Eight Lions seeded in top five for wrestling nationals

Penn State will try to win its third consecutive NCAA wrestling championship and seventh in eight years with eight of its nine-man contingent ranked among the top five of their respective weights, including two seeded No. 1.

The NCAA released seeds and brackets for the 2018 NCAA Div. 1 Wrestling Championships on Wednesday night. The tournament begins at noon on March 15 in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

Two-time defending champion Zain Retherford is the top seed at 149 pounds. The senior will start his hunt for a third title against Eastern Michigan’s unseeded Kyle Springer.

Defending 184-pound champion junior Bo Nickal is also a No. 1 seed. The first step toward his bid to repeat will come against unseeded South Dakota State wrestler Martin Mueller.

Mark Hall, the sophomore defending champion at 174, is one of three undefeated wrestlers at the weight. Hall is seeded second behind Zahid Valencia of Arizona State, who Hall defeated in the semifinals a year ago, 4-3. Hall faces unseeded Austin Rose of Drexel in the first round.

Jason Nolf, a junior, is one of three Nittany Lions who was afforded a No. 3 seed. He takes on unseeded Colin Hefferman of Central Michigan in the first round.

Vincenzo Joseph, the sophomore defending 165-pound champion, starts his title defense from the top of the bottom bracket as the No. 3 seed. He opens the tournament against Jonathan Schleifer of Princeton, who is unseeded.

Junior 285-pounder Nick Nevills, who placed fifth a year ago, is seeded third. He drew unseeded Stephen Suglio of Kent State in the first round.

Junior 197-pounder Shakur Rasheed enters his first NCAA tournament as the No. 5 seed. He will face unseeded Sawyer Root of the Citadel in the opening round.

Freshman 141-pounder Nick Lee earned the No. 8 seed for his first NCAA tournament. He meets Maryland’s Ryan Diehl in the first round. Lee defeated Diehl, 22-10, in a dual meet on Jan. 21.

Senior 133-pounder Corey Keener is unseeded in his final NCAA tournament. He starts the tournament against Pitt No. 11 seed Dom Forys.

The 330-man field will be trimmed down to 10 champions by the end of the evening on March 17.