Pa. proves to be preeminent wrestling state

.OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – By reputation, Pennsylvania is the preeminent wrestling state in the country.

Iowa might give you an argument. Or Ohio. Or even New Jersey.

However, the numbers back up the Keystone State’s claim.

Based on qualifiers along, Pennsylvania has twice the number of any other state – 63. Ohio is a distant second with 31. New Jersey is third with 24.

That’s the exact reason that Penn State coach Cael Sanderson left his alma mater, Iowa State, to come East and guide the Nittany Lions.

First-round upsets

Typically, some of the most exciting moments of the first day come in the first round when seeded wrestlers are upset. Compared to years past, the carnage was relatively light on Thursday.

Three top five seeds were upset, and they all benefitted Penn State. Two Iowa No. 5 seeds and a Minnesota No. 2 seed were bounced.

For the Golden Gophers, 149-pounder Nick Dardanes was bitten by the upset bug, 8-5, by the Citadel’s Matt Frisch.

For the Hawkeyes, 165-pounder Nick Moore was majored by Bloomsburg’s Josh Veltre, 15-7. And, at 184, Ethen Lofthouse fell to Edinboro’s Victor Avery, 5-3.

Flip the script.

Last year, in a radical departure from the norm, the NCAA altered the starting point of the championship finals. In a nod to the clash of the titans that happened at 165 pounds – Cornell’s Kyle Dake vs. Penn State’s David Taylor – the finals started at 174 pounds and ended at 165.

This year, the NCAA will alter the order again. It hasn’t been revealed how it plans to do it, but the organization did say it would announce its plans after tonight’s semifinals.

Future plans

If you’re one of those people who is organized enough to plan years in advance, here’s your guide to the sites of the next three NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships.

In 2015, it’s back to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 19-21.

In 2016, a brand-new, yet old venerable building takes center stage as Madison Square Garden in New York City hosts on March 17-19.

In 2017, it’s once again the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 16-18.

And, in 2018, the championships return to Cleveland, this time at Quicken Loans Arena on March 15-17.

Perfection is fleeting

Most years a dozen or more wrestlers enter the season undefeated. This year, a more topsy turvy season than most can remember, those undefeated seasons were hard to come by.

Only four wrestlers survived the regular season and conference tournaments without a blemish on their record.

The four were: Virginia Tech 141-pounder Devin Carter (14-0), Edinboro 141-pounder Mitchell Port (27-0), Penn State 165-pounder David Taylor (30-0) and Maryland 184-pounder Jimmy Sheptock (29-0).

All four won both matches on Thursday and are still undefeated.