (15.5-14.5) over defending champion Iowa after the first round of the 2022 NCAA Division I Championships.
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Carter Starocci (174), Max Dean (197) and Greg Kerkvliet (Hwt) also scored technical falls, while defending NCAA champs Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141) and Aaron Brooks (184) scored major decisions.
The second-place Hawkeyes advanced eight of its ten national qualifiers to the second round, which begins Thursday night at Little Caesers Arena. Earning bonus points for Iowa were 133-pound Austin DeSanto (technical fall) and 197-pound Jacob Warner (major decision).
Big Ten champion Michigan, which sits third with 12.5 points, also advanced eight of its wrestlers as top-ranked Myles Amine tallied a technical at 184 pounds, while 125-pound Nick Suriano, 174-pound Logan Massa and heavyweight Mason Parris earned major decisions.
Among the biggest surprises saw North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor — a 2021 NCAA champ at 149 pounds — lost his first-round bout to The Citadel’s Dazjon Casto, who scored a third period takedown to force OT before also winning 4-2 in sudden victory.
There were four victories lower-seeded wrestlers, including three who were seeded No. 20 or higher. And two of those first-round setbacks were suffered by wrestlers from Penn State and Iowa.
The Nittany Lions saw #16 Drew Hildebrandt, a 2021 All-American transfer from Central Michigan, lost 4-2 in sudden victory to #17 Anthony Noto of Lock Haven. The Lock Haven freshman, who improved to 30-1 on the season, scored the deciding takedown, a double, with 1:13 left in overtime
Iowa’s Drake Ayala, seeded No. 13, lost 12-9 to No. 20 Fabian Gutierrez of Chattanooga. The Moc used a four-point nearfall to open the second period and take a 7-2 lead before the Hawkeye freshman used a reversal and takedown to pull within 8-6 after two periods.
In a battle of experienced wrestlers, Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona, seeded No. 24, scored a second-period reversal and third-period takedown to beat Purdue’s No. 9 seed Devin Schroder, 4-1
Utah Valley’s All-American Taylor Lamont (fifth in 2021) was seeded No. 21 but Ohio State’s No. 12 Malik Heinselman, 7-2. Lamont scored three takedowns.
Minnesota’s Pat McKee, who lost in the first round of the 2021 NCAAs, but came back to claim third last season, put himself in the similar situation when the No. 8 seeded Gopher, lost 8-5 to Appalachian State’s No. 25 Caleb Smith.
There were two big upsets at this weight, especially when Purdue’s No. 20 Matt Ramos pinned Illinois’ returning All-American Lucas Byrd in 2:27 of their bout. Ramos, who improved his record to 19-8 was lead 2-0 after scoring a takedown with 43 seconds left in the period. Byrd finished fifth in 2021 after the Illini lost in the second round, but came back to win five of six wrestleback.
In the other upset, Virginia’s No. 25 Brian Courtney edged Michigan State’s All-American Rayvon Foley, 4-2. The Cavalier trailed 2-0 entering the third period, but reversed the Spartan to his back for a two-point nearfall in the final 29 seconds.
All top-12 seeded wrestlers advanced with the exception of No. 7 Clay Carlson (SDSU), who was defeated by Frankie Tal Shahar (Northwestern), 4-3. Tal Shahar scored the winning takedown with 19 seconds left.
Going for his fourth All-American honor, #19 Chad Red (Nebraska) rode #14 Dresden Simon (central Michigan) for the entire third period and accumulated 3:48 in riding time to hold on for a 6-5 victory.
Ohio State transfer Quinn Kinner (Rider) used an escape and third period takedown to defeat Dylan D’Emilio (Ohio State) 3-0.
The first three weight classes each featured wrestlers who transferred from the now defunct Old Dominion wrestling program. 2021 All-Americans Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) and Michael McGee (Arizona State) picked up victories at 125 and 133, respectively, while Campbell’s Shannon Hanna was defeated by Columbia’s Matt Kazimir, 5-2, at 141.
A pair of past All-Americans — Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas and Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen — lost in this round after being seeded lower than their opponen.
Thomas, who came back to claim third place in 2021 as a No. 25 seed, was seeded No., 19 and lost 13-10 to Duke’s Josh Finesilver. The final four points came in the final 51 seconds on a takedown and two-point nearfall for the Blue Devil, who trailed 8-7 after two period.
Degen, who claimed seventh place in 2019, lost 10-7 to Oklahoma’s Willie McDougald. Trailing 4-2 after two periods, the Sooner used a reversal, four-point nearfall and takedown to earn the victory.
Two higher-seeded wrestlers who lost were Rutgers’s No. 12 Mike Van Brill, who fell 7-5 to Cleveland State’s Marcus Robinson. Meanwhile, Penn’s Anthony Artalona, seeded No. 18, defeated Cal Poly’s No. 15 Legend Lamer, 3-2. Robinson scored a takedown and two-point nearfall in final 12 seconds for the upset. Artalona scored his bout’s only takedown in the first period.
Penn State’s Beau Bartlett got a scare before rallying to beat Northern Iowa’s Colin Realbuto, 5-4. The Panther led and earned a riding time point before the Nittany Lion scored a takedown with eight seconds left.
