Nittany Lions now in first

CLEVELAND — Just when it looked like Ohio State was going to knock two-time defending champion Penn State off the top of the collegiate wrestling mountain, the Nittany Lions said “not so fast.”

The Nittany Lions turned a 13.5-point deficit at the beginning of Session 4 of the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships into an 11-point lead Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

With five finalists and three wrestlers still alive in the consolations, Penn State has 120.5 points. Penn State went 9-2 on the night, including 5-for-5 in the semifinals.

Ohio State advanced just two to the finals after going 2-4 in the semifinals. The Buckeyes still have six alive in the consolations and have 109.5 teams points.

Going back to 2015, the Nittany Lions are 16-0 in their last 16 semifinal bouts.

“Those are big matches in the semifinals, big matches, big points. There are still a lot of points available tomorrow, so we have to keep scoring points,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said.

“It sounds great, but that’s not a lot, 16. There are 10 weight classes each year. I think our guys were ready to go, big matches, but they the matches get bigger tomorrow.”

Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184), all defending NCAA champions, will return to the finals tonight.

Nick Lee (141) will wrestle in the consolation semifinals this morning and can still finish as high as third. Shakur Rasheed (197) and Nick Nevills (285) lost their final bouts Friday night and will each wrestle for seventh place.

Retherford advanced to his third straight national final with a measured, controlling 10-4 win over Troy Heilman of North Carolina. Retherford, who ran his winning streak to 93 in a row, scored three takedowns in the first and another in the third to go with an escape and riding time point against the defensive-minded Heilman.

“I think before that match I was kind of pacing out there in the center. I was just thinking, this is my second-to-last folkstyle match I’ll ever get to wrestle in a Penn State singlet. Just make the most of it.

Retherford got to the finals with a 20-2 technicall fall in five minutes over Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen in the quarterfinals.

Retherford will meet Cinderella finalist Ronnie Perry of Lock Haven in the finals. Perry the No. 15 seed beat 11th-seed Matt Kolodzik in the semifinals.

Nolf got to his third straight national final and he did it with a butt kicking in the semfinal over Ohio State’s Micah Jordan. Nolf, who sent a ripple through the crowd when he didn’t enter the arena until introductions were underway, rolled up a 16-0 technical fall in just 4:28, showing a ferocity and prowess with a leg ride on top that he hadn’t before.

Nolf got to the semifinals with a 6-2 decision over Iowa’s Michael Kemerer in the quarterfinals.

Nolf’s finals opponent is North Carolina State top seed Hayden Hidlay, a redshirt freshman from Lewistown. Hidlay majored Michigan’s Alec Pantaleo, 10-2.

Joseph slipped by Nebraska’s Isaiah White, 4-2 in the sudden victory period in the quarterfinals and had an equally close match in the semifinals. There he edged David McFadden of Virginia Tech, 3-1.

Joseph earned a rematch with Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in the finals. Joseph pinned Martinez a year ago,

Hall was led a tight match with Missouri’s Daniel Lewis when he countered Lewis’ single attempt by flipping him to his back and pinning him in 6:22. Hall will meet Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia in the final. Hall defeated Valencia in the semifinals a year ago.

Nickal dispatched Cornell’s Max Dean 13-7 in the quarterfinals and then slipped by Michigan’s Dom Abounader 6-3 in the semifinals. He’ll meet Ohio State’s Myles Martin in a rematch of the 2016 final, which Martin won. It will be the pair’s ninth meeting.

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