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Oklahoma State's Fix, White advance to NCAA finals

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Iowa's Spencer Lee, left, grapples with Oklahoma State's Nicholas Piccinni during their 125-pound match in the semifinals of the NCAA wrestling championships on Friday in Pittsburgh. Lee beat Piccinni to advance to Saturday's finals. [AP Photo/Keith Srakocic]
Iowa's Spencer Lee, left, grapples with Oklahoma State's Nicholas Piccinni during their 125-pound match in the semifinals of the NCAA wrestling championships on Friday in Pittsburgh. Lee beat Piccinni to advance to Saturday's finals. [AP Photo/Keith Srakocic]

PITTSBURGH – Oklahoma State freshman Daton Fix and and senior Derek White battled their way into the NCAA finals Friday night with narrow semifinal victories.

Penn State pulled away in the team race by sending five wrestlers into the finals. The Nittany Lions ended the night with 113.5 points, winning three close semifinal matches, to forge 25 points ahead of second-place Ohio State. Oklahoma State was third with 73.5 and Iowa fourth with 68.5.

No. 1 seed Fix (34-1) scored a first period takedown and 1:45 rideout and went into cruise control in a tight 4-2 triumph over 133-pound fourth seed Luke Pletcher (25-6) of Ohio State.

White won his 30th straight match at 285 pounds to go 32-1 for the year, but it wasn’t easy. He twice won 3-1, and his semifinal victory over No. 4 Jordan Wood of Lehigh (24-4) came on a takedown 34 seconds into sudden victory in the semis.

Nick Piccininni (33-1) couldn’t repeat his February win over defending NCAA champ Spencer Lee (22-3) of Iowa. The third-seeded Hawkeye scored a takedown in the first and second periods and added a two-point nearfall for a 7-4 lead in the waning seconds. Piccininni gambled in the final seconds and was put onto his back to make the final score 11-4.

Preston Weigel (14-1) lost his first match of the year, succumbing to the strong leg attack of Ohio State’s Kollin Moore. The Buckeye (24-2) scored four times in the first two periods and added another in the third for a 12-4 major decision.

OSU’s 4-for-4 quarterfinals performance was highlighted by Weigel’s stunning 55-second pin of No. 4 seed Patrick Brucki (31-2). Weigel converted a takedown move on the way to the mat into a whipover for the pin.

In the quarterfinals, Fix was sharp with four takedowns in an 11-3 major decision over Missouri’s No. 8 John Erneste (20-5). Piccininni almost repeated his January 9-4 victory over No. 7 Pat Glory (28-5) of Princeton. This time it was 9-5, as the Cowboy junior posted three takedowns and a near fall.

White scored a takedown in the final five seconds of the first period, and that was enough to edge Central Michigan’s 273-pound Matt Stencel (29-5), 3-1. White was conservative the rest of the way to avoid upper body moves while working at a 30-pound weight disadvantage.

The Cowboys went 10-2 in the morning session. But the two losses eliminated All-Americans Joe Smith and Jacob Smith.

Dakota Geer (29-6) became O-State’s fifth all-American by winning three straight consolation matches. His 6-0 drubbing of Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi earned him top eight status. He fell in sudden victory, 5-3, to Ryan Preitsch of Lehigh, and will wrestle for seventh on Saturday.

Kaid Brock (22-9) posted two lopsided consolation victories but lost a heartbreaker in the medal round. Trailing LockHaven’s Kyle Shoop 6-0, Brock roared back to take a 10-8 lead with less than a minute remaining. But Shoop reversed him to his back for six points and a 14-10.

Geer gained the Round of 12 with a 4-2 triumph over No. 2 seed Shakur Rasheed (20-3). A wild, scrambling takedown was the difference. Penn State challenged the call, but the takedown stood.

Thanks to Dom Demas, Oklahoma moved from 32nd place to 21st with 14 points. The Big 12 Conference's 141-pound champ (32-8) became the first All-American under third-year head coach Lou Roselli.

Demas scored three quick takedowns against Matt Findlay (17-4) of Utah Valley and breezed into the top eight with a 17-7 major decision. Then he hit Shoop with three takedowns and a reverse for a 10-4 romp to gain Saturday’s consolation semifinals.

Eliminated in Friday’s morning session were 149-pounder Davion Jeffries (24-13) and 197-pounder Jake Woodley (22-11).

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NCAA Championships notebook, Page D2

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