The original story previewing this weekend’s tournament is below:
Penn State’s wrestling team enters the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament with hopes of claiming a sixth title in the past seven years.
The Nittany Lions have entries in nine of the 10 weight classes, including eight top-five seeds, but an injury to freshman Nick Suriano could make their task more difficult.
Suriano (16-3), seeded No. 3 at 125 pounds, sprained an ankle in Penn State’s final dual meet Feb. 19 against Oklahoma State and defaulted out of the Big Ten tournament. That gave Suriano two more weeks to prepare for the NCAA championships, which will begin Thursday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, and, according to Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, it has been time well spent.
“He’s down in the room now wrestling, he’s progressing along,” Sanderson said Monday. “He’s looking good. I don’t know what else you want to hear.”
Asked if Suriano would definitely be wrestling this weekend, Sanderson confirmed his participation. “He’s in, he’s in,” he said. “Everyone’s healthy. We’re healthy and happy and excited. It’s national tournament week. It’s a good time to be alive right now.”
Penn State’s lineup features four WPIAL wrestlers, including Kittanning graduate Jason Nolf (22-0), the top seed at 157 pounds. Nolf, a sophomore who placed second in the country last year, has a 55-2 career record, including 28 pins and 17 technical falls.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, feeling good, strong and technical, so I’m ready to go,” Nolf said.
The other three Penn State starters from the WPIAL are Central Catholic graduate Vincenzo Joseph (17-4), the No. 3 seed at 165; Kiski Area’s Matt McCutcheon (18-4), the No. 5 seed at 197; and Derry’s Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) at 141.
“It’s the best time of the year, and we get to show what we’ve been working on all year,” said McCutcheon, who is making a third consecutive NCAA appearance. “I think our team has a chance to do something special this weekend, so I’m very excited.”
Edinboro has eight entries in the three-day tournament, which concludes with an ESPN broadcast Saturday night. The Fighting Scots have five wrestlers seeded among the top 14, including Sean Russell (32-6), No. 7 at 125; and Patricio Lugo (30-7), No. 8 at 149.
Pitt has four entries, including two top-10 seeds. North Allegheny grad Dom Forys (19-1) is No. 6 at 141 and Penn Hills’ Te’Shan Campbell (20-2) is No. 10 at 165.
“This is my third trip to nationals,” said Forys, who fell one win short of All-America status last year. “I made it to the round of 12 last year. This year, I’m determined to place.”
Pitt fired coach Jason Peters midway through the season and named assistants Matt Kocher and Drew Headlee as co-head coaches.
“It was a tough situation. It happened so quickly,” Forys said. “It hasn’t been as bad a situation as it could have been. Coaches Kocher and Headlee have been heavily involved in all we do, so nothing has changed except their job titles.”
Forys, Campbell, and the Penn State quartet are among 17 WPIAL alumni entered in the national tournament.
Franklin Regional is represented by four wrestlers, including Iowa’s redshirt freshman Michael Kemerer (27-2), who is seeded No. 2 behind Nolf at 157. Both his losses were to Nolf.
Two more former Franklin Regional wrestlers will compete for Arizona State: Josh Shields (32-7), the No. 9 seed at 157; and Josh Maruca (21-8), at 149.
Bucknell entry Tyler Smith (28-8), the No. 15 seed at 141, rounds out Franklin Regional’s entries.
Virginia Tech’s lineup features two highly seeded entries from the WPIAL. Canon-McMillan grad Solomon Chishko (23-1) is No. 6 at 149, and Latrobe’s Zach Zavatsky (24-2) is No. 5 at 184.
NCAA Qualifiers: local colleges (with record and weight class)
Penn State  — No. 3 Nick Suriano (16-3, 125), James Gulibon, Derry (14-10, 141), No. 1 Zain Retherford (23-0, 149), No. 1 Jason Nolf, Kittanning (22-0, 157), No. 3 Vincenzo Joseph, Central Catholic (17-4, 165), No. 5 Mark Hall (26-3, 174), No. 2 Bo Nickal (21-1, 184), No. 5 Matt McCutcheon, Kiski Area (18-4, 197), No. 5 Nick Nevills (20-3, 285).
Edinboro  — No. 7 Sean Russell (32-6, 125), Korbin Myers (29-10, 133), No. 8 Patricio Lugo (30-7, 149), Chase Delande (21-16, 157), No. 12 Austin Matthews (18-7, 165), Ty Schoffstall (20-9, 174), No. 14 Dakota Geer (29-8, 184), No. 12 William Miller (31-9, 285).
Pitt  — No. 6 Dom Forys, North Allegheny (19-1, 141), Taleb Rahmani (23-6, 157), No. 10 Te’Shan Campbell, Penn Hills (20-2, 165), No. 15 Ryan Solomon (17-4, 285).
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