5 semifinal bouts to watch Friday night at NCAA Wrestling Championships
With three sessions in the books at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, it’s time to look for the best matchups in Friday’s semifinals at PPG Paints Arena. The session will get underway at 8 p.m.
These matches should be electric and have fans on the edge of their seats:
3-Spencer Lee, Iowa (21-3) vs. 2-Nicholas Piccininni, Oklahoma State (33-0)
It was a shocker when Piccininni pinned Lee in a dual meet on Feb. 24 at 125 pounds. It was the first time Lee had been pinned in a match since he was 9 years old. Lee won both meetings in 2018, including a pin in the NCAA quarterfinals.
5-Luke Pletcher, Ohio State (26-5) vs. 1-Daton Fix, Oklahoma State (33-1)
With rival Micky Phillippi of Pitt (Derry) out of the way, Pletcher has his eyes on the Cowboys’ freshman. Phillippi is the only wrestler to defeat Fix this season at a dual at Pitt. This is the second consecutive year Pletcher has reached the semifinals at 133 pounds.
3-Nick Suriano, Rutgers (27-3) vs. 2-Stevan Micic, Michigan (17-0)
The 133-pound matchup pits two All-Americans. Suriano lost to Lee in the 125-pound final in 2018, and Micic lost in the 133 final to South Dakota State’s Seth Gross. Micic won the regular-season match 3-2. They did not meet at the Big Ten Championships.
3-Josh Shields, Arizona State (30-3) vs. 2-Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State (26-1)
This is a classic semifinal-round battle between two WPIAL wrestlers. Joseph (Central Catholic) won the regular- season match, 11-2, at 164 pounds. They’ve been practice partners for years and Shields (Franklin Regional) said he’s looking forward to the rematch.
3-Gable Steveson, Minnesota (33-1) vs. 2-Anthony Cassar, Penn State (28-1)
This is a classic heavyweight matchup between the Minnesota freshman and a Penn State senior. Cassar edged Steveson, 4-3, in the Big Ten finals last week. Both have lost once. Cassar fell to top seed Derek White of Oklahoma State, 3-2.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .