Ohio State Finishes Second to Penn State At the NCAA Wrestling Championship For The Second Year In A Row

By Andy Vance on March 17, 2018 at 11:46 pm
National Runners Up

Ohio State had a chance to win the NCAA Wrestling Championship, even after dropping four of six semifinal matches Friday night and going .500 in placement-round matches Saturday.

Coming into the championship round Saturday night, the Buckeyes led in the team standings, but needed to win both their matches and see one of Penn State's first four finalists to lose because the Nittany Lions advanced five wrestlers to the final round.

1 PENN STATE 141.5
2 OHIO STATE 133.5
3 IOWA 97.0
4 NC STATE 80.0

Zain Retherford, as expected, won his third NCAA title at 149 pounds, pulling the Nittany Lions within two points of the Buckeyes. In the next match, Jason Nolf gave his team the lead.

Isaiah Martinez, the two-time defending champion from Illinois, gave fans hope that he could once again defeat Vincenzo Joseph and give Ohio State the opening it needed. Joseph upset the No. 1 seeded Martinez, earning his second NCAA title in as many years.

Zahid Valencia, Arizona State's No. 1 seed at 174 pounds, made his bid to become an honorary Buckeye, on the other hand, handily dispatching Mark Hall. Suddenly, hope was again alive for Ohio State: win the next two matches, and the title was coming back to Columbus.

Myles Martin faced a must-win match against his arch-nemesis Bo Nickal. Nickal holds the upper hand in their rivalry, but fans harkened back to Martin's true freshman season, when he took Nickal to the wire and earned his own NCAA title.

It didn't happen that way, as Nickal turned a reversal into a pin just 2:30 into the first period. He picked up his second NCAA title in as many years, and clinched Penn State's seventh team championship in eight years.

With the team race over with, the heavyweight match between Kyle Snyder and Michigan titan Adam Coon became a victory lap for the world's best wrestler, instead of a must-win match for the team championship.

Snyder delivered in a big way, laying in a throw-by in the final period to seal his third title in a row with a 3-2 decision. 

Looking back at the team race, Snyder it was "bittersweet" because the team scored the most points by a national runner-up ever.

"The reason why it stings the most is because the way Myles' match ended – because I know how that feels," he said. "If you just lose, if someone just beats you, you can kind of handle that a little bit better. But when the match stops like that and you feel like you had some momentum going, that really stinks."

Snyder said, "I love Myles," and that Martin is a tough competitor. He said the team loss would have been an easier pill for the team to swallow were it not for seeing their teammate lose by fall in the last match of the season.

"If they would have just beaten us without that [pin] happening, and they wrestled the whole match through, then it is what it is," Snyder explained. "But the way that match ended really stinks." 

Match Results: NCAA Championship
Wt Result
125 No. 3 Spencer Lee (Iowa), decision over No. 4 Nick Suriano (Rutgers), 5-1
133 No. 1 Seth Gross (South Dakota State), decision over No. 2 Stevan Micic (Michigan), 13-8
141 No. 3 Yanni Diakomihalis (Cornell), decision over No. 1 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming), 7-4
149 No.1 Zain Retherford (Penn State), decision over No. 15 Ronald Perry (Lock Haven), 6-2
157 No. 3 Jason Nolf (Penn State), decision over No. 1 Hayden Hidlay (NC State), 6-2
165 No. 3 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State), decision over No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois), 6-1
174 No. 1 Zahid Valencia (Arizona State), decision over No. 2 Mark Hall (Penn State), 8-2
184 No. 1 Bo Nickal (Penn State), victory by FALL over No. 2 Myles Martin, 2:30
197 No. 4 Michael Macchivello (NC State), decision over No. 3 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech), 3-1
HWT No. 1 Kyle Snyder, decision over No. 2 Adam Coon (Michigan), 

Ohio State finished the season with a school record eight All Americans, and as the only team in history to have three four-time All Americans on the same roster. Kyle Snyder, Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan represent one of the most-successful senior classes in program history, having won three Big Ten titles and an NCAA championship during their four years in scarlet and gray.

"I'll look back at my career at Ohio State and just be thankful for not what I was able to achieve but all the moments and camaraderie and experience I've had with my teammates and coaches and my improvement as a wrestler and as a man and my faith especially, all that's grown so much," Snyder said. "So that's what I'll look back on."

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