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Penn State Wrestling: NCAA Tournament Session Three Recap

The Nittany Lions' lead was extended after the third session, and they have the most semifinalists of any school with five.

We know, bro. It's rough facing Zain.
We know, bro. It's rough facing Zain.
JP Pierson

And then there were six.

Penn State's lead is bigger, despite fewer wrestlers left alive in the tournament. The Lions have five wrestlers still vying for their respective national titles, with Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal and Morgan McIntosh all winning their quarterfinal matches and headed into tonight's semifnal bouts. Jordan Conaway lost his semifinal, but is still alive in the consolation bracket.

The Nittany Lions are on top or the team race with 68.5 points; Ohio State is second with 54. Iowa has 48.5 points, Oklahoma State has 46, and Missouri has 42.5. No other team has more than 35.

The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes each have four wrestlers into the semifinals; they will face each other at 125 (Tomasello vs Gilman). OK State's Collica faces Iowa's Sorensen to take on Zain (or, if he loses [haha], Michigan's Pantaleo) at 149. McIntosh will face Iowa's Burak tonight, whom he beat at the NCAA finals two weeks ago.

How'd We Get Here

125 - Nico Megaludis

Nico took on Conor Youtsey of Michigan, whom he had beat 10-4 in the dual meet earlier this season. Youtsey had been having a pretty good tourney, upsetting Ok State's Eddie Klimara in the first round; this matchup was closer than many expected, as Youtsey kept it close and fended off a lot of Megaludis' shots. But though the score was close, the outcome was never really in doubt. Nico rode the Wolverine incredibly tough, and Youtsey did absolutely nothing on bottom despite not being dinged for stalling. The first period ended scoreless and Nico escaped quickly to start the second, and got a takedown and rode out the second; he rode out the third, and won 4-0 with a takedown, an escape and a riding time point. There was nothing Youtsey could do--Nico was too tough on top. He'll face American's Terao next, who pinned his quarterfinal opponent.

133 - Jordan Conaway

After a hard fought second round victory, Jordan didn't have enough in his tank to overcome the counters of Oklahoma's Cody Brewer, who entered the NCAA tournament with only two losses on the season. Conaway was the aggressor all match and paid the price, with all of Brewer's non-escape or reversal points coming off of Jordan's shots. He fought all seven minutes, but it wasn't nearly enough, and he went down swinging 7-4. He'll face Mason Beckman of Lehigh tonight, whom he beat 8-2 in the final dual meet of the season.

141 - Jimmy Gulibon

After losing late yesterday, Jimmy started off well on Friday with a solid win over Cal Bakersfield's Nickell; he got taken down early, but a reversal and a very strong ride on top followed his being ridden out during the second to secure a place in the second consolation bout of the third session, winning 4-2 after an escape by Nickell was waived off.

That second match of the session was the killer for Gulibon. He got the first points of the bout, and rode Gross well--if not for giving up a stall point under this year's new rules. But it was getting caught by a take down late, and allowing himself to get turned that killed him--even the secured riding time that he had built up in the second couldn't save him, as the nearfall points were what won Gross the match 10-6. Jimmy's tournament is over, as he missed making All American again.

149 - Zain Retherford

For those of you who've never seen an NCAA tournament in person, in the quarterfinal rounds, they set up eight mats, with the quarters going in the middle four mats, and the consos on the outside four mats. They won't start any of the quarterfinal bouts until they're all ready to go; and Zain was ready before anybody. And, boy, was he ready; he was pacing the side of the mat before the announcement of fifty seconds to go:

Zain was taken down first Thursday night, if you remember. That was not about to happen Friday afternoon. He took Oliver down after dancing around him for roughly thirty seconds, turned him, and got the fall. It was his quickest pin of the tournament, and I really think he was concerned for us Penn State fans; Gulibon had taken the mat adjacent to him shortly after Zain started, and our attention was split. Zain Retherford is nothing if not considerate of the fans, after all.

157 - Jason Nolf

Nolf took on coach's son JoJo Smith in the quarters in a match many had hoped to see in the Dual Meet Championships; Smith was hurt and didn't make the trip, so the matchup took place in New York instead. It wasn't as close as it could have been, or as Smith would have liked, as the refs immediately warned Smith for stalling, right before Nolf got his first takedown of the bout. Smith got out, and that was it for scoring in the first period. Smith quickly escaped in the second to tie it up--but that was the final tie. Another escape was all of the scoring that Smith saw the rest of the match, as Nolf ended the session with an 11-3 major decision behind back points, an escape, and another stall point.

165 - Geno Morelli

In his first bout of the day, Geno took on Duke's Jake Faust, and got the initial takedown. He rode tough in the first, riding out the period and quickly getting an escape in the second to put him up 3-0. The ride made an impression, seemingly, as Faust took neutral to start the third; he got a takedown, but was unable to hold Geno, and the junior escaped and held on to win the bout 5-2; he also had what seemed to be a takedown waived off, so the score could have been even more lopsided in favor of the Lion.

Then, the second round of consolation matches happened during the session. Much like the first match, Morelli scored the first takedown versus Virginia Tech's 14th seeded David McFadden; unlike the earlier bout, though, he wasn't able to hold on for the victory. He was ahead after the first, but McFadden rode incredibly tough during the second period, and turned Morelli for four nearfall--and that was a deficit Geno couldn't overcome. Geno found himself turned again later on in the third, and ended up losing fairly handily, 14-3, to see his season come to an end.

174 - Bo Nickal

In order for Penn State to win their sixth title, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Iowa wrestlers must not do well. In one of the few head to heads so far, Bo Nickal took on Poke Chandler Rogers--and he handled him with ease. He quickly took him down, and even though Rogers tried to peel out for the escape, Bo brought him back to the mat--and got four nearfall out of it. The match was exciting, despite a lackluster second period, and Bo brought the team more bonus points with a 15-4 major decision amidst his newly-anointed All-American status. He'll next face Nathan Jackson, the only person to whom he's lost all season.

197 - Morgan McIntosh

Morgan came out looking a little worse for wear, with his head heavily bandaged much like Nico's after getting banged up in Thursday night's bout. It was no matter. Unlike Thursday's match, the senior came out absolutely on fire, not willing to let Nebraska's Studebaker, whom he had previously beaten twice already this season (both by regular decisions, once in sudden victory) stick around at all.  McIntosh quickly took the Husker down, and to his back; he got nearfall before Studebaker needed injury time, and out of the time Morgan chose down and got a quick escape. After that escape, Morgan got another takedown and four more nearfall; the score was 13-2 after the first period.

What looked like a sure tech fall ended up being a lowly major decision as Morgan only settled for a 16-4 win to head into the semifinals.