Tom Elling’s Wrestling Mat-ters: NCAA College Wrestling Nationals Preview

By the time most of you are reading this, the NCAA tournament will be about to begin. Starting time is noon today. There will be eight mats so it will be difficult navigating the arena to get up close and personal photos of the local teams.

First round match-ups for the Lock Haven team are:

133 DJ Fehlman (34-6) vs No. 9 seed Charles Tucker (27-4) of Cornell.

141 Kyle Shoop (31-6) vs No. 20 Matt Findlay (14-2 of Utah Valley)

157 Alex Klucker (21-9) vs No. 33 Ben Anderson (8-14) of Duke in a pigtail match

165 Chance Marsteller (22-2) vs No. 28 Carlson Brolsma (19-10) of Minnesota

184 Corey Hazel (15-3) vs No. 17 Andrew McNally (31-7) of Kent State

285 Thomas Haines (23-4) vs No. 22 Billy Miller (16-7) of Virginia Tech.

Tucker decisioned Fehlman in the dual meet at Cornell on Feb. 2, in overtime with a 7-5 sv score. Tucker’s losses were to Ethan Lizak (Minnesota), Luke Pletcher (Ohio State), John Erneste (Missouri) and Montorie Bridges (Wyoming).

Shoop’s opponent, Findlay, has been banged up and medical forfeited his last three bouts in order to try to get healthy enough for the NCAA grind. He had some impressive wins defeating the likes of Chad Red (Nebraska) (10-8); Tristan Moran (Wisconsin) (10-5); Jamal Morris (North Carolina State) (5-3); and Sammy Krivus (Virginia) (10-4).

Anderson owns a win over George Mason’s Kolby Ho (Dec 10-6). He has losses to Hayden Hidlay (NC State a Mifflin Co State Champ) (MD 15-5),BC LaPrade (Virginia Tech) (MD 14-5); Taleb Rahmani (Pittsburgh) (Dec 14-7). He recently avenged a TF loss to Jake Keating (Virginia) in the ACC Championships. His record isn’t impressive but he has come on strong of late.

Chance, the No 5 seed, get Minnesota’s Brolsma who lost in the Big Tens to Te’Shan Campbell (Ohio State) (Dec 3-1) and Joseph Gunther (Illinois) (Minnesota) (TB-2 3-2). Campbell is in the same bracket.

Hazel’s opponent McNally has losses to Shakur Rasheed (Penn State) by fall; Tanner Harvey (American) by fall; Dylan Wisman (Missouri) by 9-4 decision.

Haines faces old nemesis Miller, who transferred from Edinboro to VA Tech. Pitt’s Demetrius Thomas (Pittsburgh) defeated Miller, 10-9, in the ACC championships. Thomas also own a dual meet win over him. Jordan Wood (Lehigh), Nick Nevills (Penn State), and Matt Voss (George Mason) own wins over Miller.

For the first time in NCAA history, every entry has been seeded. Members of the seeding committee include Pat Tocci, who wrestled at Bethlehem Liberty then at Brown and Tom Ryan of Ohio State who represents the Big Ten. Former Cornell coach Andy Noel is also on that committee.

While all of the brackets are tough (no kidding), the 133-pound class is one for the ages. Oklahoma State super freshman Daton Fix is the No. 1 seed; Michigan’s Stevan Micic is unbeaten and was a runner-up last year. Nick Suriano (Rutgers) is 3rd and was also an NCAA finalist at 125 last year. Pitt’s Mickey Phillippi is the only man to beat Fix this season. Others in the weight class include Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher; Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak and Wyoming sophomore Montorie Bridges, the Big 12 runner-up and an All-American in 2018.

Penn State will be shooting for their 8th title in the past nine years. Charlie Speidel’s team in 1953 also won a title. They out-distanced Oklahoma 21-16. A lot of things have chan ged since those days including the number of qualifiers, the size of the venues, and the technique.

Pennsylvania leads the states in number of qualifiers with 53. Ohio is next with 24. NJ has 23.

LHU’s Scott Moore is once again a finalist for National Coach-of-the-Year honors.

The cost of tickets to attend the NCAA’s is bordering on ridiculous. Of course, the smaller venue at PPG in Pittsburgh is a factor, but then so is putting the ticket out to a ticket-selling agency,íthat raises the prices.

In case you hadn’t heard, Kent State’s Kyle Conel, an NCAA third-place finisher in 2018, made his intentions known to enroll at Penn State to pursue a master’s degree and complete his final year of eligibility. The plan hinges on if he is granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA. He injured his shoulder severely at the beginning of the season and wrestled just two matches.

Ann Peery-Ritter will be one of the medal presenters at the NCAA’s. Her dad Rex, brothers Hugh and Ed were all three-time NCAA champions. Ann is the president of the PA Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and will be attending our May 8 breakfast at the Flemington First Church of Christ.

A new book entitled “GIANT KILLER The Carlton Haselrig Story” – by Kevin Emily will be unveiled at the NCAA Championships March 22. Calton will sign autographs at the fanfest. He will also be part of an outstanding panel (Nate Carr, Sr., David Taylor, and Erin Vandiver) on Thursday 3:45-4:30 at the David Lawrence Convention Center. On the high school front, it was the smallest region – our own NW AAA – that had the most PIAA State Champions. We had five of the fourteen. The SW (WPIAL Dist 7) had 4. The Northeast (Bethlehem-Easton-Allentown) had 3. South Central (District 3 Harrisburg and beyond) and the SouthEast (District 1 -Suburban Philly) each had one.

Other high school news:

The USA team downed PA, 29-18 in the annual Pittsburgh Classic held this past weekend. PA’s only winners were Julian Chlebove (Northampton), Ryan Anderson (Bethlehem Catholic), Daniel Mancini (Owen J. Roberts), and Carter Starocci (Erie Cathedral Prep). Starocci, a Penn State recruit was named the PA Outstanding wrestler.

Mike Porter informs me that King of the Mountain contracts have been extended to these new teams: Trinity, Canon-McMillan, Thomas Jefferson, and Garnet Valley.

Local placers in the PA Junior Wrestling Championships:

82 2nd Nikolaus Oneill (Philadelphia) DEC Dalton Perry (Central Mountain), 4-2

97 7th Gino Serafini (Central Mountain) DEC Hunter Johnson (Mifflin County), 2-1

102 3rd Luke Simcox (Central Mountain) DEC Cade Wirnsberger (Meadowbrook Christian School), 1-0

112 5th Branden Wentzel (Jersey Shore) DEC Nathan Roth (Latrobe), 10-5

157 4th Matthew Furman (Canon-McMillan) MD Damien Galentine (Central Mountain), 13-4

167 3rd Hadyn Packer (Jersey Shore) F Kohen Lehman (Souther Tioga), 0:46

One more column to go (after NCAAs). I hope you enjoyed the season.