Penn State capped an undefeated season with a rolling victory at NCAAs, bringing home the big boy trophy for the fifth time in the last six years. The Nittany Lions' 25.5 margin of victory was the largest since 2010, as Penn State pushed half of its starting lineup into the finals. Oklahoma State and Ohio State each had two finalists.
Once again, we look at ordered point scorers for each of the top teams, and the differential between Penn State and everyone else. From 1st thru 10th, everyone lost ground, all of the time - with the occasional exceptions noted in green.
Penn State's top performers left cratering holes in the competition at the top end of the lineups. And because 5 Lions made the finals, and a 6th stood high on the podium - those craters only got deeper the further down the lineups you went.
Here's a link tothe final brackets. Let's review the weight classes.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: "Nico's bracket sets up nicely for a run to the championship final." #2 Joey Dance was our pick to finish below seed. #15 David Terao was our sleeper pick to make the podium.
WHAT HAPPENED: Nico ran to the final - and then won the thing with an outstanding match in the final, scoring two takedowns on long-time nemesis #4 Thomas Gilman of Iowa. "Relief" was how Nico described his win, after finishing 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd in his three previous attempts.
BIG SURPRISES: #15 Terao knocked off #2 Dance early. Terao made the semi-finals, and Dance bounced out of the tournament quickly (for the second year in a row). #6 Eddie Klimara (OKST) was sick or injured, and finished (0-2). Tough ending for the senior.
TOP 8: 1-Nico, 2-Gilman, 3-Tomasello (OHST), 4-Terao (AMER), 5-Youtsey (MICH), 6-Peters (UNI), 7-Millhof (OU), 8-Schram (STAN)
ROUND OF 12: #7 Cruz (LEH), #14 Rodriguez (NDSU), #11 Bresser (ORST), #8 McGhee (MIZZ)
NEXT YEAR: Almost everyone returns. Only Nico, Klimara, and Terao graduate. Penn State expects to put top-10 recruit (and unbeaten New Jersey native) Nick Suriano in the lineup at 125. Oklahoma State will put top-10 recruit (and Long Island native) Nick Picinninni in Klimara's spot.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: Jordan had a tough draw, but was good enough to make the podium anyhow. Wisconsin's #12 Bradley Taylor was our sleeper, while Nebraska's #7 Montoya was our lame duck.
WHAT HAPPENED: Jordan beat Taylor in the second round, and nearly knocked off defending champ #4 Cody Brewer in the quarters. He didn't, but wrestled back to finish 6th. Taylor's magic ran out, and he returned to his injured self, falling short of the podium. Montoya proved us wrong, and finished 5th, two spots above his seed.
BIG SURPRISES: Unseeded Jade Rauser (Utah Valley) lost his opener to #2 Cory Clark (Iowa) - and then wrestled all the way back to 8th. Rauser was one of just 5 unseeded wrestlers to make All-American, and one of only three to lose his opener and still finish on the podium.
TOP 8: 1-Garrett (CORN), 2-Clark (Iowa), 3-Brewer (OU), 4-Richards (ILL), 5-Montoya (NEB), 6-Conaway (PSU), 7-Hall (ISU), 8-Rauser (UVU)
ROUND OF 12: UN-Beckman (LEH), #6 DiCamillo (UVA), #11 Forys (PITT), #12 Taylor (WIS)
NEXT YEAR: Garrett, Brewer, Conaway, Hall, Rauser, and Beckman graduate. So we'll get another year of Clark, Richards, Montoya, and Taylor atop the Big Ten. Penn State will slot former top 10 recruit Jered Cortez into that meat-grinder.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: We thought Jimmy could beat #5 Manley in the opener, and had a managable path to reaching the podium, despite being unseeded. As such, Jimmy was our sleeper pick, and Manley was our under-performer.
WHAT HAPPENED: It turns out Manley had a torn ACL, tried to wrestle anyhow, and got bounced from the tournament without mercy. Jimmy made two bad mistakes, and it cost him both times. He made a 6-point mistake against #12 Mecate (ODU) in round 2, and lost 6-0. Then in the consolations, he made a 4-point mistake against unseeded Seth Gross (SDSU), and lost 10-6. When everyone's good, you can't afford mistakes. Tournament over.
