There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and Penn State wrestling showing up when it matters in the NCAA tournament. And despite being down to essentially a six-man contingent early on Friday, that mantra certainly held true this year, with PSU clinching the national title about halfway thru session five of the NCAA tournament.
The first half of the session had Nittany Lions fans just sitting back and watching, hoping for some help from a few unlikely sources - and the help came, as returning national champ David Carr beat Michigan’s Will Lewan and Iowa’s Michael Kemerer beat UM’s Logan Massa in the consolation semifinals. Which set up the consi semi between PSU’s Greg Kerkvliet and UM’s Mason Parris as the defacto crowning of the team champs.
And Kerk? Boy, did he impress in the consi semis. After a hard-won takedown early on, the big man (whose action and performance the night before was likely the closest anyone would come to beating Gable Steveson all year) simply pushed Parris away, and then strutted back to the center of the mat to continue the bout. The sophomore wouldn’t be denied, dominating the returning national finalist for the third time this season - and when the bout was over, so was the team race in all but name.
It wasn’t until the fifth place bouts that the title was clinched, when Lewan failed to pin Arizona State’s Jacori Teemer - meaning even if Michigan pinned out the rest of the session and night, and Penn State lost out, the Nittany Lions would still finish the night with more points, and the team title.
The end of the session wasn’t what most PSU fans would’ve hoped (or expected) as Kerk medically forfeited out of the 3rd place bout, finishing his second NCAA tournament in fourth. As of publishing, there’s been no word of the cause of the medical forfeit - especially since the Nittany Lion looked so good earlier in the day.
But the day (and the tournament!) isn’t over! Up next? The pinnacle - the finals of the NCAA tournament. As quality wrestling ambassador JB said:
Today is the day young men become legends. NCAA Finals 2022!— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) March 19, 2022
All five of Penn State’s National Finalists have been here once before, so won’t be put off by the bright lights on the big stage. Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks won their final bouts last year; Dean lost his in 2019, but that was when he wrestled for Cornell. Can Cael Magic* (trademark @bloodround) manifest itself once again?
Check out my mans:
JP held off on inserting tonight’s 5 finalists so it doesn’t jack that insane and quite nice Finals success rate. Just unbelievable.
And yet we believe.
Tonight’s Finals Matchups
125: #1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) vs #3 Patrick Glory (Princeton)
133: #1 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) vs #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)
141: #1 Nick Lee (PSU) vs #15 Kizhan Clarke (UNC)
149: #1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) vs #10 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska)
157: #5 Quincy Monday (Princeton) vs #2 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern)
165: #5 Shane Griffith (Stanford) vs #2 Keegan O’Toole (Missouri)
174: #1 Carter Starocci (PSU) vs #2 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)
184: #1 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs #2 Aaron Brooks (PSU)
197: #1 Max Dean (PSU) vs #6 Jacob Warner (Iowa)
285: #1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs #2 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)