OSU's McKenna loses last-second lead, title
PITTSBURGH — The NCAA wrestling championship at 141 pounds was within seconds for No. 2 seed Joey McKenna of Ohio State.
He led top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell by a point Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena. But suddenly, Diakomihalis brought down McKenna for a two-point takedown before McKenna escaped to keep it tied as time expired.
Ohio State coach Tom Ryan threw the challenge brick on the takedown, but the call was confirmed. The match went to sudden victory. Diakomihalis grabbed McKenna by the leg and slammed him down for the takedown to win 6-4.
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“When you’re up with 5-6 seconds to go to win a national championship, that’s a painful way to lose,” Ryan said. “It’s always painful to lose, but that was a tough one.”
McKenna’s match summed up the night for the Buckeyes, who sent three wrestlers to the finals only to see all three fall. In the team competition, Ohio State placed second for the third consecutive year, with 96.5 points. Penn State won with 137.5.
Also falling in the finals from Ohio State were Micah Jordan at 149 pounds and Kollin Moore at 197.
Moore fell 5-1 to Penn State’s Bo Nickal, who won his third national title.
Nickal struggled to bring down Moore toward the end of the first period but grabbed a 2-0 lead on a takedown. They traded escape points before Moore had a shot at wrapping up Nickal and taking him down. But Nickal refused to fall, instead finding his way out of Moore’s grasp before cradling him with fewer than 20 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“That shot was there in Big Tens and he squared up, and it was even more there here,” Moore said. “I’m used to guys falling to their hands when I hit that shot. He stands up and turns in.”
Top-seeded Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers got the best of Jordan in a 9-4 win.
After Jordan took an early lead, Ashnault had a takedown in the second period to take a 2-1 advantage into the third, when he added an escape point early. Jordan had a takedown to tie it at 3, but when he attacked, Ashnault countered and put Jordan in a cradle, grabbing the near fall points.
“That’s what pretty much sealed the deal for him,” Jordan said. “I was going for my offense, that’s where I’m good at. I got a takedown on him and then I was going for another one, and then he locked up the cradle on me.”
The Buckeyes’ only top seed in the meet was Myles Martin at 184 pounds, who bounced back from losing his semifinal match Friday to place third with a 5-3 decision over Ryan Preisch of Lehigh. Martin said he was “a little overly confident” Friday, when he lost to Cornell’s Maxwell Dean.
Luke Pletcher of Ohio State placed fourth at 133 pounds for the second straight year, falling 6-1 to Michigan’s Stevan Micic in the third-place match.