There is no truth to the rumor that the championship round of the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Tournament has been canceled due to lack of competition for powerhouse Penn State.
But even if the Nittany Lions pack up and head home from St. Louis before the finals, they would do so carrying their sixth championship trophy in the last seven years.
Saturday afternoon, fifth-seeded PSU heavyweight Nick Nevills beat fourth-seeded Jacob Kasper of Duke 4-3 in sudden victory. Nevills grabbed fifth place in his class with the win, and in doing so clinched the team title for Cael Sanderson’s program.
The Lions have 122 points heading into Saturday night’s finals, where five Penn State wrestlers will be contending for national championships.
Ohio State has 106 points and Oklahoma State 99. But they have only two and one wrestlers in the finals, respectively, so Penn State cannot be caught.
Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes topped PSU for the Big Ten title in Bloomington, Ind., two weeks ago.
Wrestling for NCAA gold Saturday will be Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184). Retherford and Nolf are undefeated No. 1 seeds and heavy favorites.
Joseph and Hall, both freshmen, will be looking to pull off upsets. And second-seeded Nickal is in what ought to be a great match with No. 1 seed Gabe Dean of Cornell.
Amazingly, PSU is pulling this off despite the fact that third-seeded 125-pounder Nick Suriano has been unable to wrestle due to injury and the team did not qualify a wrestler at 133 pounds.
At 141 pounds, veteran Jimmy Guilibon did not place. The same went for 197-pounder Matt McCutcheon.
Saturday night's championship matches can be seen on ESPN with the action starting at 8 p.m.
the Nittany Lions now own seven NCAA team crowns (1953, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017).
NITTANY LIONS IN FINALS
149: No. 1 Zain Retherford (Jr.) vs. No. 3 Lavion Mayes, Missouri
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf (Soph.) vs. No. 3 Joey Lavallee, Missouri
165: No. 3 Vincenzo Joseph (Fr.) vs. No. 1 Isaiah Martinez, Illinois
174: No. 5 Mark Hall (Fr.) vs. No. 3 Bo Jordan, Ohio State
184: No. 2 Bo Nickal (Soph.) vs. No. 1 Gabe Dean, Cornell
TEAM SCORES HEADING INTO FINALS
1: Penn State – 122.0
2: Ohio State – 106.0
3: Oklahoma State – 99.0
4: Iowa – 93.0
5: Missouri – 82.5