Championship Round 1 Highlights:
#1 Thomas Gilman (IOWA) scores early and often, cruising to a 19-6 major dec. over Brent Fleetwood (CMU)
#2 Joey Dance (VT) earns a 17-2 tech. fall over pigtail winner, Gabe Townsell (STAN)
#4 Darian Cruz (LU) made quick work of former All-American Dylan Peters (UNI) earning a fall in 0:52
#6 Ethan Lizak (MINN) held on for a 10-8 decision over Christian Moody (OU); Lizak led this bout 7-0
#14 Freddie Rodriguez (SIUE) had one of the most impressive showings in round one, earning a first period tech. fall over Vito Pisone (APST)
#8 Nick Piccininni (OSU) recorded a fall over Elijah Oliver (IU)
Conor Youtsey (UM) falls to Drew Templeman (WYO)
Sean Fausz (NCST) WBF Noah Gonser (EMU) 3:19
Shakur Laney (OU) dec. S. Nickell (CSUB) 10-5
#1 Nathan Tomasello (OSU) rolled to a 13-4 major decision Korbin Meyers (EU)
#2 Seth Gross (SDSU) controlled the match for a 5-0 victory over Billy Rappo (MD)
#3 Kaid Brock (OSU) was pushed early, but opened up the scoring late for a 12-4 major dec. over Scott Delvecchio (RUT)
#4 Cory Clark (IOWA) blanked Connor Schram (STAN) 4-0 in a battle of returning All-Americans
#5 Stevan Micic (UM) cruised to a 10-3 decision over Chris Debian (CHAT)
#9 Scotty Parker (LU) picked up an 11-3 major dec. over Colby Smith (APST)
#14 Mitch McKee (MINN) opened his first NCAA tournament with a fall over Rico Montoya (UNCO)
#1 seed and returning NCAA champ Dean Heil (OSU) survived a tough first round match, winning 6-5 against Brock Zacherl (CLAR)
#2 Kevin Jack (NCST) posted a convincing 10-0 major dec. over Ronald Perry (LHU) in the first round
#3 Joey McKenna (STAN) controlled the match for a 5-0 victory of Dylan Caruana (BING)
#4 Matthew Kolodzick (PRIN) dec. Ryan Diehl (MD) 8-3
Jack Hathaway (ORST) picked up the biggest upset so far with a second period fall over #7 Joey Ward (UNC)
Jimmy Gullibon (PSU) earned a tech. fall over Javier Gasca (MSU)
#10 Bryce Meredith (WYO) major dec. Mike Longo (OU) 10-0
#12 Luke Pletcher (OSU) dec. Salvator Profaci (UM) 8-5
#1 Zain Retherford (PSU) wins in dominating fashion, 19-2 against Josh Maruca (ASU)
#2 Anthony Collica (OKST) cruised to an 11-2 major dec. over Cole Mendenhall (WYO)
#3 Lavion Mayes (MIZZ) dec. Sahid Kargbo (GMU) 8-3
#4 Micah Jordan (OSU) earned a dominating tech. fall in round one against Troy Heilmann (UNC) 22-6
#5 Brandon Sorenson (IOWA) earned bonus points for the Hawkeyes with a first period fall over Matthew Zovistoski (APST) 2:11
#9 Justin Oliver (CMU) earned a second period fall over Eric Barone (ILL) 4:47
Andrew Crone (WISC) pulls a mild upset, beating #12 Sam Speno (NCST) at 149 pounds.