The opening round at 157 saw one defending champion — North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor — get upset while three top-10 seeds — #9 Kaleb Young (Iowa), #5 Quincy Monday (Princeton) and #3 Jacori Teemer (Arizona State) — advanced by 3-2 decisions.
A 1:01 riding time advantage by the Tar Heel — who captured the 149-pound title in 2021 before moving up to 157 — helped O’Connor force overtime before Dazion Casto of The Citadel took O’Connor to his back with 1:23 left in sudden victory for the 8-2 decision.
In a battle of Pennsylvania natives at 157, Iowa’s Kaleb Young triumphed over Penn’s Doug Zapf as the only takedown came in the second period by the Hawkeye.
Penn State’s Brady Berge lost 2-1 to Oregon State’s Hunter Willits as the deciding point came of a 1:13 riding time advantage.
Michigan’s No. 8 Will Lewan advanced with a 4-2 sudden victory decision over Missouri’s Jarrett Jacques, scoring the deciding takedown left in the overtime period.
All Top-10 seeds won their first bouts, including No. 1 Evan Wick (Cal Poly) and defending champion and No. 5 seed Shane Griffith (Stanford), while No. 2 Keegan O’Toole (Missouri and No. 4 Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin) scored falls in their opening bouts.
Wick majored fellow Pac-12 wrestler Matt Olguin 11-3 and Griffith dominated Minnesota’s Cael Carlson, 18-2. O’Toole needed just 52 seconds to flatten Michigan State’s Caleb Fish, while the Badger pinned Chattanooga’s Andrew Nicholson in 4:19.
Pitt’s Jake Wentzel, a national runner-up in 2021, also is only seeded No. 10, but the Panther pinned Loch Haven’s Ashton Eyler in 2:56.
Two past All-Americans — Iowa’s Alex Marinelli and Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia — both scored decisions. The No. 3 seeded Hawkeye beat Drexel’s Evan Barczak, 7-2 with takedowns in the first and second period. The Sun Devil, seeded No. 18, beat Northern Iowa’s No. 15 Austin Yant, 6-3, on takedowns in each period.
Another victory by lower-seeded wrestlers saw Virginia’s Justin McCoy beat Columbia’s No. 14 Josh Ogunsanya, 6-1.
The top four seeds all advanced and collected bonus points at 174, as #1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) and #4 Hayden Hidlay (NC State) picked up falls, while #2 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) and #3 Logan Massa won via major decision.
In a wild point scoring fest, returning NCAA semifinalist and #7 seed Ethan Smith (Ohio State) lost 13-12 to Tyler Eischens of Stanford. Smith tied the bout with a takedown in the final 20 seconds, but Eischens escaped with eight ticks on the clock to seal the upset victory.
There were five matches that saw the lower-seeded wrestler win.
Purdue’s #25 Gerrit Nijenhuis topped #8 Michael O’Malley (Drexel) in overtime, setting up a round of 16 matchup against fellow Pennsylvania native #9 Michael Labriola (Nebraska).
Northern Illinois’ #22 Mason Kaufman edged Missouri’s #11 Peyton Mocco, 3-1, as the only takedown by the Husky came with 15 seconds left in the first period.
Also, Northern Iowa’s #18 Lance Runyon pinned Oklahoma’s #15 Anthony Mantanona, in 4:14, after the Sooner led 4-2 after one period.
There were only two matches where the lower-seeded wrestler won: Wyoming’s #21 Tate Samuelson beat Northern Illinois’ #12 Brit Wilson, 5-3; and Minnesota’s #19 Isaiah Salazar beat North Carolina’s Gavin Kane 7-3.
Oklahoma State All-American Dakota Geer was trailing Missouri’s Jeremiah Kent 7-1 early in the second period before the Cowboy rallied to take the Tiger to his back ended the bout with a fall.
Among the Top 4 seeds, #1 Myles Amine of Michigan won by technical fall over Kent State’s Colin McCracken, #2 Aaron Brooks won 21-7 over Lehigh’s AJ Burkhart, # 3 Trent Hidlay (NC State) major Purdue’s Max Lyon, 12-3 and Northern Iowa’s #4 Parker Keckeisen majored Wisconsin’s Chris Weiler, 13-4.
Penn State and Iowa’s 197-pounders advanced with bonus points, as Max Dean (Penn State) earned a tech. fall and Jacob Warner (Iowa) earned a major decision.
The lone top-12 seed to fall was South Dakota State’s #12 Tanner Sloan, who surrendered a takedown in sudden victory to Ohio State’s #21 Gavin Hoffman.
Defending NCAA champ and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson not only won his first-round bout but also scored bonus points with a 25-10 technical fall over Northern Iowa’s Tyler Gordon.
In fact, many of the returning All-Americans scored bonus points as Arizona State’s #2 Cohlton Schultz pinned Hofstra’s Zachary Knighton-Ward, Michigan’s #4 Mason Parris majored Penn’s Ben Goldin and Penn State’s Greg Kerkvliet pinned North Dakota State’s Brandon Metz.