BIG SURPRISES: #14 Meredith (WYO) beat #3 Jack (NCST), #6 Jordan (OHST), and #2 McKenna (STAN) on a run to the final. That was pretty big.
TOP 8: 1-Heil (OKST), 2-Meredith (WYO), 3-McKenna (STAN), 4-Ashnault (RUT), 5-Mecate (ODU), 6-Chishko (VATECH), 7-Ward (UNC), 8-Cruz (LEH)
ROUND OF 12: UN-Abidin (NEB), #3 Jack (NCST), UN-Gross (SDSU), #6 Jordan (OHST)
NEXT YEAR: More of the same. Everyone's back, except for Mecate and Abidin. Ohio State's Jordan probably bumps up to 149. But the Buckeyes have a top 10 recruit waiting to take this weight (Ke-Shawn Hayes).
WHAT WE THOUGHT: Zain would wreck the field. Unseeded BJ Clagon could make a run, while #4 Cimato would under-perform.
WHAT HAPPENED: Zain wrecked the field. He bonused everyone, scoring (in order): tech fall, fall, fall, fall, major. He even made Dan Gable smile while whipping an Iowa wrestler in the final. Clagon pulled off an opening upset of #8 Evan Henderson (UNC), but fell in the round of 16. #4 Cimato made the round of 12, but not the podium.
BIG SURPRISES: #11 Collica (OKST) beat #6 Tsirtsis in the second round, and #3 Mayes in the quarters to make the semi-finals, and finished 4th. But that's it. Everyone else was seeded top 12.
TOP 8: 1-Zain, 2-Sorensen (Iowa), 3-Mayes (MIZZ), 4-Collica (OKST), 5-DePalma (KENT), 6-Pantaleo (MICH), 7-Oliver (CMU), 8-Martinez (BSU)
ROUND OF 12: #4 Cimato (DREX), #14 Finesilver (DUKE), #7 Sueflohn (NEB), #16 Lugo (BORO)
NEXT YEAR: More pain (Zain's only a sophomore). DePalma and Sueflohn were the only seniors. Edinboro's Lugo was just a freshman.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: Nolf would rip off arms on his way to the rubber match with Illinois' Isaiah Martinez. Michigan's Brian Murphy would make the podium from his 12-seed, while #7 Cody Pack (SDSU) would fall short.
WHAT HAPPENED: Nolf ripped off arms on his way to the rubber match (going fall, tech, major, tech) - but fell just short in the final, as Martinez used a throw-by in the final 16 seconds to score the winning takedown, and win a classic 6-5. Murphy upset #5 Dylan Palacio (Cornell) in the second round, but fell one win shy of the podium. Pack missed the podium.
BIG SURPRISES: #2 Tommy Gantt (NCST) got upset in the second round by #15 Chad Walsh (Rider). But both made the podium.
TOP 8: 1-Martinez (ILL), 2-Nolf, 3-Brascetta (VATECH), 4-Palacio (CORN), 5-Walsh (RID), 6-Miller (KENT), 7-Smith (OKST), 8-Gantt (NCST)
ROUND OF 12: UN-Berger (NEB), #12 Murphy (MICH), #7 Pack (SDSU), UN-Cottrell (WVU)
NEXT YEAR: Who stays at this weight? Brascetta, Miller, Gantt, and Pack all graduate - but does I-Mar and/or Nolf stay at 157? Tune in next year to find out.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: We were happy for Geno making the tournament, and thought he could pull an upset in his opener. If he did, then there was a chance he could make the podium, but not a great chance. #14 David McFadden (VATECH) was our sleeper pick to make the podium, while we expected #8 Chad Welch (Purdue) to fall short.
WHAT HAPPENED: Geno upset #11 Staudenmayer (UNC) in the opener, but lost in consolation round 3 - two wins short of All-American. The guy who bounced him was #14 McFadden, who did make the podium. #8 Welch fell short.
BIG SURPRISES: None, really. The top 4 seeds finished in order. No unseeded guys made even the round of 12.