#16 Jordan Laster (PRIN) dec. Nick Barber (EMU) 5-2
#1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) rolled to a 22-7 technical fall over Thomas Bullard (NC State) at 157 pounds
#2 Michael Kemerer (IOWA) was impressive in his NCAA debut, getting a major dec. over Jake Danishek (IU) 14-3
#3 Joey Lavallee (MIZZ) made quick work of Aaron Walker (CIT) by way of fall in 1:27
#4 Tyler Berger (NEB) dec. Ryan Mosley (GW) 9-2
Paul Fox (STAN) knocked off #6 Clayton Ream (NDSU) 8-4 at 157 pounds. Ream is the highest seed (excluding med. forfeits) to lose in the first round
#7 Dylan Palacio (COR) moves on to the second round with a 9-1 major decision victory over ACC champion Taleb Rahmani (PITT)
#10 Colin Heffernan (CMU) scored a takedown in sudden victory to edge Andrew Atkinson (UV)
Two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez (ILL) opened with a 14-4 major decision victory over Shaun'Qa McMurtry (NIU)
#2 Logan Massa (UM) does what Logan Massa does, earning a tech. fall over Seldon Wright (ODU) 19-3
#3 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU) controlled Keaton Subjeck (STAN) in a 5-1 victory. Joseph avenges his earlier season loss to Subjeck
NCAA runner-up Isaac Jordan (UW) advanced to the second round by beating Lorenzo De La Riva (CSUB) by major decision, 11-2
#5 Chad Walsh (RU) major dec. Johnny Sebastian (NW) 8-0
#6 Daniel Lewis (MIZZ) major dec. Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) 8-0
#13 Brandon Womack (Cornell) hammered Joey Gunther (Iowa) 12-3
#15 Drew Hughes (MSU) dec. Kellan Torres (UNCO) 6-0
#1 Zahid Valencia (ASU) rolled to a 19-5 major dec. victory over Chris Pfarr (MINN)
#2 Brian Realbuto (COR) earned a tech. fall over Devin Skatzka (IU) 19-4
#3 Bo Jordan (OSU) posted a 10-1 major dec. over Josef Johnson (HAR)
#4 Zach Epperly (VT) controlled his bout for an 8-1 dec. over Nick Reenan (NCST)
#5 Mark Hall (PSU), the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2016, opened his NCAA tournament with an 8-2 win over David Kocer (SDSU)
Jake Residori (SIUE) upset the #7 seed Kyle Crutchmer (OKST) 6-5
#9 Myles Amine (UM) dec. Ty Schoffstall (EDIN) 6-4
Jadaen Bernstein (NAVY) knocked off No. 12 Casey Kent (PENN) at 174 pounds.
#15 Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) dec. Peter Galli (STAN) 3-1
#1 Gabe Dean (COR) earned a 21-12 major dec. over Michael Coleman (NAVY)
#2 Bo Nickal (PSU), a returning NCAA runner-up, was unchallenged in his opening bout as he claimed a 15-0 tech. fall over Mitch Sliga (NW)
In a Big Ten battle, #3 Sammy Brooks (IOWA) topped Nick Gravina (RUT) 7-3
#4 Nolan Boyd (OKST) controlled Hunter Ritter (WISC) for a 7-1 win
#6 Myles Martin (OSU) put on a show, posting a 23-10 major dec. over Garrett Hoffman (BUCK)
#7 seed and NCAA runner-up T.J. Dudley (NEB) rolled to a tech. fall over victory over Michale Fagg-Daves (RU)
#16 Jordan Ellingwood (CMU) blanked Christian LaFragola (BROWN) 6-0
#1 seed and Olympic bronze medalist J'den Cox (MIZZ) advanced to the second round after pinning Jeric Kasunic (AMER) 2:20
#2 Brett Pfarr (MINN) major dec. Matt Correnti (RUT) 11-3
#3 Collin Moore (OSU) major dec. Malik McDonald (NCST) 16-6
#4 Jared Haught (VT) dec. Matt Williams (CSUB) 4-1
#5 Matt McCutcheon gave Penn State a bonus point victory as he pinned Christian Brunner (PU) 1:53
#6 Preston Weigel (OKST) cruised to a 7-0 victory over Marcus Harrington (ISU)
Cash Wilcke (IOWA) upset #13 Tom Sleigh (BUCK) 4-2 in sudden victory
Steban Cervantes (NAVY) upset #16 Austin Severn (CMU) 6-4 in overtime
#1 seed and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder (OSU) was dominant in a 25-10 tech. fall victory over Jake Gunning (BUFF)
#2 Connor Medbery (WISC) moved on to the round of 16 with a convincing 14-1 major decision victory over Ray O'Donnell (PRIN)
#3 Ty Walz (VT) put together a strong opening match, winning 11-4 over Benjamin Tynan (NDSU)
#4 Jacob Kasper (DUKE) dec. Gage Hutchinson (EMU) 5-0
Nick Nevills (PSU), seeded #5, won a hard-fought victory, 4-2, over Doug Vollaro (LU)
#7 Tanner Hall (ASU) was pushed in his first match, but came out on top 4-2 against Dustin Dennison (UVU)
In the final match of Session I, No. 10 Nathan Butler (STAN) edged Joey Goodhart (DREX) 3-3 victory in the second tiebreaker. The difference was 4 seconds of riding time.
