OKLAHOMA CITY — Things weren’t perfect for Penn State on opening day at the NCAA wrestling championships, but the Nittany Lions still are in position to win their fourth straight national title.
Penn State leads with 26.5 points after Thursday’s action at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Five Nittany Lions won their first two matches and advanced to Friday morning’s quarterfinals. All 10 of Penn State’s wrestlers are still alive to score points.
Penn State’s most surprising loss on Thursday came at 197 pounds. No. 3 seed Morgan McIntosh lost to No. 14 seed Chris Penny of Virginia Tech, 3-2, in the evening session.
“He’s all right,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said of McIntosh. “Kids lose matches. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. That’s where we see tomorrow what we’re made of.”
Minnesota and Oklahoma State are tied for second with 21.5 points and Iowa and Oklahoma are tied for fourth with 20.5. Minnesota and Iowa are tied for the most quarterfinalists with six. Oklahoma State has five and Oklahoma has four.
Sanderson says Friday is very important for the wrestlers who lost on the opening day of the tournament.
“We need everybody’s best effort at this point,” he said. “It takes a lot of heart to come back and have guys coming back and placing. We need bonus points, just like Day 1. We need to keep doing the same things.”
After the morning session, Penn State led Oklahoma State 16.5-13.5, with Edinboro (Pa.) and Minnesota tied for third with 11 points.
Matthew Fritsch of the Citadel pulled off the shocker of the opening session. Fritsch, the No. 15 seed at 149, defeated No. 2 seed Nick Dardanes of Minnesota 8-5.
In the evening session, Nick’s twin brother and teammate, Christopher, was upset, too, at 141. No. 11 seed Joey Lazor of Northern Iowa knocked off No. 6 seed Dardanes with a last-second takedown. Lazor took an early lead and lost it to set up the dramatic ending.