Viewed by many as the top wrestler regardless of weight class, Penn State 165-pound senior David Taylor (35-0) is one of three unbeatens heading into Saturday night’s finals. Taylor notched falls in his first three matches and remained unbeaten with a win over North Dakota State’s Steven Monk.
The other two unbeatens are Maryland senior Jimmy Sheptock (34-0), the top seed at 184 pounds; and 141-pound No. 4 seed, Virginia Tech junior Devin Carter (21-0).
“It’s special and cool to be undefeated, but it’s really about finishing it off with a national title,” Sheptock said.
NESS STUNS GREEN IN QUARTERFINALS
Minnesota’s Dylan Ness had never finished worse than fourth in two previous trips to the NCAA Wrestling Tournament. Yet, he entered this season’s tournament as the No. 9 seed at 157 pounds after finishing sixth at the Big Ten Tournament.
On Friday morning, Ness pulled off a stunning pin over No. 1 seed James Green of Nebraska in the quarterfinals. Ness’ third-straight pin of the tournament avenged a 7-3 loss to Green at the Big Ten Tournament.
While Ness stopped short of saying he felt disrespected by the seed, he did say he felt “a little bit” of vindication.
“It’s just a seed, and I wasn’t too worried about it,” Ness said. “I figured I’d be lower than I should. Nothing I can do about it but keep wrestling.”
In the night session, Ness continued his underdog run with a 6-4 win over Ian Miller from Kent State in the semifinals.
MORE FLOOR SEATS
The finals Saturday night will be held on a 2-foot-tall stage compared to a 4-foot platform when Oklahoma City hosted the 2006 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
The short stage allows officials to feature 800 floor seats for Saturday night’s finals compared to 400 floor seats when the Chesapeake Arena hosted the event eight years ago.
Oklahoma City All Sports Association executive director Tim Brassfield said changes inside Chesapeake Arena have enhanced the fan experience compared to the 2006 event.
“There are so many more amenities like sky boxes and the courtside club,” Brassfield said. “Everything that’s different is a plus for the fans and the event. With the energy and tenacity of wrestling fans, our job is to do everything we can to meet their needs.”