NCAA wrestling second session recap: Attendance near 35,000 on first day at PPG Paints Arena
Nearly 35,000 people came out to PPG Paints Arena on Thursday for the opening day of the NCAA wrestling championships.
The NCAA announced attendance for the second session at 17,957, eight more than Thursday afternoon’s session, which drew 17,949.
Those in attendance Thursday night witnessed some memorable matches.
Biggest upset: North Carolina’s Chip Ness beat three top-10 wrestlers at the 2018 NCAA tournament on his way to becoming an All-American, and he was at it again Thursday night. Ness, seeded 15th at 184 pounds, beat No. 2 Shakur Rasheed of Penn State, 8-6, in the second round. Down 5-2 in the third period, Ness scored a takedown and four nearfall points to pull off the upset. It was the first loss of the year for Rasheed, the highest-ranked wrestler to lose Thursday.
Best match: Iowa’s Austin DeSanto beat Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, 7-2, in the second round at 133 pounds, but the match was much closer than that. In a rematch of a DeSanto 12-8 victory during the Big Ten championships, the wrestlers were tied through two periods. DeSanto went ahead with an escape in the third period and got a late takedown and two nearfall points to pull away. The match wasn’t without entertainment and a bit of controversy: The wrestlers went tumbling into the scorers’ table in the third period, a sequence where Penn State challenged unsuccessfully for a takedown.
Best local performance: It goes to Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi, who knocked off fourth-seeded Emery Parker of Illinois in the second round at 184 pounds. Bonaccorsi, a Bethel Park graduate, had two takedowns, three escapes and scored a point each on a penalty and stalling call against Parker, a returning All-American.
Lock up: Lock Haven’s Kyle Shoop pulled off an upset of his own with a 19-10 win over Northern Iowa’s Josh Alber, the fourth seed, in the second round at 141 pounds. Shoop, the 13th seed, had three nearfalls during the match that totaled 10 points.
Stoll call: Iowa’s Sam Stoll began the season as the top-ranked wrestler in the country at heavyweight, but an injury-plagued season dropped him to the 29th seed in the NCAA tournament. Stoll is having a strong performance at the right time, though, as the returning All-American beat two higher-seeded wrestlers to reach the quarterfinals.
Home state Hawkeyes: Maybe it has something to do with the black and gold colors, but Iowa’s four NCAA qualifiers from the state of Pennsylvania — returning 125-pound champion Spencer Lee (Franklin Regional), 133-pounder Austin DeSanto (Exeter), 141-pounder Max Murin (Central Cambria) and 157-pounder Kaleb Young (Punxsutawney) — all advanced to the quarterfinals.