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ASU Wrestling: NCAA’s Day Two recap

Three All-Americans for the Devils

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

The 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships continued Friday from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Entering into the second day of the competition, grad student #9 Christian Pagdilao (157 lb.), and juniors #3 Josh Shields (165 lb.) and #3 Zahid Valencia (174 lb.) were in the quarterfinals. Junior #23 Josh Maruca (149 lb.) was competing in the consolation round.

Pagdilao and Maruca hit the mats first for Arizona State, going up against #1 Jason Nolf of Penn State and #9 Justin Oliver of North Carolina State respectively.

After the first period, Pagdilao was trailing 8-3, and Maruca was down 2-0. Going into the final period, Nolf had entered into major decision territory against Pagdilao. Maruca was keeping it close, but was still losing by three.

Maruca’s season ended after he lost by decision 9-5. Furthermore, Pagdilao dropped into the consolations after suffering a 23-6 tech fall against Nolf.

Shields was up next looking for his 98th career victory against the University of Northern Iowa’s #11 Bryce Steiert. A takedown in the first followed by an escape in the second allowed him to enter the third up 3-0. Shields scored another two points in the third and he was on his way to a 6-0 decision for win number 98.

Not only did this win put him two away from the coveted 100, but Shields qualified for the semifinals Friday night. Shields is now a two-time All-American as well.

Valencia followed looking to advance to the semis in primetime. He had no problems, securing a fall in the first period and claiming All-American honors for a third straight year. Valencia became just the 10th Sun Devil ever to be named an All-American three times, and his 99th win of his ASU career set him up for a third straight appearance in the semifinals.

The evening session kicked off with Pagdilao on the mat six versus Pittsburgh’s #12 Taleb Rahmani. After getting down early, Pagdilao turned things around and came away with a big 13-7 decision win. The win certified Pagdilao as an All-American, and he was forced to go up against Michigan’s #4 Alec Pantaleo in a round that would determine his placement match on Saturday.

Pagdilao had beaten him earlier in the season when the Wolverines came to Tempe, but Pantaleo got his revenge. Pagdilao lost 9-4 and will now be wrestling for seventh place Saturday morning.

Shields was the second Devil wrestling in primetime action. He was trying to keep his hot streak going against two-time national champion #2 Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State, whom he had lost to in major decision fashion back in December. Shields trailed by one with under two minutes, but couldn’t pick up a point to send it to OT. Shields still has an opportunity to finish strong on Saturday.

Valencia’s 100th career win punched him a ticket to the title round. By picking up an 11-3 major decision over Missouri’s #2 Daniel Lewis, Valencia advanced to Saturday night’s championships for a second consecutive year. It was a revenge match for Valencia, who lost to Lewis earlier this year inside Wells Fargo.

Lewis is one of two wrestlers to beat Valencia over the course of this season. #1 Mark Hall, who beat Valencia when the Sun Devils traveled to University Park back in December, is who he will be facing for the top spot on the podium tomorrow night.

The medal round starts tomorrow at 11 am ET on ESPNU. Championships are at 7 pm ET on ESPN.