Conan Jennings (NW) scored a mild upset, 4-0, over No. 11 Jared Johnson (CHAT)
Seeing my breath in the bitter cold February mornings here in Pennsylvania brings back fond memories. The roads were lined with snow, ice and salt from months of plowing and shoveling. I grew up in a small PA town. My high school, Mount Pleasant was not generally known for it’s athletic teams but had produced some great individual athletes. But when I stepped into the school in 1994, Mount Pleasant had yet to have a PIAA State champion. Not in wrestling. Not in any sport. Many had fallen just short and silver was the unfortunate standard.
I would continue the silver standard by losing consecutive state final matches in both my sophomore and junior seasons. Wrestling clubs, which currently offer the opportunity for the best wrestlers in the area to congregate weekly in one mat room, did not exist in the mid-nineties. And as many teenagers I know, my father’s advice of running 3 miles everyday to be in great shape had gone unheeded for my high school years up unto this point.
But prior to my senior year I decided to take his advice and began the dreadful task of running the recommended daily regimen. With practice after school and schoolwork in the evenings, the only time to really get the extra workout in was pre-dawn. Each morning my mother would get up and drive me 3.2 miles from our home to the local Sunoco station also known as the ‘Open-Pantry’. She would pull into the lighted parking lot and I would climb out and mumble “See you in twenty,” before shutting the door.
I breezed through the first month of the season with a perfect record winning both the Beast of the East and PowerAde tournaments without much competition. An unfortunate car accident would sideline me in early January for the entire month. I was unable to do anything during this time, including working out of any kind. No running, no wrestling no lifting. I once again began to feel the fear of future failure creep in.
Once my doctor gave me the green light, I resumed my regular workout schedule that again included my early morning running routine. On one particular frozen February morning, my mother advised me that it was seven degrees out and implored me “not to run this morning.” “I gotta go ma,” I responded. We hopped in our blue Toyota Corolla and away we went.
My mom was right. It was brutally cold out that morning. As I stepped out of the car in the Sunoco parking lot, I could see my breath fog up the air around me like smoke from a cannon. Not a soul was seen as I made my way up and down the countryside roads, hugging the snow-banked sides.
My lungs were burning and my stomach was cramping. My face was frozen and the thought of stopping and walking was clearly at the forefront of my thoughts. I had just climbed the last large hill and was in the middle of a long straight away stretch just about a mile from home when I noticed headlights coming toward me in the distance. As the lights grew closer, I could tell it was a truck. Closer and slower it came. I tightly hugged the side of the road as the truck neared. It was slowing down. No, it was stopping. As the truck reached me, I could see the window rolling down. My heart was pounding and all thoughts of pain and my current suffering had subsided. Behind the wheel was a bearded man. We locked eyes. “Go get it Waller!” he yelled as he hit the gas and sped off. Stunned by this stranger’s comment, I nodded as I backpedalled and watched his taillights fade out of sight.
I turned and ran the last mile home as hard as I could. I felt no pain and no suffering. Lingering fear over my encounter with a stranger coupled with bewilderment and an awkward sense of appreciation for this stranger’s statement carried me the rest of the way home.
One month later I would win the PIAA State Championship and become my high school’s first-ever state champion.
Pennsylvania roads aren’t paved with gold during the winter months (or anytime for that matter). And along with the snow and salt, I can guarantee you there will be failure along them. But you can also find success somewhere along the way, if you’re willing to find the daily motivation to get up and continue on that same road toward a goal that many aren’t even willing to look down.
On that freezing February morning, a stranger had taken away my pain and doubt, and filled me with a sense of motivation (not to mention fear!). He didn’t know me, but he knew what road I was on. One filled with potholes full of failure, disappointment, and shortcomings. But he was kind (or crazy) enough to stop and let me know that my journey wasn’t going unnoticed and that he too wanted his town’s first state champion. I never found out whom that bearded man was but I’m glad he was there that morning.
Throughout my coaching career, I have been blessed to coach NCAA Champions, All-Americans, and U.S. World and Olympic Team members. All of them pulled motivation from different areas of their lives. Whether it was faith, family, past failures, or their community, they all found it. They found it everyday and for every workout.
The whereabouts of my PIAA State medals are unknown. I lost track of them. It doesn’t really matter. Medals and trophies don’t define your success. Experiences do. Everyone takes their own individual and unique path toward their goals. And whatever those goals are, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of motivation to get there. Don’t be afraid to look in stranger places to add more fuel to your fire. Because you never know where your next challenge will come from and who or what it might be.