TOP 8: 1-Dieringer (OKST), 2-I.Jordan (WIS), 3-B.Jordan (OHST), 4-Lewis (MIZZ), 5-Rodrigues (ILL), 6-McFadden (VT), 7-Wilson (NEB), 8-Perrotti (RUT)
ROUND OF 12: #8 Weatherman (ISU), #12 Brennan (RID), #13 Wilson (STAN), #8 Welch (PUR)
NEXT YEAR: the king ape, Alex Dieringer, graduates. Finally. So do Rodrigues (ILL), Wilson (Neb), Perrotti (RUT), Weatherman (ISU), Brennan (RID), and Welch (PUR). So this weight opens up at the top, and within the conference. Penn State will have another wrestle-off at 165, but most figure it'll be either Nolf (coming up from 157), or top-10 recruit Vincenzo Joseph, who redshirt this season.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: "Bo's wild style - name one other guy who even attempts double-overhook-outside-trip - could lead to a slip and a 4-point hole." #11 Myles Martin (OHST) was our pick to over-perform. #6 Bryce Hammond (CSUB) was our pick to under-perform.
WHAT HAPPENED: Bo made the final, tried the double-overhook-trip, and gave up two points. Then he tried another throw in the second period and gave up 6 points. And he lost the final, 11-9, to...#11 Myles Martin, whom he'd beaten three times this season. #6 Hammond didn't make the podium.
BIG SURPRISES: #11 Martin - a true freshman, by the way. Also a quick shout out to #8 Zach Epperly, who pulled off the "John Lange" special - lose your opener, and then wrestle all the way back to 3rd place (7 straight wins). Epperly's opponent in that 3rd place match? UPenn's unseeded Casey Kent, who beat him in the opener.
Beyond that, #2 Realbuto injured his knee and went (0-2). And by the quarterfinals, here are the seeded wrestlers who were still alive: #1, #7, #9, #11, and #12. That's it. 174 was a car wreck of a bracket this year.
TOP 8: 1-Martin (OHST), 2-Nickal, 3-Epperly (VT), 4-Kent (UPENN), 5-Jackson (IND), 6-Weatherspoon (ISU), 7-Walters (Ohio), 8-Meyer (Iowa)
ROUND OF 12: UN-Bernstein (NAVY), #9-Rogers (OKST), #3-Butler (MIZZ), UN-Reed (OU)
NEXT YEAR: Kent, Walters, and Butler graduate. Everyone else dives back into the mosh pit.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: The season full of injuries would be too much for Mouse to overcome at NCAAs, particularly in a loaded bracket that featured 10 returning All-Americans. #13 Pete Renda (NCST) was our pick to make the podium from below seed, while #2 Brooks was our pick to falter.
WHAT HAPPENED: Mouse had a bad tournament, going 0-2. I'm sure the injuries played a role, even if Mouse wouldn't use them as an excuse. Renda made the semi-finals. Brooks fell in the quarters, but made the podium in 8th place.
BIG SURPRISES: Renda, plus Tim Dudley (NEB) making the final - which was assisted by the 3-seed Vic Avery (BORO) losing his opener, and the 6-seed Blake Stauffer (ASU) getting bounced in the second round. That quarter produced 14-seed Willie Miklus (MIZZ) as Dudley's semi-final opponent.
TOP 8: 1-Dean (CORN), 2-Dudley (NEB), 3-Renda (NCST), 4-Boyd (OKST), 5-Miller (NAVY), 6-Miklus (MIZZ), 7-Brown (LEH), 8-Brooks (Iowa)
ROUND OF 12: #5 Zavatsky (VATECH), 6-Stauffer (ASU), 4-Abounader (MICH), 11-Thomas (UPenn)
NEXT YEAR: Things clear out a bit - but only a bit. Miller, Brown, Stauffer, and Thomas are gone. But everyone else is back. A healthy Mouse can make the podium - but staying healthy is the key. He's 0-2 on that count so far.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: We thought Morg was wrestling as well as he ever had, and that the top-5 at this weight were certifiable. #10 Max Huntley (MICH) was seeded a little low, and we should keep an eye on unseeded Patrick Downey (ISU) as sleepers. #7 Brett Harner (Princeton) was our pick to miss the podium.
