Warrior Weekly: B1G Wrestling Championship


This week, Aiden Chitkara goes in-depth about March Madness.

CJ Brown

For the latest edition of Warrior Weekly, I’m going to be covering a topic that gets close to zero coverage on the national scale: NCAA wrestling and the Big 10 Championships.

Everyone knew going into the tournament that it would come down to Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera and Iowa’s Spencer Lee. Neither wrestler disappointed, and both of them got to the finals with major decisions and falls throughout the bracket. In an absolutely wild finals match, Rivera scored a takedown in overtime to secure his place as Big 10 champion, defeating Lee 6-4. Lee has had a tough few days, as last weekend he was pinned by Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni and is looking to rebound in time for the NCAA national tournament on March 21.

The 133 lb. weight class is the most dominant weight class the NCAA has seen in recent memory. The number one 133 in the country, Stevan Micic, mysteriously medically forfeited after advancing to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket was the matchup the entire wrestling world had been looking forward to. Iowa’s Austin DeSanto vs. Rutgers’ Nick Suriano from was set to be the biggest match of the tournament following the theatrics of the last time they met. This time, however, the tables turned and Suriano took down DeSanto at the end of the third with blood spewing all over his face to secure a 6-3 decision. Suriano went on to beat Ohio State’s Luke Fletcher 4-1 in the finals.

The 141 weight class was full of surprises this weekend. Penn State’s Nick Lee, who came into the tournament as a favorite to win, fell to Ohio State’s Joey McKenna 5-2 in the semis. On the other side of the bracket was a complete surprise in Nebraska’s Chad Red. Ranked 20th in the nation and eighth in the Big 10 going into the tournament, Red wrestled his way past fierce competition and into the finals. Unfortunately, that’s where the underdog story ended, as Lee defeated Red in a 9-2 finals match.

Rutgers’ Anthony Ashnault is undefeated on the season, and that didn’t change in the Big 10 tournament. The senior swept the floor with the competition and didn’t face a real challenge until the finals in a matchup with someone who, in my opinion, has the best name in all of wrestling. No. 2 ranked Micah Jordan from Penn State put up a fight, but in the end, Ashnault defeated him 8-6 in the finals.

The 157 weight class is stacked in the Big 10 as seven of the top eight wrestlers in the nation are in the conference. Despite the competition, Penn State’s Jason Nolf is an absolute animal. Nolf was easily able to defeat Nebraska’s Tyler Berger with a 12-4 major decision in the finals. The senior is hoping to win his third straight national championship and is on pace to become one of the only four-time All-Americans in the history of the sport.

The 165 bracket was exciting to watch this weekend. With two wrestlers going into the tournament undefeated, everyone knew that something was going to happen. Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph and Iowa’s Alex Marinelli were going into the tournament with their eyes on the finals, and that’s where they ended up. In somewhat of a shocker, second-ranked Marinelli defeated number one Joseph in a 9-3 blowout and earned himself the title of Big 10 champion.

It was off the mat where Penn State’s Mark Hall won the real championship. After taking care of Michigan’s Myles Amine in the finals 3-2, the 2018 national champion came off the mat and gave an interview. Prior to the tournament, Hall made a deal with FloWrestling, a company that covers wrestling tournaments, that if he played the recorder during an interview, Flo would donate $400 to THON, a Penn State student-run non-profit for childhood cancer. Hall is also adding a $100 donation of his own. Check out Hall’s musical skills below:

Two senior Goliaths stand above the rest of the competition at the 184 lb. weight class, and they were sure to meet in the finals. Ohio State’s Myles Martin and Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation respectively, and it was sure to be an epic showdown in the finals. Until it wasn’t. Rasheed forfeited the finals match, citing a knee injury that has been bothering him all season. Most likely, the senior didn’t want to suffer a loss until possibly the final match of his career. With the NCAA tournament looming in the distance, he will want to face Martin then.

Bo Nickal from Penn State is perhaps the most dominant wrestler in the world right now, and it showed this weekend at the Big 10 tournament. The two-time national champion and three-time All-American left little to doubt as he garnered a tech fall, a major decision and a 10-3 victory in the finals. Kollin Moore from Ohio State is the second-ranked wrestler in the nation, but he was no match for Nickal as Moore stalled on bottom for most of the match to avoid a pin. Nickal looks to win his second straight “Outstanding Wrestler” award at the NCAA finals this year.

It was a complete surprise when four-time high school state champion and No. 1 ranked Minnesota heavyweight Gable Steveson took the mat and didn’t win. Penn State’s Anthony Cassar wrestled at 197 last year, but after losing a wrestle-off to Bo Nickal, the senior gained 40 pounds and decided to wrestle heavyweight. In the end, it was his speed that helped the most as he secured a double-leg takedown with time winding down in the third period and secured a 4-3 victory over the freshman phenom. In what many believe will be a preview of the NCAA finals, the speed and experience won out over the strength and potential in this classic heavyweight bout.

Penn State finished in first place as a team, 35 points ahead of second-place Ohio State and 50 ahead of third-place Iowa. It was quite the weekend of wrestling in the Big 10, and everyone’s looking forward to nationals on March 21.