Penn State's chances at a fourth straight national title in wrestling have only improved after Session I of the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City.
The few major upsets that occurred in Session I came at the expense of Penn State's primary competition, Minnesota and Iowa. At 149 pounds, Minnesota's second-seeded Nick Dardanes suffered the biggest upset of the day, falling 8-5 to unseeded sophomore Matt Frisch of The Citadel. Meanwhile Iowa, dubbed a serious threat to Penn State's title reign before this tournament, endured two devastating losses.
The Hawkeyes' fifth-seeded Nick More lost in a lopsided 15-7 major decision to Bloomsburg's Josh Veltre, and fifth-seeded Iowa senior Ethen Lofthouse went down to Vic Avery of Edinboro, 5-3. All the wrestlers who lost can still wrestle back to third place, but they face a very long road, and longer odds, after losing in their respective opening matches.
While Minnesota's and Iowa's fortunes declined, Penn State enjoyed a banner first session. Nine of the Nittany Lions' 10 wrestlers won their first matches, including pins from David Taylor at 165 and Ed Ruth at 184. Penn State's Zain Retherford, seeded third at 141, surpassed a stiff test against returning All-American Ugi Khishignyam of The Citadel, and unseeded 149-pounder James English earned an important upset win over 12th-seeded Dylan Cottrell of Appalachian State.
Only in the second round of the tournament, tonight's second session will almost exclusively feature marquee matchups as dozens of matches pit two-seeded contestants against one another.
Complete results and updated brackets are found here.
Team Standings After Session I