Pennsylvania Goes Five-for-Five in NCAA Semifinals; 8 will All-American

ST. LOUIS – A total of eight Pennslyvania Wrestlers will leave St. Louis with NCAA Hardware and five of those wrestlers are going to put it all on the line in the NCAA National Finals. Pennsylvania is guaranteed at the bare minimum one NCAA National Champion as the 125 lbs. finals bout will feature former District XI stars Darian Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic/Lehigh) and Ethan Lizak (Parkland/Minnesota).

The pair were each 2-time PIAA State Champions back in high school as Darian has earned his second career NCAA All-American honors for the Mountain Hawks. Lizak, a redshirt sophomore, earned his first All-American finish in just his second trip to Nationals. The two have not faced each other in an official match since junior high but Lizak stated “It’s going to be a VEWL Finals. I wrestled him in elementary school like five times. He won most of the time, but it will be nice wrestling him just right down the road, just like club practices back in the day.”

Returning NCAA National Champion Zain Retherford (Benton Area/Penn State) made a statement against Iowa rival Brandon Sorenson in a re-math of the 2016 NCAA National Finals. When the two met on January 20th Retherford held on to a 9-8 TB-2 victory but this time Zain rolled to a fall in (2:37) to remain undefeated. It was Zain’s 58th win in a row. 

When asked about his improvement from a season ago Retherford said “…being more patient in my tie-ups and not really waiting for points to come, but, you know, not forcing anything. I think I force some stuff sometimes and even last year I got away with it at times. But it also caught up to me, too. So being patient and staying true to what I want to do.”

The momentum kept going for Pennsylvania when Jason ‘The Matrix’ Nolf stepped onto the mat at 157 lbs. Nolf returned to his second straight NCAA National Finals with a (13-5) major decision over Tyler Berger (Nebraska) to remain unbeaten on the season. The #1 seed Nolf will take on #3 seed Joey Lavallee of host program Missouri. Nolf came up short of a National Championship last season but was a major part in the Nittany Lions winning the National Championship. “I was really happy for my team, but I was still really upset because that was my goal. But I learned a lot from it, and I’m looking forward to competing tomorrow.”

Penn State made it three in a row when redshirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph wrestled arguably the best match of his career in the 165 lbs. NCAA Semifinals against the #2 seed Logan Massa (Michigan). Joseph, the #3 seed, was up (3-2) late in the third period when he was hit with his second stall warning which tied it up (3-3).

“I was pretty surprised to get hit with stalling. Maybe I was backing up a little bit or something, I don’t know. But it doesn’t happen to me too much, so I had to pick it up and start wrestling hard.” 

The two ended up in a 50/50 position when Massa put in double overhooks. Joseph countered with an inside trip as he was falling backwards and turned his hips to gather a takedown. Joseph’s (5-4) win over Massa put him into the NCAA Finals against 2x NCAA National Champion Isaiah Martinez (Illinois). The two met twice this season with IMar winning both meetings. 

Martinez stated of the match-up with Joseph, “you know, the great thing about Vincenzo is he goes out there and he shoots and he wrestles a lot. I had a feeling Vincenzo was going to beat him. He’s been looking good recently. His tendencies are to keep shooting until the other guy can’t defend himself anymore, but that works right into my plan. I have great re-shots, and I don’t wear out like those other guys, so I’m excited, another Penn State guy in the finals, and it should be a brawl.”

Three Keystone State wrestlers are alive in the consolation round as Scotty Parker (Pennridge/Lehigh) is going for seventh while Solomon Chishko (Canon-McMilan/Virginia Tech) and Michael Kemerer (Franklin Regional/Iowa) are both still in the hunt for third place.

All Pennsylvania Wrestling results from Friday and updated brackets are below!


125 lbs.

Semifinal – Darian Cruz (Lehigh) 30-2 won in sudden victory – 1 over Thomas Gilman (Iowa) 30-1 (SV-1 4-2)

Semifinal – Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 30-6 won by decision over Jack Mueller (Virginia) 27-5 (Dec 7-0)


133 lbs.

Cons. Round 4 – Scotty Parker (Lehigh) 20-4 won in sudden victory – 1 over Bryan Lantry (Buffalo) 22-7 (SV-1 6-4)

Cons. Round 5 – Eric Montoya (Nebraska) 30-5 won by decision over Scotty Parker (Lehigh) 20-4 (Dec 7-1)


141 lbs.

Cons. Round 4 – Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton) 29-4 won by major decision over Tyler Smith (Bucknell) 31-10 (MD 11-3)

Cons. Round 4 – Kevin Jack (NC State) 33-2 won by decision over Jimmy Gulibon (Penn State) 17-12 (Dec 6-4)


149 lbs.

Semifinal – Zain Retherford (Penn State) 27-0 won by fall over Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) 29-5 (Fall 2:37)

Cons. Round 4 – Micah Jordan (Ohio State) 32-4 won by decision over Laike Gardner (Lehigh) 24-10 (Dec 9-6)

Cons. Round 4 – Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech) 25-4 won by major decision over Justin Oliver (Central Michigan) 32-9 (MD 12-2)

Cons. Round 5 – Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech) 25-4 won by decision over Kenny Theobold (Rutgers) 25-11 (Dec 7-5)


157 lbs.

Semifinal – Jason Nolf (Penn State) 26-0 won by major decision over Tyler Berger (Nebraska) 35-5 (MD 13-5)

Cons. Round 4 – Michael Kemerer (Iowa) 31-3 won by major decision over May Bethea (Pennsylvania) 27-11 (MD 14-3)

Cons. Round 5 – Michael Kemerer (Iowa) 31-3 won by major decision over Paul Fox (Stanford) 28-15 (MD 15-6)


165 lbs.

Semifinal – Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) 21-4 won by decision over Logan Massa (Michigan) 30-3 (Dec 5-4)


174 lbs.

Cons. Round 4 – Myles Amine (Michigan) 30-6 won by decision over Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) 25-6 (Dec 9-4)


197 lbs.

Cons. Round 4 – Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska) 32-9 won by major decision over Matt McCutcheon (Penn State) 20-6 (MD 13-2)


285 lbs.

Cons. Round 4 – Nick Nevills (Penn State) 24-4 won by decision over Ryan Solomon (Pittsburgh) 20-6 (Dec 2-0)


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