NCAA wrestling notebook: Penn State has work to do in wrestlebacks
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Penn State's pursuit of a fourth consecutive team title may be tied to wrestlebacks.
Five Nittany Lions went 2-0 Thursday, lumping the importance on the matches that will determine the third-, fifth- and seventh-place finishers.
“Kids lose matches,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “Sometimes things don't go as planned. That's where we see (Friday) what we're made of.”
One of the most costly losses for Penn State came at 197 pounds, where third-seeded Morgan McIntosh dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 14 Chris Penny of Virginia Tech.
“McIntosh needs to come back strong,” Sanderson said. “That's not a match he needed to lose.”
Sanderson admitted he was “a fan like everybody else” of David Taylor and Ed Ruth, who cruised in the 165- and 184-pound brackets, but winning another team title will require more than bonus points out of the Nittany Lions' two studs.
Entering late matches, Penn State had a five-point lead — 26.5-21.5 — over Minnesota and Oklahoma State. Edinboro was fifth at 18.0.
Evan Henderson kept tabs on Colin Johnston and knew he was a PIAA champion and the all-time wins leader at Canon-McMillan.
Yet Henderson, who wrestled at Kiski Prep, never had a chance to compete against Johnston until the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Henderson, now a 141-pounder for North Carolina and the No. 9 seed in the bracket, handed Johnston a 3-0 loss in the first of two sessions Thursday.
“I always wanted to beat him,” Henderson said. “Finally got a chance.”
Johnston rebounded to get a 12-5 decision over Steven Rodrigues of Illinois in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Pitt's 125-pounder, Anthony Zanetta, pinned Michigan Conor Youtsey in the first round. The fall came at 3 minutes, 44 seconds, and it was the first pin for Zanetta (21-9) this season
Zanetta dropped his second-round match 6-0 to the No. 2 seed, Nahshon Garrett, of Cornell.
There will be more tweaks this year to the order of Saturday night's finals. In 2013, the NCAA hand-picked the tournament's last match.
Now, all 10 bouts won't be ordered until after Friday night's semifinal round.
The 141-pound bracket has been the most competitive locally, and that's reflected in a Friday morning quarterfinal-round bout between Edinboro's Mitchell Port and Henderson.
Port, the top seed, advanced with a pair of pins. After decisioning Johnston, Henderson pinned Luke Vaith of Hofstra in the second round Thursday night.
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