NCAA wrestling championships: 10 things to know before matches get started in Pittsburgh

The NCAA Division I wrestling championship goes from March 21-23 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here are 10 things to know before the action gets started. 1. How do you spell H-O-D-G-E? For Penn State’s Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, this season has been a case of ‘what you can do, I can do better.’ The Penn State seniors have combined to win four NCAA titles and compiled an incredible 217-6 collegiate record, including a 51-0 mark as seniors. WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Brackets, schedule, qualifiers and latest news for DI championships Nolf, from Yatesboro, Pennsylvania, is PSU’s all-time pins leader with 59 and is 112-3 for his career, including a 26-0 mark in 2018-19. Nickal (25-0), from Allen, Texas, is 105-3 for his career with 56 pins. Nolf lost in the NCAA finals in 2016 to Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez, but has routed the 157-pound field the last two NCAA meets. Nickal lost in the 2016 174-pound NCAA final to Ohio State’s Myles Martin, but returned the favor in dramatic fashion last March to win his second title. Both Nolf and Nickal are seeded No. 1 this week and are each favored to win a third NCAA championship. Most would agree, the Hodge Trophy, collegiate wrestling’s version of the Heisman Trophy, is a battle between these two “take-no-prisoner” seniors. One more to round out the evening — who else but Bo and his latest title! #PSUwr pic.twitter.com/kJDckGyb4p — Penn State WRESTLING (@pennstateWREST) March 11, 2019 Others, on the outside looking in, include Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, PSU’s Mark Hall, and Ohio State’s Myles Martin. 2. Battle of attrition Talk of the 133-pound division has included “best ever,” the “toughest weight class in the history of the world,” and “the deepest weight in recent history.” However you describe it, at the end of the day — or three days for that — whoever wins this bracket in Pittsburgh will have earned it. From the opening whistle Thursday there are going to be nothing but big-time matches. The bottom half of the bracket reads like some sort of All-Star meet with national finalists, All-Americans, and, basically, a bunch of really good wrestlers. SELECTION SHOW: See all the qualifiers announced Oklahoma State freshman Daton Fix (30-1) is the top seed; he won a Junior World Championship in freestyle before college. Michigan’s Stevan Micic is unbeaten and a finalist in 2018. Third-seeded Nick Suriano of Rutgers was an NCAA finalist at 125 last March. Pittsburgh rookie Micky Phillippi is the only man to beat Fix this season. Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher was an All-American in 2018. Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak is a two-time All-American and an NCAA finalist in 2017. How stacked is this weight? Wyoming sophomore Montorie Bridges, the Big 12 runner-up, was an All-American last March. He’s seeded 12th this week. And what’s even better? Only two of the top eight seeds are seniors — Lizak, at No. 6, and Missouri John Erneste, at No. 8. That is the […]