WHAT HAPPENED: the top 4 seeds finished in order. Morg was tied 1-1 in the 3rd period of the final vs. #2 J'Den Cox (MIZZ) - but it was Cox who scored the winning takedown instead of Morg. And that stunk. Huntley got disqualified in the wrestlebacks and didn't make the podium, but unseeded Downey did, and so did Harner.
BIG SURPRISES: Downey, Iowa State.
TOP 8: 1-Cox (MIZZ), 2-Morg, 3-Pfarr (MINN), 4-Burak (Iowa), 5-Downey (ISU), 6-Haught (VATECH), 7-Hartmann (DUKE), 8-Harner (PRIN)
ROUND OF 12: UN-Wolfe (RID), #8-Studebaker (NEB), UN-Weigel (OKST), UN-Scott (NIU)
NEXT YEAR: It's split. Cox, Pfarr, Haught, and Harner return, as does some of the round of 12 guys. But Penn State and Iowa both need to replace All-Americans. Neither has a for-certain answer there just yet.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: We were already looking forward to next season for Nick Nevills - and still are. Gwiz and Snyder were the clear top dogs, and figured to put on a terrific fight in the finals. #16 Nathan Butler (Stanford) was our sleeper pick, while #6 Denzel Dejournette (APST) was our choice to fall short, since this weight is pretty hard on undersized heavies who don't have world-class neutral offense like Kyle Snyder.
WHAT HAPPENED: Snyder beat Gwiz in overtime, in an instant classic. Butler wrestled to-seed, but not above. Dejournette got bounced early.
BIG SURPRISES: None.
TOP 8: 1-Snyder (OHST), 2-Gwiazdowski (NCST), 3-Coon (MICH), 4-Walz (VATECH), 5-Dhesi (ORST), 6-Marsden (OKST), 7-Kroells (MINN), 8-Wessell (LEH)
ROUND OF 12: #15 Harms (WYO), #12 Smith (RUT), UN-Hall (ASU), UN-Black (ILL)
NEXT YEAR: Gwiz, Marsden, Wessell, Harms, and Smith graduate. And the big question to debate is this: if Kyle Snyder wins a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics (he's the defending world champ, by the way), does he stay in college, or does he take the $250k in endorsements and go "pro"? What would you do as a 20-year old?
RETURNING POINTS BY TEAM
How many points return? Glad you asked. Here's the top couple:
- Ohio State: 83
- Penn State: 73
- Missouri: 71
- Virginia Tech: 69.5
- Iowa: 68.5
2017 LINE-UP GUESSES
|125||#10 Suriano||#2 Tomasello||#1 Gilman||#8 Picininni||#9 McGhee||#3 Dance|
|133||#6 Cortez||#20 Pletcher||#1 Clark||#8 Brock||#20 Synon||#20 Norstrem|
|141||#20 Gulibon||#12 Hayes||UN Carton||#1 Heil||#8 Manley||#20 Gustafson|
|149||#1 Retherford||#12 M.Jordan||#2 Sorensen||#3 Collica||#3 Mayes||#5 Chishko|
|157||#2 Nolf||#20 Ryan||#10 Kemerer||#5 Smith||#12 Lavallee||#20 Mastriani|
|165||#12 Joseph||#2 B.Jordan||#10 Marinelli||#20 Marsteller||#3 Lewis||#7 McFadden|
|174||#2 Nickal||#1 Martin||#6 Meyer||#9 Rogers||UN Miklus||#3 Epperly|
|184||#16 McCutcheon||UN Fox||#6 Brooks||#5 Boyd||#5 Miklus||#10 Zavatsky|
|197||UN Cassar||UN Moore||UN Holloway||#10 Weigel||#1 Cox||#4 Haught|
|285||#15 Nevills||#1 Snyder||#8 Stoll||UN Marsden||UN Mancuso||#3 Walz|
The "rankings" are a mostly uneducated guess. But...yeah. Next year looks like another battle, between some really talented teams.
We can't wait.
ONE MORE THING
Here's the list of point scorers by home state:
Forty of 50 US States, plus Canada, are represented among the 247 wrestlers who won at least 1 match at nationals.