Pletcher, Shields, Zavatsky settle on being All-Americans again
The 330 wrestlers who came to Pittsburgh for the 2019 NCAA Division I wrestling championship this weekend weren’t just looking to become All-Americans. They wanted to be national champions.
But only 10 wrestlers could claim national-champ status once the tournament ended Saturday, and another 70 joined them as All-Americans.
While Latrobe’s Luke Pletcher and Zack Zavatsky and Franklin Regionals’ Josh Shields became All-Americans for the second time, they wanted more. They, along with Franklin Regional’s Spencer Lee, Kittanning’s Jason Nolf and Central Catholic’s Vincenzo Joseph, were the former WPIAL wrestlers to earn All-American status.
“I came here to win it,” said Shields, a junior at Arizona State. “I’m going home and figure out things so I can come back next year and win it.”
Shields settled for fifth place after dropping an 8-4 decision to Nebraska’s Isaiah White. Shields (30-6) came into the tournament seeded third, and he reached the semifinals before dropping a hard-fought 3-2 decision to Joseph.
Pletcher (27-7) finished fourth at 133 for the second consecutive season. The Ohio State junior already is looking forward to his senior season, when he will be a team captain and a leader.
“Luke is a special person,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “He’ll come be strong next season and show the way.”
Even though Pletcher finished fourth, he felt he improved. The 133-pound weight class was loaded this season, and six of the eight wrestlers from the Big Ten became All-Americans.
“I’m not quite there yet in this tournament,” Pletcher said. “I’m close. I just have to get back to it. I definitely got better this year, but this bracket was a lot tougher.”
Pletcher won a 7-6 decision against Iowa sophomore Austin DeSanto. He got the winning takedown with 17 seconds left in the consolation semifinals.
In the third-place match, Pletcher lost a 6-2 decision to Michigan’s Stevan Micic.
Zavatsky had a disappointing finish to his college career. He dropped three consecutive after winning in the blood round Friday.
He fell to Nebraska’s Dakota Geer, 5-4, in the seventh-place match at 184.
“It’s disappointing right now,” Zavatsky said. “I didn’t want to end on a loss. It’s kind of hard to say how I feel right now. I’m grateful to be on the podium, but it’s not what I worked for the last four or five years.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .