PITTSBURGH — Eighty men every year can own the title of All-American; it’s elusive, it’s prestigious, and the chance to claim the title only comes around once a year. Twenty of them will take the mat tonight looking for more, but for now, it’s time to celebrate all 80 of these student-athletes and recognize the journey they took to end up on the podium at the 2019 NCAA wrestling tournament.
Spencer Lee, Nick Piccininni, Sebastian Rivera, Jack Mueller, Ronnie Bresser, Vitali Arujau, Patrick Glory and RayVon Foley earned the first eight All-American honors of the tournament at 125 pounds. For Aruja, Glory and Foley, it’s the first time these wrestlers will stand on the podium, while Lee, Mueller, Rivera Piccininni and Bresser will pick up their second All-American honors. Lee won this tournament last year and is now two-for-two in picking up all American honors in his wrestling career. He’ll face another returning All-American in Mueller in the finals. Filling out the podium are Rivera at third, Arujau at fourth, Nick Piccininni at fifth, Glory in sixth, Foley in seventh and Bresser, the senior, in eighth.
At 133 pounds, Nick Suriano and Daton Fix booked their tickets to the finals picking up their second and first All-American honors respectively. Roman Bravo-Young and John Erneste became the second two All-Americans announced at this weight, but Erneste picked up a win in the consolation battle. The Missouri grappler then proceeded to wrestle for the fifth place spot but ultimately lost to Austin DeSanto. Stevan Micic of Michigan picked up third-place honors with a win over Luke Pletcher from Ohio State. Ethan Lizak of Minnesota ended his career as a three-time All-American and seventh-place finisher in 2019 with a win over Penn State’s Bravo-Young.
Kyle Shoop of Lock Haven, Dom Demas of Oklahoma, Nick Lee of Penn State, Mitch McKee of Minnesota, Chad Red of Nebraska, Jaydin Eierman of Missouri, Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell and Joey McKenna of Ohio State took the eight All-American honors at 141 pounds. Diakomihalis is the defending national champion at this weight and will wrestle for his second title against now three-time All-American McKenna. These two have battled twice before this year, with Diakomihalis taking the win both times. Chad Red and Nick Lee both picked up their second podium finishes after taking fifth and seventh in last year’s tournament. Shoop, Demas and McKenna became All-Americans for the first time. Eierman, the most experienced All-American in the group, added a third trophy to his collection with a third-place finish over Demas, who finished fourth. Nick Lee took fifth while McKee, Shoop and Red rounded out the podium.
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A pair of experienced All-Americans will take the mat tonight in the finals of the 149-pound bracket in Micah Jordan of Ohio State and Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers. Jordan picked up his third All-American honor on Friday and Ashnault made history as the first four-time All-American from Rutgers. The two seniors will fight for a championship, and they’ll be joined on the podium by another athlete with multiple All-American honors to his name in Princeton’s Matthew Kolodzik, who finished fifth. Beyond these three athletes, the remaining five, O’Connor, Finesilver, Mauller, Degen and Lugo, picked up their first NCAA individual trophy in this tournament in third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.
At 157, Jason Nolf leads the pack with four All-American honors, followed by Tyler Berger, and Alec Pantaleo who each have three honors to their name. Hayden Hidlay picked up a second All-American honor after moving to the semifinals, battling Nolf to a tough 3-2 match and then dropping down and taking care of Ryan Deakin of Northwestern in the Saturday morning consoles. Hidlay ultimately finished fourth after losing to Pantaleo. Deakin joins Christian Pagdilao, Larry Early and Kaleb Young in the first-timers club. Pagdilao edged out Early for the seventh-place spot on the podium while Young topped Deakin for fifth in sudden victory.
