The NCAA wrestling final New Jersey fans have long anticipated will take place Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.
Michigan’s Nick Suriano and Princeton’s Pat Glory will wrestle for the 125-pound championship after they both won semifinal bouts Friday night.
Three other wrestlers with New Jersey ties, including two past national champions, will join Suriano and Glory on the one center mat Saturday.
Stanford’s Shane Griffith will look to defend his 165-pound championship. Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis (174) will try to win his second national title in four years and Princeton’s Quincy Monday (157) will try to join his father Kenny as a national champion.
The final will be broadcast on ESPN Saturday at 7 p.m. The wrestleback semifinals and medal round will be on ESPN U at 11 a.m. Saturday.
SURIANO AND GLORY IS FINALLY HERE
Suriano, the 2019 133-pound champion when he was at Rutgers, defeated Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney 4-1.
Glory, the 2019 sixth-place finisher at 125 and wrestling in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since, majored Cornell’s Vito Arujau 13-5.
The two combined for six NJSIAA championships and eight state final appearances during their scholastic careers.
Suriano won four state titles and went 159-0 at Bergen Catholic from 2012-2016. Glory won state titles in 2017 and 2018 and was a four-time finalist at Delbarton.
Glory is also Princeton’s first finalist since Greg Parker at 174 in 2002. Bradley Glass, at heavyweight in 1951, is Princeton’s only national champion. Glory is just the fifth finalist for Princeton since Glass. Besides Parkr, Emil Deliere at 190 in 1972; John Sefter at heavyweight in 1978, John Orr at 142 in 1985 were the others.
Glory, in defeating Arujau for the second time in three meetings on the season and in avenging a 19-6 major decision defeat in the EIWA final on March 6, took command in the second period after he took a 3-2 lead with a takedown
In a wild scramble in which both wrestlers had a chance to put the other to their back with a cradle, Glory maintained control and put Arujau to his back with the cradle. That made it 7-2.
Arujau closed to within 7-5 on a locking hands call and reversal, but Glory pulled away with a takedown and two more back points.
This time last year, Glory could only watch in frustration because the Ivy League did not allow its teams to have a season due to the pandemic.
“I was starting at the screen (television screen) wanting to put my head through it, to be totally honest with you,” Glory said in an interview on ESPN after the bout. “To do all the work and not be able to reap the benefits of it was horrible.
“I’m so blessed to back here. I want to thank my family, my friends, my coaches, my teammates, everyone who supported me here. I’m excited to win tomorrow.”
Suriano, who will compete in his third final (he was defeated by Iowa’s three-time champion Spencer Lee in the 2018 125-pound final). took control against Courtney with a takedown with 1:57 left in the first period. He then rode Courtney out in the second period.
Griffith showed why he is a champion with a dramatic 7-6 win over No. 1 seed Evan Wick of Cal Poly on a takedown with three seconds remaining.
Had Griffith not recorded the takedown, Wick, who had defeated Griffith three times this season, would have won on the riding time point.
“You keep wrestling until the whistle stops,” Griffith said. “I actually thought the score was tied because of the riding time. I looked up and saw it was 7-5. It was awesome moment.”
Griffith, who was a three-time NJSIAA champion at Bergen Catholic, probably saved the Stanford program last season. The program was going to be a budget cut until Griffith won his title.
“Last year was last year, but this year
Griffith will meet Missouri’s unbeaten Keegan O’Toole in the final.
Lewis, the 2019 165-pound champion, showed his overall talents with his pin of Michigan’s Logan Massa.
With the score tied 1-1 in the final minute, Massa was in deep on a shot, but Lewis came out the back door, put Massa to his back and pin him quick and stunning fashion with 41 seconds left in the bout.
Lewis had also fought off a Massa takedown shot in the second period with his agility.
A state champion his senior season at Bound Brook, Lewis will wrestle Penn State’s defending champion Carter Starocci in the final.
MORE HISTORY FOR PRINCETON
Monday, whose father was an NCAA champion in 1984 for Oklahoma State and a Summer Olympics gold medalist in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, gave Princeton two finalists for the first time with a 3-2 win over Michigan’s Will Lewan.
“It means the world,” Monday said. “Given where this program started with Ayres (Princeton head coach Chris Ayres), the work we have put in as helped us get to the next level. Pat (Glory) has been the standard bearer for a while. He’s set the bar high and definitely helped me elevated me.”
A takedown in the first period was the difference for Monday.
The No. 5 seed, Monday will meet No. 2 seed Ryan Deakin of Northwestern in the final.
“I have to thank my coaches for the work I’ve put in and the results show,” Monday said.
RIVERA BECOMES AN ALL-AMERICAN AGAIN
Rutgers’ 141-pounder Sebastian Rivera bounced back from his quarterfinal defeat to Pitt’s Cole Matthews with a 6-2 win over South Dakota State’s Clay Carlson to earn All-American honors for the fourth time in an NCAA Tournament and fifth time overall.
Rivera can still finish third. He then defeated Minnesota’s Jakob Bergeland by technical fall later Friday night in a wrestleback quarterfinal and will meet Stanford’s Real Woods Saturday morning in a wrestleback semifinal.
The win over Bergeland clinched a top six finish for Rivera. He has four top six finishes in his career and was named a first team All-American in 2020 after the tournament was canceled. Rivera was going to be the top seed at 133 in 2020.
A takedown in the first period against Carlson gave Rivera the lead. He clinched the bout with a takedown in the final 30 seconds.
It is the eighth straight NCAA Tournament Rutgers has had at least one All-American.
Greg Bulsak (197) then made it six straight NCAA Tournaments Rutgers has had multiple All-Americans with a 3-2 win over Binghamton’s Lou Deprez on a reveral with about a minute remaining. Bulsak then rode Deprez out.
It was the third wrestleback bout win on the day for Bulsak.
He was then defeated 4-3 by Iowa State’s Yonger Bastida in a wrestleback quarterfinal and will wrestle Nebraska’s Eric Schultz in the seventh-place bout Saturday. Schutlz defeated Bulsak 4-3 Thursday night in a wrestleback quarterfinal.
Also clinching All-American berths were University of Pennsylvania 141-pounder and former Westfield High School state medal winner C.J. Composto and Oceanport’s and former Blair Academy wrestler Chris Cannon (133) of Northwestern.
Composto defeated past runner-up and three-time top four finisher Steven Micic of Michigan 10-4 in sudden victory period No. 1.
He was then defeated 14-10 by Oregon State’s Grant Willits in a wrestleback quarterfinal and will wrestle Bergeland for seventh.
Cannon pinned Pitt’s Micky Phillippi in the first period. He was then defeated 2-1 by Illinois’ Lucas Byrd in a wrestleback quarterfinal and will wrestle Oregon State’s Devan Turner for seventh.