2019 NCAA TOURNAMENT Session 2 Recap: Penn State Sends Six to Quarterfinals

By Rob Dougherty on March 22, 2019 at 8:45 am
Bo Nickal got two pins on Day 1.
Aaron Doster - USA Today Sports

Penn State wrestled a fine Session 2, but an upset at 184 pounds to Shakur Rasheed has limited the Nittany Lions' potential for team points. On a more positive note, Cael Sanderson's squad put six into the quarterfinals and had four bonus point victories during the session. Currently, the team standings after session 2 are: 

  1. Penn State - 32.5
  2. Ohio State - 25.5
  3. Iowa - 24
  4. Oklahoma State and Minnesota - 20

Rasheed ended up falling to No. 15 Chip Ness (North Carolina) in an 8-6 decision. The match will leave Rasheed and the coaches perplexed because Rasheed should have had the match dead and buried. He was up 5-2 as the third period wound down, and basically got lazy. Ness was able to use Rasheed's laziness for a takedown and four nearfall points, which buried Rasheed. 

Rasheed will not have a great draw in the consolation round either, as Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) could easily be waiting for him in the Round of 16. His first matchup will be against No. 17 Andrew McNally (Kent State), who is no pushover. Rasheed is looking at a real possibility of not even placing in this year's NCAA Tournament. 

Aside from Rasheed's loss, Penn State performed nearly in line with expectations. There were two more pins for Pin State. Nick Lee and Bo Nickal both finished the first day with two falls. Both are wrestling very well right now, and it will be interesting to see how they look on day two against stiffer competition. 

Jason Nolf won a 19-4 technical fall over John Van Brill (Rutgers). This performance was very pleasing for a lot of Penn State fans after what happened in Piscataway last season. Nolf will face Christian Pagdilao in the quarterfinals, whom he beat by major decision earlier this year. 

Vincenzo Joseph won an 8-4 decision and will be disappointed he could not get the major decision at the end of his match with Connor Flynn (Missouri). Joseph was in control for the entire match, and needed one more takedown at the end of the third period to get the major. However, Flynn was able to counter the overly extended Joseph and keep it to a normal decision. Joseph will take on Isaiah White (Nebraska) in the quarterfinals, the two have always had tough matches with. Do not forget your inhaler for this one. 

Mark Hall won an 8-3 decision against former All-American Brandon Womack (Cornell). Womack wrestled Hall tough, but Hall was never really in much danger in this one. Hall will face Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa) in Session 3. Lujan is another solid 174-pounder, so Hall will have to be on his game and ready to go. 

Anthony Cassar completed the session for Penn State to earn their sixth quarterfinals slot. Cassar won a 10-2 major decision over Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley). Cassar kept it tight to the vest, but his pace is too much for bigger heavyweights to handle. He will face Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) in the quarterfinals. Cassar beat Hillger earlier this season as well, so Penn State should feel reasonably confident going into this matchup. 

Roman Bravo-Young was close to defeating Austin Desanto, but came up short in a 7-2 decision. Bravo-Young was incredibly close to taking down Desanto in the third period when he was down 3-2. However, Bravo-Young never looked to have full control and the action went out of bounds. Desanto was able to counter a shot of Bravo-Young's late for a takedown and two nearfall points to clinch the victory. 

Bravo-Young is going to have to navigate a very difficult bracket tomorrow afternoon to have a chance to win an All-American spot. He will face No. 9 Chaz Tucker (Cornell) first, and if he wins that he will get the winner of No. 15 Ben Thornton (Purdue) or No. 17 Sean Nickell (CSU-Bakersfield). These are all difficult matchups, and Bravo-Young will have to win both to get to the Round of 12. 

Brady Berge fell to 5-seed Matt Kolodzik (Princeton) in a close match. Berge hung well with Kolodzik, but he lost 8-5 and falls into the consolation bracket. Berge's path to the Round of 12 is much more manageable than Bravo-Young's, though still tough. He will have No. 27 Tejan Anthony (George Mason) first. If Berge wins that, he will have the winner of No. 14 Requir Van der Merwe (Stanford) or No. 20 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota). 

Session 3 tomorrow is the start of the most meaningful day at the NCAA Championships for the team race. Team points are going to jump massively after wins on the championship side in session 3. Every win on the championship side will add seven team points to each team's total. The reason for that is the worst a wrestler in the semifinals can finish is in sixth place, sixth place wrestlers earn six team points, and wrestlers earn one point for advancing on the championship side. So, Penn State will have 42 team points on the line in their six quarterfinal matches in tomorrow afternoon's session. 

Here are the Nittany Lion matchups for Session 3:

Session 3 Matchups - Championship Side

  • 141 pounds - No. 3 Nick Lee vs. No. 22 Max Murin (Iowa)
  • 157 pounds - No. 1 Jason Nolf vs. No. 9 Christian Pagdilao (Arizona State)
  • 165 pounds - No. 2 Vincenzo Joseph vs. No. 7 Isaiah White (Nebraska)
  • 174 pounds - No. 1 Mark Hall vs. No. 8 Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)
  • 197 pounds - No. 1 Bo Nickal vs. No. 8 Nathan Traxler (Stanford)
  • 285 pounds - No. 2 Anthony Cassar vs. No. 7 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)

Session 3 Matchups - Consolation Side

  • 133 pounds - No. 10 Roman Bravo-Young vs. No. 9 Chaz Tucker (Cornell)
  • 133 pounds (if Bravo-Young wins) No. 10 Roman Bravo Young vs. winner of No. 15 Ben Thornton (Purdue) or No. 17 Sean Nickell (CSU-Bakersfield)
  • 149 pounds - No. 12 Brady Berge vs. No. 27 Tejan Anthony (George Mason)
  • 149 pounds - (if Berge wins) No. 12 Brady Berge vs. winner of No. 14 Requir Van der Merwe (Stanford) or No. 20 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota)
  • 184 pounds - No. 2 Shakur Rasheed vs. No. 17 Andrew McNally (Kent State)
  • 184 pounds - (if Rasheed wins) No. 2 Shakur Rasheed vs. winner of No. 26 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) or No. 25 Max Lyon (Purdue)
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