Zacherl Knocked Out of NCAA D-I Wrestling Tournament’ Penn State Has Five Wrestling for Titles


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Clarion wrestling team concluded its week at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Friday, as Brock Zacherl fell in a pair of matches at Quicken Loans Arena.

(Photo of Brock Zacherl. Photo courtesy of Clarion University Athletics)

Zacherl came just one win shy of an All-American nod but capped a great season nonetheless. He finishes the year with a 29-3 overall record and 113 career wins with one season of eligibility remaining. Likewise, the Golden Eagles as a team excelled this year, sending four NCAA qualifiers to the Big Dance for the first time since 2012. Perhaps most encouraging is that three of Clarion’s four qualifiers from this year return next year, with two – Taylor Ortz and Greg Bulsak – having three remaining years of eligibility.

The day began with a quarterfinal match against Jaydin Eierman of Missouri, who entered the weekend as the second seed in the bracket. Eierman caught Zacherl in a cradle in the first period, bringing him down for the win by fall. In the consolation match in the evening, North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack defeated Zacherl by a score of 17-2.

PENN STATE HAS FIVE WRESTLING FOR TITLES

The Penn State Nittany Lions (14-0, 9-0 B1G) will have five wrestlers, all returning National Champions, competing in Saturday night’s NCAA National Finals. The Nittany Lions were a perfect 5-0 in the national semifinals this evening, picked up three more All-Americans to up their total to eight and overtook Ohio State in the team title race.

The Nittany Lions hold a slim lead in the team race. Penn State roared to the lead with 120.5 points while Ohio State is close behind in second place with 109.5. Penn State will have eight All-Americans in action tomorrow, Ohio State will have eight. Iowa is in third with 86.5. Head coach Cael Sanderson’s squad is looking to win its seventh NCAA title in the last eight years in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

Senior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 149, faced off against No. 4 Troy Heilmann of North Carolina the first of five Penn State semifinal bouts. Retherford took Heilmann down off the opening whistle, cut him loose and quickly took him down again to lead 4-1 midway through the opening period. He added one more takedown and led 6-2 with 1:37 in riding time after one. Retherford escaped to a 7-2 lead to start the second period and gave up a penalty point on his way to a 7-3 lead with 1:33 in riding time after two. The Lion senior tacked on a riding time point and moved his way into the national finals with 10-4 win.

Junior Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 157, met No. 7 Micah Jordan of Ohio State in his semifinal match-up. The Loin junior notched the first takedown a minute into the bout and then proceeded to turn Jordan to his back twice for two four-point near fall turns. The offensive flurry gave the Lion a 10-0 lead after one period. Nolf quickly took Jordan down in the second period and turned him to his back one more time. The final four-point near fall gave the Lion junior a 16-0 technical fall at the 4:28 mark. Nolf will wrestle in his third straight NCAA final tomorrow night.

Sophomore Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 165, took on No. 2 David McFadden of Virginia Tech in the semifinals. The duo battled through a scoreless first period. Joseph chose down to start the second stanza, quickly escaped and nearly scored on a scramble out of bounds. Up 1-0 with :06 left in the period, Joseph deftly took McFadden down to lead 3-0 after two periods. After McFadden escaped to start the third period and Joseph controlled the rest of the period on his feet, keeping the Hokie from scoring. Joseph posted the 3-1 win and moves to his second straight national finals tomorrow night.

Sophomore Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Utah), the No. 2 seed at 174, faced off against No. 3 Daniel Lewis of Missouri in another Nittany Lion semifinal bout. Hall fought off a solid early scoring effort by Lewis and then worked his way around the Tiger grappler, taking him down at the 1:03 mark to lead 2-1 in the first period. The Lion sophomore led 2-1 with :32 in riding time after one. Hall exploded in the second period, taking Lewis down and turning him to his back for two near fall points to lead 6-2 with over 1:00 in riding time heading into the final period. Hall chose neutral to start the third period and ended it early, taking Lewis down and pinning in at the 6:22 mark. The win, including important bonus points, moves Hall into the national finals.

Junior Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 1 seed at 184, met No. 5 Domenic Abounader of Michigan in the last of five straight Penn State semifinals. Nickal was dominant on offense to start the match, controlling action from his feet and taking Abounader down twice in the opening period. Leading 4-2 with over 1:00 in riding time, Nickal chose down to start the second and quickly escaped to a 5-2 lead. He carried that margin into the third period. Abounader managed an escape but not before Nickal had built up well over 1:00 in riding time. Nickal’s 1:41 in time added a point and the Lion junior posted the 6-3 win, moving to his third straight national title bout.

True freshman Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.), the No. 8 seed at 141, took on No. 12 Tyler Smith of Bucknell in the round of 12, one win away from becoming a freshman All-American. Lee bolted out to a 6-1 lead with two takedowns and two near fall points. The Lion worked riding time in the second stanza and led 8-5 with 2:59 in riding time after two periods. Lee extended his lead in the third period and walked away with a dominating 13-6 decision with over 3:00 in riding time. The win makes Lee an All-American. He then took on SaDarian Perry of Eastern Michigan in the consolation quarterfinals. He worked his way through a furious first period to lead 5-3 as the duo traded offense. Lee chose down to start the second period and, after a bit of work, reversed Perry to up his lead to 7-3 with 1:00 on the clock. Lee carried that lead into the third period and went on to roll to a 12-4 major with 2:49 riding time. Earning bonus points in the process, Lee is still alive for third place and will continue his quest tomorrow morning in the consolation semifinals.

Junior Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.), the No. 5 seed at 197, met No. 7 Frank Mattiace of Penn in the round of 12, looking to become a first time All-American. Rasheed controlled the action in the first period, notching two takedowns to lead 4-2 with :46 in riding time after one. Mattiace picked up a quick escape in the second period but Rasheed countered with a takedown in the period’s final second. Leading 6-3, he took down to start the third period. Mattiace picked up two near fall points in the period but Rasheed’s early offense was enough for the Lion junior to post a 6-5 win and earn his first All-America honor. In the consolation quarterfinals, Rasheed met No. 1 Kollin Moore. Moore notched two quick takedowns to lead 4-2 early in the bout. Moore extended that lead to 6-4 in the second and held off Rasheed’s late offensive pressure. With 1:19 in riding time, Moore downed Rasheed 7-4. Rasheed, now an All-American for the first time, will wrestle for seventh place tomorrow.

Junior Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), the No. 3 seed at 285, faced off against Jere Heino of Campbell in the blood round, looking to become a two-time All-American with a win. Nevills controlled the action from start to finish, notching early takedowns and a near fall to up lead 6-1 early. The Lion carried that lead deep into the third period made his early offensive flurry stand, posting the 6-1 decision and becoming a two-time All-American. He took on No. 5 Sam Stoll of Iowa in the consolation quarterfinals. Nevills came out looking to score early, but Stoll fought off every Nevills shot. With the bout tied 0-0, Stoll chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. Nevills returned the favor to start the third period and the bout moved into the final minute tied 1-1. The bout moved to a sudden victory overtime period and Stoll ended it with a quick takedown to post the 3-1 victory. Nevills will now wrestle for seventh place tomorrow morning.

Senior Corey Keener (Schuylkill Haven, Pa.), unseeded at 133, bowed out of the tournament during session three with a 1-2 record, ending his Penn State season with a 17-10 record and as a four-time NCAA qualifier.

Penn State went 9-2 in session four, grabbing 5.5 more bonus points a pin (Hall), a tech fall (Nolf) and a major (Lee). The Nittany Lions are 32-7 overall with 23.5 bonus points off seven majors, five techs and three pins. Retherford now has 18 NCAA tournament wins as a Nittany Lion, tied for second all-time at Penn State. He now has 125 career wins, seventh all-time, and is the school’s 10th four-time All-American. Nolf and Nickal became Penn State’s 27th and 28th three-time All-Americans earlier today. Nevills became a two-time All-American tonight and both Lee and Rasheed earned their first All-America honors. Penn State’s haul of eight total All-Americans this year moves the school’s all-time All-American total to 214, 51 in Sanderson’s eight years.

Day three of the 2018 NCAA Championship will begin with session five’s medal rounds, beginning tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Quicken Loans Arena. The fifth session features all placing bouts for every weight as places three through eight will be determined. The NCAA Championship Finals begin at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. Fans not in the Q can watch session five live on ESPN, with all mats beings streamed separately live on ESPN3. The 2018 NCAA Championships is a three day event that runs through Saturday, March 17.


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