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Penn State rolls to another championship, Dean Heil becomes 2x National Champion

2017 NCAA Wrestling National Championships

ST. LOUIS — Oklahoma State is the benchmark in wrestling excellence. But right now, Penn State is the gold standard.
The Nittany Lions cruised to their second straight championship with 146.5 points at the Scottrade Center. Penn State, winning its sixth title in seven years, finished with five individual champions, including Vincenzo Joseph’s stunning upset of Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez in the 165-pound finals.
Joseph, the No. 3 seed at 165, pinned Martinez at 5:26. And it was Martinez in search of his third straight crown.
“I was confident going in. And even after I gave up that first takedown I was, like, they went to review it. I went back, talked to my coaches,” Joseph said. “First thing I said to them was: I’m scoring soon. I could feel it starting to open up, and I knew I was going to get to my attack soon. Get an opportunity there.”
The Nittany Lions capitalized on opportunities all weekend long. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, couldn’t come close to duplicating that kind of dominance.
The Cowboys’ lone national champion was Dean Heil, who capped a 32-0 season with a 6-3 triumph over Virginia’s George DiCamillo.
OSU finished third as a team with 103 points. Ohio State was second with 110.

Weight-by-weight recap

125: Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Ethan Lizak (Minnesota), 6-3
Cruz became Lehigh’s first national champion since Zach Rey won a heavyweight title in 2011. He also became Lehigh’s 28th national champion.
Cruz: “I’ve worked my tail off, day in and day out and it feels so good to have it pay off. Another thing I’m really happy about is I made the Lehigh community, my parents, my family, my friends, my coaches so proud. That’s the biggest thing to having success, having that drive. All those people are my drive.”

133: Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. Seth Gross (South Dakota State), 4-3
Gross was South Dakota State’s first-ever finalist, but it was Clark who won his first championship after making three straight appearances in the finals.
Clark: “Did I ever think it was going to get done? I thought if it wouldn’t have got done it would have been a disaster because that was my goal as a senior in high school. I always set high goals. I always said four-time NCAA champ was my goal. I didn’t really tell anybody that, but that was my goal. Each year I didn’t accomplish that it hurt me inside. So to get it done this year is incredible. It means a lot. It’s incredible to finally get this done.”

141: Dean Heil (OSU) dec. George DiCamillo (Virginia), 6-3
Heil won his second straight championship at 141.
Heil: “I don’t really look at it as defending the title. A lot of guys’ dreams are to win a national championship. I just had the opportunity to win a second, and I’m blessed for that.”

149: Zain Retherford (Penn State) tech fall Lavion Mayes (Missouri), 18-2
Mayes struck quickly with a takedown less than 30 seconds in, but Retherford answered back with 18 straight points. Retherford also became a two-time champion with 63 straight wins heading into next season.
Retherford: “I’ve been taken down before. I was feeling kind of nervous a little bit, but more excited nervous. So that’s the signal it’s ‘go time.’ It’s national finals, ‘Let’s go.’ So, yeah, just focusing on keep scoring after that point, doesn’t matter.”

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157: Jason Nolf (Penn State) maj. dec. Joey Lavellee (Missouri), 14-6
Nolf, a sophomore, picked up his first championship after losing by a point to Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez in the 2016 finals. Nolf finished the season 27-0.
Nolf: “Pretty excited as you can tell by my face. I’m more of a mellow, stoic kind of guy. But I was really excited scoring a lot of points out there. I still think I could have scored more. But that would just keep me ready for next year. And I’m really looking forward to watching my other teammates wrestle.”

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165: Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) fall Isaiah Martinez (Illinois), 5:26
Martinez was after his third championship in three years until Joseph pinned him to the mat in the third period. The championship was Joseph’s first as a redshirt freshman.
Joseph: “(Martinez) is a phenomenal wrestler. He’s a bully on the mat. And this time I was definitely ready for that. I was coming right back at him. I’m just very thankful to be here right now. I want to thank my coaches, my family and my teammates.”

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174: Mark Hall (Penn State) dec. Bo Jordan (Ohio State), 5-2
Hall capped his true freshman season by going 31-3. He’s the 17th true freshman to win a title.
Hall: “The important thing, just have fun. I told myself over and over as soon as the negative thought came into my mind, I replaced it with Jesus loves you, NCAA champion, over and over.”

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184: Bo Nickal (Penn State) dec. Gabe Dean (Cornell), 4-3
Nickal’s third-place finish at the Big 10 Championships was washed away with a national championship. Nickal was awared the Gorriaran Award for most falls in the least amount of time during the tournament.

197: J’den Cox (Missouri) dec. Brett Pfarr (Minnesota), 8-2
Cox, an Olympic bronze medalist, picked up his third straight national championship.
Cox: “I’m honored to have accomplished another great feat, not only for myself but for my school, for my teammates and for my family. I have a lot of respect for the history of the school, the respect of the people that came before me and that paved the way for me to be able to do what I do day in, day out. And I’ve accomplished great feats. And I hope to become a stepping stone for someone else to come through and break that.”

HWT: Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) dec. Connor Medbery (Wisconsin), 6-3
After an Olympic gold medal, Snyder added his second national championship to his awards list.

Snyder:  “I’m just happy I could wrestle well and represent Ohio State well. I’m excited about the future of improvement, just becoming a better wrestler, but that was a pretty awesome environment. Very grateful that I could compete in front of all those people.”



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