FROM OKLAHOMA STATE ATHLETICS
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Junior Dean Heil advanced to the 141-pound finals of the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year, while eight members of the Oklahoma State wrestling team clinched All-America status Friday at the Scottrade Center.
“I’ve said all along, it gets tougher as you go through each session, and by far this was our best session,” head coach John Smith said. “When you know you’re probably out of the team race, you’ve got to build on your tradition of All-Americans and that’s what these guys did today… The evening you’re looking for in the fourth round of the tournament.”
Oklahoma State’s eight All-Americans tie a school record that’s now been reached seven times in program history; however, it marks the first time since 1990 that eight Cowboys accomplished that feat. No other team in this year’s tournament has more than six All-Americans.
“It’s a credit to these guys because we were in a time in this tournament where we were wondering whether you were going to get three or five or whatever,” Smith said. “It was real important that we recognized we needed to have a great session tonight and that’s what we did.”
The Cowboys added 38.5 team points with their effort in Session IV, bringing their tournament total to 86. That puts them in third place in the team race behind leaders Penn State and Ohio State.
Dean Heil will go for his second NCAA title Saturday night in the 141 pound finals, facing No. 6 seed George DiCamillo of Virginia after a 4-2 decision over Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers in his semifinal match. The Cowboy junior led, 3-0, heading to the final period before Ashnault, choosing the down position, converted on a reversal to cut Heil’s lead to 3-2. Heil would escape and finish off the match to advance.
“I do what I need to win,” Heil said. “It may not be pretty. Gives my fans a heart attack. It makes people not like the way I wrestle. One thing I was told was to not care what anybody thinks about how you wrestle. That’s what I focus on: how I wrestle.”
Cowboys Kaid Brock and Nolan Boyd also reached the semifinal round, but came up short in their bid for the finals.
Brock dropped a 12-3 major decision to second-seeded Seth Gross of South Dakota State at 133 pounds. The Cowboy redshirt freshman will face No. 5 Seven Micic of Michigan in Saturday morning’s consolation semifinals.
Matched up with top-seeded Gabe Dean of Cornell, Boyd was defeated by way of 9-3 decision. He will take on seventh-seeded TJ Dudley of Nebraska in the consolation semis on Saturday.
The Cowboys were spectacular in consolation action during the day’s second session, going 9-1 in wrestlebacks to add five All-Americans to the three clinched in the prior session. Senior Kyle Crutchmer and sophomore Joe Smith both clinched their second All-America honor, while Nick Piccininni, Chandler Rogers and Preston Weigel each secured their first.
Piccininni became OSU’s 35th freshman All-America honoree in a 7-5 decision over Brock Hudkins of Northern Illinois. Piccininni would win again later in the night, notching a 6-4 sudden victory decision over No. 7 Sean Russell of Edinboro to avenge a loss to the Fighting Scot earlier in the season.
Smith turned in a pair of decisions at 157 pounds to clinch his spot in the consolation semis. The sophomore edged out No. 8 Jake Short of Minnesota, 3-2, in his first match of the day to clinch All-American status, but he wasn’t done yet. Smith pulled out in impressive 9-3 win over No. 14 Sal Mastriani of Virginia Tech to set up a consolation semifinal matchup with No. 7 Dylan Palacio of Cornell.
Chandler Rogers kept the Cowboys rolling at 165. Rogers opened the evening with a 10-4 handling of No. 11 Bryce Steiert of Northern Iowa to claim his first All-America recognition. Rogers followed up that impressive performance with a thrilling, 12-11 decision over No. 5 Chad Walsh of Rider. Tied at seven heading to the third period, Rogers opened the final frame on top. After Walsh escaped and was awarded a penalty point to take a 9-7 lead, the Cowboy redshirt sophomore scored a pair of takedowns to take an 11-10 lead with 30 seconds to go. Walsh would escape once more and make a final attack, but after review no takedown was awarded and Rogers came away with the win to advance to face No. 2 Logan Massa of Michigan Saturday morning.
Kyle Crutchmer split his two matches at 174 pounds, but not before claiming his second All-America honor. Crutchmer won a back-and-forth battle in his first match of the night over No. 11 Alex Meyer of Iowa. Tied at two after the first two periods, Crutchmer was able to outscore Meyer, 11-8, over the final frame to lock up the 13-10 decision. The senior would come up just short of the consolation semis in the following round, losing to No. 10 Zac Brunson of Illinois, 8-5. The only wrestler in the field to lose his first match and still clinch All-American status, Crutchmer will have an opportunity to avenge his first loss of the tournament as he takes on SIU-Edwardsville’s Jake Residori in Saturday’s fifth-place match.
“I think it’s been good to see some them who were maybe a bit sloppy early in the tournament kind of bounce back and show some real grit,” Smith said. “Kyle Crutchmer, it was a long day for him coming through the consolations and the guys he had to beat… It was good to see him fight back and give himself an opportunity to win.”
At 197, Weigel outscored his two opponents, 20-3, combined Friday night to capture a spot in the consolation semifinals. Weigel was the eighth Cowboy to seal his All-America accolades with a 5-0 decision over North Carolina’s Danny Chaid. The redshirt sophomore followed it up with perhaps his best match of the weekend thus far, recording a 15-3 major decision over No. 10 Kevin Beazley of Old Dominion in his final match of the evening.
Fans can tune into Saturday’s consolation semifinals and placement matches at 10 a.m. on ESPNU or ESPN3.com. Final matches will be broadcast live on ESPN at 7 p.m.
2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships | St. Louis, Missouri | Scottrade Center | Session Four
Championship Semifinal Round
133: No. 2 Seth Gross (South Dakota State) MD No. 3 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) 12-3
141: No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 5 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers) 4-2
184: No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) dec. No. 4 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State) 9-3
Consolation Round Four
125: No. 8 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. Brock Hudkins (Northern Illinois) 7-5
157: No. 5 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 8 Jake Short (Minnesota) 3-2
165: No. 9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 11 Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa) 10-4
174: No. 7 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 11 Alex Meyer (Iowa) 13-10
197: No. 6 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) dec. Daniel Chaid (North Carolina) 5-0
Consolation Round Five
125: No. 8 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 7 Sean Russell (Edinboro) 6-4 SV1
157: No. 5 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 14 Sal Mastriani (Virginia Tech) 9-3
165: No. 9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 5 Chad Walsh (Rider) 12-11
174: No. 10 Zac Brunson (Illinois) dec. No. 7 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) 8-5
197: No. 6 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) MD No. 10 Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion) 15-3
Championship Finals Schedule (Saturday Night)
141: No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 6 George DiCamillo (Virginia)
Consolation Semifinals Schedule (Saturday Morning)
125: No. 8 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 10 Jack Mueller (Virginia)
133: No. 3 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 5 Stevan Micic (Michigan)
157: No. 5 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 7 Dylan Palacio (Cornell)
165: No. 9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 2 Logan Massa (Michigan)
184: No. 4 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 7 TJ Dudley (Nebraska)
197: No. 6 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 4 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech)
Seventh-Place Match Schedule (Saturday Morning)
174: No. 7 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) vs. Jake Residori (SIUE)