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Too close for comfort: Three teams separated by 3.5 points after 2014 NCAA semis

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Defending team titlewinners Penn State maintain the thinnest of leads at the conclusion of Friday night’s semifinals at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City, with University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State right in the thick of the team title battle.

The Nittany Lions have 91 team points, while Minnesota has 90.5. The Cowboys are right behind, with 87.5 points.

Oklahoma State has the most finalists, with four: Josh Kindig, Alex Dieringer, Tyler Caldwell, and Chris Perry. Penn State has two in the finals – David Taylor, and Ed Ruth – as does Minnesota, with Dylan Ness and Tony Nelson.

History in the making

Taylor has already made history by becoming only the fifteenth wrestler in the 80-plus years of NCAA championships to find himself in the finals for a fourth time as he goes for his second title. Ruth hopes to earn a place in the history books by becoming the first three-time NCAA champ in Penn State’s more than a century of wrestling. Nelson is also seeking a history-making win, becoming Minnesota’s first three-time NCAA heavyweight champ (something that Golden Gopher heavyweight champs Cole Konrad, Brock Lesnar, Verne Gagne or Leonard Levy failed to do)… joining three-timers Earl McCready (1928-30), Dick Hutton (1947-48, 1950) and Jimmy Jackson (1976-78), all Oklahoma State big men.

A couple other bits of history: 141-pounder Devin Carter is Virginia Tech's first-ever finalist... while Jimmy Sheptock, vying for the title at 184, is Maryland's first since 1969. At heavyweight, Nick Gwiazdowski hopes to become the first North Carolina State champ since Darrion Caldwell did it in 2009, and the second Wolfpack big man to win a heavyweight title, following in the footsteps of Sylvester Terkay and the late Tab Thacker.

Champs hope to repeat

Five 2013 NCAA champs find themselves in this year’s finals. Jesse Delgado of Illinois, 125-pound champ, will face Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett. Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (133-pound champ in 2013) wrestles Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter for the 141 title… while 174 champ Chris Perry of Oklahoma State goes up against cross-state rival Andrew Howe of Oklahoma. At 184, Ruth meets top-seeded Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland… and, at heavyweight, Nelson defends against Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State.

The finals will be televised in a traditional presentation on ESPN Networks’ flagship ESPN channel, while ESPN3 will offer a new Inside the Mat presentation which promises behind-the-scenes perspective and expert analysis from wresting legends. Both broadcasts are at 8 p.m. Eastern Saturday.

Semifinals Results

125:

  • No. 1 seed Jesse Delgado (Illinois) dec. No. 5 Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa), 9-6
  • No. 2 Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) dec. No. 3 Nico Megaludis (Penn State), 6-4

133:

  • No. 5 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) dec. No. 1 Joe Colon (Northern Iowa), 6-4
  • No. 3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. No. 2 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro), 5-1

141:

  • No. 4 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) maj. dec. No. 9 Evan Henderson (North Carolina), 12-3
  • No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) dec. No. 3 Zain Retherford (Penn State), 7-3

149:

  • No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) dec. No. 1 Drake Houdashelt (Missouri), 2-1 TB
  • No. 11 Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 15 Mitch Minotti (Lehigh), 5-2

157:

  • No. 9 Dylan Ness (Minnesota) dec. No. 4 Ian Miller (Kent State), 6-4
  • No. 3 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 7 Brian Realbuto (Cornell), 7-4

165:

  • No. 1 David Taylor (Penn State) maj. dec. No. 4 Steve Monk (North Dakota State), 13-5
  • No. 2 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 3 Nick Sulzer (Virginia), 5-0

174:

  • No. 1 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 4 Mike Evans (Iowa), 3-2 TB
  • No. 2 Andrew Howe (Oklahoma) dec. No. 6 Logan Storley (Minnesota), 6-3

184:

  • No. 1 Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) dec. No. 13 Jack Dechow (Old Dominion), 3-2
  • No. 2 Ed Ruth (Penn State) dec. No. 3 Gabe Dean (Cornell), 5-3

197:

  • No. 1 Nick Heflin (Ohio State) dec. No. 4 Scott Schiller (Minnesota), 2-1 TB
  • No. 2 J'den Cox (Missouri) dec. No. 14 Chris Penny (Virginia Tech), 4-1

Heavyweight:

  • No. 1 Tony Nelson (Minnesota) dec. No. 5 Bobby Telford (Iowa), 4-2
  • No. 2 Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) dec. No. 3 Adam Chalfant (Indiana), 5-4

Team Standings (Top 10)

1. Penn State, 91 team points
2. Minnesota 90.5
3. Oklahoma State 87.5
4. Iowa 67
5. Ohio State 52
6. Edinboro 48.5
7. Cornell 46.5
8. Virginia Tech 45.5
9. Oklahoma 45
10. Illinois 37

Want to know more? For more detailed coverage of Friday's semifinals, check out InterMat and TheMat.com. And, take a look at T.R. Foley's preview/predictions for the finals at InterMat Platinum (requires a paid subscription).

Check out Mat Bracketology: See College Wrestling Examiner's weight-by-weight analysis of seeded wrestlers by clicking on the Mat Bracketology link.

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