PITTSBURGH — Iowa’s Kaleb Young struggled as spectator at last season’s national wrestling tournament.
Unable to secure a postseason spot in the lineup, sharing some time at 174 in the regular season, he was forced to watch his teammates compete from the stands. Young remembered the agonizing feeling.
“It sucked the whole time, man,” Young said. “I watched it from the bleachers and just had kind of a sour feeling in my stomach the whole time. It’s not a place you want to be for a guy like me, guys on my team. It’s not what we go to Iowa to do.”
In his first season as a full-time starter, Young transitioned from the sidelines to semifinalist at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Friday at PPG Paints Arena. Young continued his impressive start with a 7-5 sudden victory decision over Northwestern’s third-seeded Ryan Deakin in the 157-pound quarterfinals and locked up All-American honors.
“It feels good,” Young said. “It’s a lot better than watching from the stands like I did last year.
“I’ve got to keep it going. I’ve got to get better every year.”
Young had to avenge a loss to Deakin from the Midlands Championships in December. Deakin won that bout 6-2, but Young scored two takedowns in the opening period Friday and the decisive one just 13 seconds into overtime.
“I was kind of feeling it, but if I’m feeling it that means he’s feeling it just as much, if not more,” Young said. “You get to your attacks, you finish fast and it makes it hard on the guy.”
Young, who dropped two weights to get in the lineup, scorched his first two opponents for 30 total points, increasing his bonus-point win total to 12. The victory over Deakin was 23rd this season. Young said his stinginess and ability to get to his attacks go hand-in-hand.
He has avoided the pressure that can hinder some wrestlers on this stage, embracing the opportunity. After all, he has worked for this all season.
“There’s something about this atmosphere,” Young said. “It’s awesome.”
The third session of the NCAA tournament was extended a little longer than normal Friday afternoon. Missouri’s 20th-seed Zach Elam and Northwestern’s No. 12 Conan Jennings wrestled almost 13 minutes in front of the smattering of fans that stuck around for the conclusion of the last match of the round.
Elam won the heavyweight consolation match, 3-1, in the third tiebreaker. They were tied 1-1 after seven minutes of regulation. Three sudden victory periods of one minute each and two sets of two tiebreaker periods weren’t enough to decide things.
Jennings rode Elam out in the first period of the third tiebreaker. Elam chose neutral and scored a takedown late in the final 30-second frame.
Penn State bonus points
Penn State almost doubled its lead at the end of the quarterfinals and third-round consolations Friday afternoon. The Nittany Lions’ penchant for bonus points has been a key factor in their run to seven titles in the last eight years and they seem to be at it again.
Penn State had amassed 22 bonus points, giving them 80 points before the semifinals and a 13 1/2 –point lead over Ohio State. The 22 bonus points alone would have been enough to put them in a 17th-place tie with Lehigh.
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Penn State led the field with six semifinalists, while Ohio State had five and Oklahoma State advanced four.
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