Like his Penn State teammate, Vincenzo Joseph leads his weight class with All-American honors, picking up his third in the 2019 tournament. He’ll look to add a third national title to his resume tonight in his matchup against Mekhi Lewis, a first time All-American from Virginia Tech, in the 165-pound finals. Lock Haven’s Chance Marsteller, Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, Isaiah White of Nebraska and Bryce Steiert will march in the All-American parade for the first time in their careers. White finished on top of the podium in 2017 as a DII champ, but he makes the DI Top Eight for the first time this year. Evan Wick and Josh Shield both picked up their second honors. Marsteller, the only senior of the bunch, finished third after sneaking past to Wick one day after being pinned by the Badger the day before. White came in fifth with a win over Shields while Marinelli and Steiert finished out the All-Americans at seventh and eighth.
For the second year in a row, Penn State’s Mark Hall and Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia will face off in the 174-pound finals. Hall won the tournament in 2017, while Valencia took third, but the Arizona State grappler found his way to the top of the podium last year with a win over Hall in the finals. They’ll face again Saturday night, but both will leave PPG Paints Arena as three-time All-Americans. Hall and Valencia top an experienced crew that includes four-time All-American Daniel Lewis of Missouri, three-time All-Americans David McFadden and Myles Amine and two-timer Jordan Kutler. Mikey Labriola and Devin Skatzka earned their first honors with their podium finishes. Kutler took down Skatzka to finish seventh, and Michigan’s Amine took third with his victory over Lewis. McFadden, in a short time effort, took home fifth-place honors while Labriola finished sixth.
Max Dean pulled off the upset of the tournament when he topped 2017 national champion Myles Martin in the semifinals of 184, and the Cornell two-time All-American sophomore will now wrestle Northern Iowa’s two-time All-American Drew Foster for the title. These two athletes finished eighth and seventh in the tournament respectively last year. Martin, the four-time All-American from Ohio State, wrestled for third and came out firing against Lehigh’s first-time All-American Ryan Preisch. The two wrestled previously in the tournament, a dual in which Martin won 11-2, and the Ohio State senior finished his carer with a win for third. His performance drew a standing ovation from the Ohio State fans in PPG Paints Arena. Preish also ended his career on the podium in fourth. Dakota Geer, the lowest-seeded wrestler to ever place at this tournament, picked up his first All-American honor with a seventh-place finish over Zack Zavatsky, a two-time All-American. Emery Parker’s second All-American honor came in the form of a fifth-place finish and a win over North Carolina’s Chip Ness, a two-time All-American.
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Four-time All-American Bo Nickal leads his weight class in All-American honors and wrestle Kollin Moore, a three-time All-American in the finals of the 197-pound weight class tonight. Nickal is a two-time champion looking to end his career on top. Moore was third in 2017 and then finished fourth last year after dropping to unseeded Kyle Conel in the quarterfinals and the third-place match. In the consolation medal round, Jacob Warner won the seventh-place trophy and his first All-American honor with a win over first-time All-American senior Ben Honis of Cornell. Oklahoma State’s Preston Weigel topped Princeton’s Patrick Brucki in his final match of his career after a stellar run for the Cowboy to pick up his second All-American honor. In fifth, becoming Fresno State’s first All-American since 2002, is Josh Hokit, who topped four-time All-American Willie Miklus of Iowa State.
The 285-pound final will be a battle tonight between two first-time All-American seniors in Oklahoma State’s Derek White and Penn State’s Anthony Cassar. Cassar pulled off the upset against Gable Steveson in the semifinals, and White cruised through his side of the bracket as the No. 1 seed to book his first trip to the finals. Minnesota’s freshman Steveson picked up his first All-American honor with a third-place finish after beating first-time All-American Jordan Wood in the consolation medal round. Central Michigan’s Matt Stencel took seventh, beating Trent Hillger of Wisconsin, while seniors Amar Dhesi and Youssif Hemida ended their careers in fifth and sixth as three and two-time All-Americans.
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These 80 athletes will march in the All-American parade tonight at 6:35, and they'll walk home with hardware as All-Americans, a title no one can ever take from them.