It was a big night for New Jersey in the NCAA wrestling finals, producing four national champions and one runner-up. The night began with the 285 lb. weight class.
#2 Anthony Cassar (Penn State/Montgomery) wins a 10-1 major decision over Derek White (Oklahoma State). After a scoreless first period, White started the second period on the bottom and escaped for a 1-0 lead. Late in the period, Cassar made the big move to go in front, 6-1, getting two for a take down and four for the near-fall to go up 6-1 after two. It was a quiet match to that point and Cassar exploded for the six points and carried that energy over to the final period. Cassar escaped from the bottom to begin the final period and earned another takedown to go up 9-1. One point for riding time gave him a 10-1 victory and the national championship.
#3 Nick Suriano (Rutgers/Bergen Catholic/Paramus, NJ) wins 4-2 in double overtime/sudden victory over Daton Fix (Oklahoma State). Suriano came out aggressively in the second period, but Fix was able to get first point with an escape. Suriano escaped early in the third to tie it and that was the score heading into sudden victory. The overtime was scoreless and the two went to 30-second tiebreakers. Suriano rode Fix in the first tiebreaker, but received his second stall warning to award one point to Fix. Suriano the escaped in the second 30-second tiebreaker to knot the score at 2-2. They went to a second overtime/sudden victory and Suriano made his takedown to become the first national champion for Rutgers. He was the aggressor in the match and deserved to win. I thought the Oklahoma State coaches did too much bellyaching, accusing Suriano of hands-to-the face, along with several other challenges to the officials. In the end, the better wrestler won.
#2 Joey McKenna (Ohio State/Blair Academy/Towaco, NJ) loses a 6-4 decision in Sudden Victory to Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell). McKenna came out strong with a takedown and a 2-0 lead and Diakomihalis cut it to 2-1 with an escape. McKenna was cut loose in the second period for an escape point, going ahead 3-1 and he defended a possible pin so well that Diakomihalis was not awarded any points. Diakomihalis escaped early in the third cut the lead to 3-2 and added two points, followed by McKenna’s escape to send it into sudden victory at 4-4. Diakomihalis earned a takedown to become a two-time national champion.
#1 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers/South Plainfield) wins 9-3 decision over Micah Jordan (Ohio State). Jordan took a 1-0 lead when Ashnault was called for an illegal hold. Ashnault then got a takedown early in the second period to ahead, 2-1. Ashnault earned two points before Jordan took Ashnault down to close the gap to 4-3 in the third period. Ashnault then had a takedown and a near-fall to to up, 8-3 and earned another point for riding time for a 9-3 win and became the second national champion in Rutgers history.
#8 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech/Bound Brook) wins a 7-1 decision over two-time defending champion Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State). The scoring opened early in the second period when Lewis received four points for a near-fall, followed by Joseph’s escape to make it 4-1. Lewis escaped early in the third and followed later in period with a takedown to make it 7-1. This capped an incredible performance by Lewis, knocking off top-seed Alex Martinelli (Iowa) yesterday and the second-seeded Joseph.