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Penn State caps off team championship with five individual titles
Photo: Penn State captured its ninth team title in the past 11 NCAA tournaments Saturday night in Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena. (John Sachs photo)
By Mike Finn
DETROIT, Mich. — Penn State put an exclamation point on it latest team championship by seeing all five of its finalists win championships in the 2022 NCAA Division I Championships in Little Caesars Arena.
The Nittany Lions had already wrapped up its first title since 2019 and ninth in the past 11 national tournaments before Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (184) defended their titles from 2021 before Cornell-transfer Max Dean ended the night by winning his first championship at 197 pounds.
Penn State’s five champions ties the NCAA record, held by Iowa (1986 and ’97), Oklahoma State (2005) and another Nittany Lion team (2017) to score 131.5 pounds. PSU’s total also included a sixth All-American in Greg Kerkvliet (4th at Hwt).
Big Ten champ Michigan settled for second place in its 100th year of wrestling as Nick Suriano (125) captured his first title for the Wolverines and second overall. (The senior also won at 133 pounds in 2019).
The remaining Top-5 programs were defending champ Iowa (74), Arizona State (66.5), and Nebraska (59.5)
There were two other wrestlers who also won multiple championships. One was Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who captured a third and first since 2019. (He redshirted during the 2019-2020 season when the NCAAs were cancelled and the Ivy League cancelled wrestling in 2021.)
The other defending champ who won was Minnesota’s Gable Steveson, who won both an NCAA and Olympic in 2021, ended his career with a championship at heavyweight, then celebrated by doing a backflip and left his shoes at the center of the mat.
2022 NCAA Championship Highlights
#1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) dec. #3 Pat Glory (Princeton), 5-3 — The Wolverine collected his second NCAA title by scoring a takedown in the first period, then opened the second period with a reversal to lead 4-0. The Tiger and also a native of New Jersey battled back to within 4-3 off two stall penalties and one caution against Suriano, who made it 5-3 on an escape in the third period.
#1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) dec. #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), 3-2 — In a rematch of the 2021 NCAA final, the Nittany Lion won again by scoring the bout’s only takedown midway through the first period. This marked the third straight NCAA runner-up position for Fix; others coming in 2019 (to 2022 NCAA champ Nick Suriano, then with Rutgers) and ’21. The Nittany Lion ended the year 22-0.
#1 Nick Lee (Penn State) vs #15 Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina), 10-3 — The Tar Heel surprised many when he jumped out with a takedown in the first five seconds before the defending national champ stormed back with a takedown in each period and built up a 4:30 riding time advantage.
#1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) dec. #10 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska), 11-5 — In winning a third NCAA championship — the first since 2019 before redshirting in 2020 and forced to miss the 2021 NCAAs — the Big Red junior put on a takedown clinic in beating the Husker for a second time this season. The two met in Las Vegas in December when the Cornell wrestler won in sudden victory., Diakomihalis scored five takedowns – two in each the first and second period and added another in the third period. Diakomihalis has now won 75 straight collegiate matches and became the 50th all-time wrestler in NCAA history to earn three national titles.
#2 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) dec. #5 Quincy Monday (Princeton) 9-2 — With the match tied 2-2 entering the third period, Monday chose neutral rather than going down. The senior from Colorado scored six points off a neutral danger takedown and four-point near fall as the Wildcat stacked Monday on his back. Deakin’s final point came off a 1:15 riding time advantage. In winning his first championship, Deakin became the Big Ten school’s first national champ since Jason Tsirtsis (149) in 2014.
#2 Keegan O’Toole (Missouri) dec. #5 Shane Griffith (Stanford) 6-5 — With the match tied 4-4 going into the third period, the Tiger chose neutral in the final frame and then scored the deciding takedown with 1:13 left in the match for his first national championship. Griffith, the defending champ, scored the first points of the match on a takedown with 1:14 left in the first, then took a 4-2 lead on a second takedown with 1:21 left in the second … before O’Toole scored a reversal with 49 seconds left in the second. O’Toole’s championship is the first in Missouri school history since J’den Cox won his third title in 2017.
#1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. #2 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) 5-5 tb — In a battle between two NCAA champions, a 15-second riding time advantage by the Nittany Lion provided the winning margin for Penn State freshman who also won a title in 2021. Trailing 1-0 in the second period, the Hokie (who won an NCAA title at 165 in 2019), scored a takedown with 1:38 left in the second. After the two swapped escapes, Starocci scored his only takedown with 1:20 left in the match.
#2 Aaron Brooks (Penn State) dec. #1 Myles Amine (Michigan) 5-3 — The Nittany Lion avenged a Big Ten final loss and captured his second NCAA championship simply by controlling the five-time Wolverine All-American with a 3:26 riding time advantage. In compiling that control, Brooks scored his only takedown with 1:09 left, the rode Amine for the rest of the first period and all of the second frame. Brooks then opened the third period with a reversal and led 4-0 until Amine scored an escape with 1:09 left. The Wolverine finally scored a takedown with eight seconds left.
#1 Pat Dean (Penn State) dec #6 Jacob Warner (Iowa), 3-2 — Three years after Dean finished second nationally as a Cornell wrestler, the current Nittany Lion captured his first championship on the strength of a takedown with 34 seconds left.
#1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. #2 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State) 6-2 — The two-time NCAA champ capped of the 2022 Nationals and his career by scoring both of his takedowns against the Sun Devil the first period and added a 1:14 riding time advantage. Following the match, the Gopher lived up to his hype when he executed the back flip he did in last year’s NCAAs and Olympics, then left his shoes at the center of the mat as he awaits his next career in the WWE.