Lions send eight top-five seeds to NCAA wrestling championships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, winners of five of the last six NCAA championships, heads to the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships with eight top five seeds among its nine national qualifiers. Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad has two No. 1 seeds.

Penn State's nine national qualifiers feature six underclassmen, two of which are true freshmen. The Lions, winners of last year's NCAA title, will be gunning for their sixth national championship in the last seven years. All eight of Penn State's seeded wrestlers are in the top five.

True freshman Nick Suriano is the No. 3 seed at 125. Suriano, who was injured in Penn State's dual meet win at Oklahoma State on Feb. 19 and injury defaulted out of the Big Ten championship, will meet Buffalo's Kyle Akins in the first round. He entered the Oklahoma State dual ranked No. 2 nationally with a 16-1 record and heads to NCAAs with a 16-3 mark (the last two losses by injury default). He is 6-2 versus the field.

Senior Jimmy Gulibon is unseeded at 141. Gulibon, an All-American at 133 in 2015, is unseeded at 141 will take on No. 13 Javier Gasca of Michigan State in the opening round. Gulibon was ranked as high as No. 10 nationally during the season and heads to St. Louis with a 14-10 overall record, including eight wins vs. the field.

Junior Zain Retherford is the No. 1 seed at 149. Retherford, who won the NCAA title at 149 last year and is a two-time All-American, will meet Joshua Maruca of Arizona State in the opening round. Retherford is 23-0 on the year with 16 pins, three tech falls and a major. He is 11-0 versus the NCAA field heading to St. Louis. He is coming off winning his second straight Big Ten individual title on March 4-5.

Sophomore Jason Nolf is the No. 1 seed at 157. Nolf, an NCAA finalist and All-American at 157 last year, will take on Stanford's Paul Fox in the first round. Nolf owns a pin over Fox in November's dual meet this year. Nolf is 22-0 on the year with 13 pins, six tech falls and one major. Nolf is 12-0 versus the field and coming off winning his first Big Ten individual title on March 4-5.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph is the No. 3 seed at 165. He is making his first trip to NCAAs and will meet Stanford's Keaton Subjeck in round one. Joseph is 17-4 on the year with a pin, four techs and three majors. He is 9-4 versus the field this year as well.

True freshman Mark Hall is the No. 5 seed at 174. Hall is making his first trip to NCAAs and is one of two true freshmen making the trip for the Nittany Lions. Hall takes on South Dakota State's David Kocer in the first round. He is 26-3 on the year with 12 pins, two techs and five majors. Hall is 10-3 versus the field and coming off earning Big Ten runner-up status on March 4-5.

Sophomore Bo Nickal is the No. 2 seed at 184. Nickal, an NCAA finalist and All-American at 174 last year, will meet Northwestern's Mitch Sliga in the opening round. Nickal is 21-1 on the year with 14 pins and three majors. He is 15-1 versus the field, leading Penn State in wins versus the field heading to St. Louis.

Junior Matt McCutcheon is the No. 5 seed at 197. McCutcheon, making his third trip to NCAAs as a national qualifier, will take on Purdue's Christian Brunner in the opening round. McCutcheon heads to St. Louis with an 18-4 record, including a pin and two majors. He is 10-4 versus the field this year.

Sophomore Nick Nevills is the No. 5 seed at 285. Nevills is making his first trip to NCAAs and will battle winner of Ohio's Zack Parker and Lehigh's Doug Vollaro in the opening round. He has a 20-3 overall record with four pins, three techs and a major. Nevills is 9-3 versus the field this season.

The 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships take place in St. Louis on March 16-18 in the Scottrade Center. The three-day event begins on Thursday with sessions at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern. The entire NCAA championship event will air on ESPN, with all three morning sessions airing on ESPNU and all three evening sessions airing on ESPN. At-large bids will be announced on Tuesday, March 7. The full brackets and seeds will be announced on Wednesday, March 8, at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.

Last Updated March 09, 2017