This is it, friends.
Five months ago we started this journey with our Penn State Wrestlers. At 11am ET today, Thursday, March 21st, 2019, the doors of the PPG Paints Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania open for the fans to fill the house. And at Noon, the NCAA turns loose 330 of the country’s best grapplers - 9 of whom are our Lions - to begin a 3-day battle royale to find out who’s the best.
It’s incredibly difficult just to get a spot in the tournament. There are more than 1,200 division 1A wrestlers who would love to be in this thing, but aren’t. They’ve already been cut out over the past 5 months. Over the next 60 hours of fighting, the fortunate 330 will have been reduced to just 10 champs.
There’s no better spectacle in sports. Welcome to Session 1.
WHAT HAPPENS IN SESSION ONE
Three hundred thirty wrestlers - 33 in each of 10 weight classes - begin fighting at Noon. First, 10 “pigtails” get wrestled, followed immediately by the opening round matches. By 4pmET, when this first session (of 6 sessions) ends, we’ll have blown through the 170 fights. Because this is a double-elimination tournament, and each wrestler gets but 1 match in this opening blast of fury, no one gets eliminated in Session One. (But wooooboy, does the hammer drop this afternoon).
Here are your 9 Nittany Lions entered in the tournament, and their first round matchups.
|10-Sportscenter||133||23-Mario Guillen (OHIO)|
|3-Maverick||141||30-Nate Limmex (PUR)|
|12-The Chef||149||21-Kris Olivas (FRES)|
|1-Nolf||157||32-Alex Klucker (LHU)|
|2-Meatball||165||31-Evan Delong (CLAR)|
|1-Marky||174||32-Jake Covaciu (IND)|
|2-Shak||184||31-Kevin Parker (PRIN)|
|1-Bo||197||32-Ethan Laird (RID)|
|2-Tony Bling||285||31-Zach Parker (OHIO)|
You know to cheer the blue and white. But whom should you cheer against? The teams you should actively root against are Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Iowa (i.e., the top 3 challengers, also known as “the basket of deplorables”). No excuses, no refunds, no exceptions. So get excited when they lose matches. Each loss moves PSU one step closer to the big trophy.
What should you do when none of PSU, Okie State, Ohio State, or Iowa are on your screen? Great question. Excellent question. The answer is “Tier 2 Cheering”. Here are your handy rules for “Tier 2 Cheering”.
- Cheer for the PSAC schools. That’s the PA State Athletic Conference - Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven. They’re tiny, under-funded, teacher colleges, who are Division 2 in all sports, except wrestling. Cheer for them.
- Cheer for Army. Do you like America? The land of the free, home of the brave? Good, then cheer for Army. Go Army. Beat Navy. And may the wings of liberty never lose a feather.
- Cheer for PA high schoolers, unless they wrestle for one of the deplorables. Personally, I lump Pitt, Lehigh, and Penn into the basket of deplorables, too. Why wouldn’t you? But in any event, that’s your call. Just trying to help out.
There you go - just 3 simple rules to live by in the wrestling game, friends.
HOW TO WATCH
Great news, friends. ESPN is broadcasting everything. You can watch all 640 individual fights. Morning sessions are on ESPNU. Evening sessions are on ESPN - the big boy pants channel. Plus, all of it - all 8 mats, at the same time - are available via ESPN3, the WatchESPN online channel.
And of course, you’re getting free audio featuring Jeff “Ironhead” Byers via GoPSUSports (scroll down the schedule, and click on the headphones icon of the appropriate session).
GIANT THERMOMETER TRACKER THING
You’ve probably read or heard that Penn State is number one, and is favored to totally annihilate the entire rest of the nation by itself at this tournament. If you’ve come across these rumors, you should believe them. They’re based on proven facts.
But how could we illustrate just how well Penn State is doing at murdering everyone, as we progress along with each Session? The obvious answer was “Giant Thermometer”. You’ve seen them at fund raisers, and along the side of the road, graphically showing progress toward the goal in bright red marker, scaling a glass thermometer. They’re brilliant devices.
Unfortunately, SBNation software does not offer a giant thermometer feature. But it does allow us to insert HTML tables. That’s what we’re presenting below. We’ll track 2019 Penn State’s progress, session by session, against three All-Time squads - 1997 Iowa (team total: 170 points); 2005 Oklahoma State (team total: 153 points); and 2017 Penn State (team total: 146.5 points). Here were their lineups, their Session One records, and total points scored this round. Friends, these are the targets for your 2019 Nittany Lions.
|WEIGHT||1997 IOWA||2005 OKIE STATE||2017 PENN STATE|
It’s time, friends. It’s finally time.
Now, let’s come out of the tunnel, and go pick a fight.