The Sun Devils will return home a champion from Pittsburgh. Reigning champ #3 Zahid Valencia (174 lb.) kept his NCAA title from a year ago on Sunday.
With attention turned to the most anticipated match of the evening: Valencia and Penn State’s Mark Hall in the 174 lb. title round for a second straight year. Both Hall and Valencia each possessed a NCAA title under their belt.
Valencia had beaten Hall last year in the finals, but lost to him in December during the regular season. On Saturday night in Pittsburgh, Valencia became the first Sun Devil ever to win back-to-back championships in back-to-back years staying at the same weight class.
After trailing 3-1, Valencia came through with a huge takedown in the second period to tie the score at 3-3. Penn State challenged, but to no avail. He escaped to start the third, and that was all the breathing room he needed to come away with a 4-3 decision and a second national championship. Valencia finished his junior season as a national champion with a win percentage of 94%.
Additional from the 2019 NCAA’s conclusion on Sunday junior #3 Josh Shields (165 lb.) finished sixth, grad student #9 Christian Pagdilao (157 lb.) finished seventh.
The final day started with Shields (165 lb.) wrestling against Lock Haven’s #5 Chance Marsteller for a spot in the third place match later on. Shields was able to come out on top against Marsteller 2-1 earlier in the season in a matchup that went into overtime.
The first period was relatively quiet, until Marsteller took down Shields to go up 2-0 heading into the second. Shields came up with an escape in the second, and was trailing by one going into the third. Marsteller scored a reversal on Shields, who followed that up with an escape making it a two point deficit with a minute to go. In the end, Shields lost 4-3 and would be wrestling for fifth place later in the morning.
Following Shields was the graduate student Pagdilao (157 lb.) who was matched up with Old Dominion’s #7 Larry Early for seventh place. Pagdilao ended the first leading 2-1, and snuck away from Early in the second to take a two point lead. Pagdilao gave up an escape as the third period got underway, but was able to finish out his ASU career with a 3-2 decision victory. He ended his career with the Sun Devils as an All-American, and finished the season with a win percentage of 75%.
Next it was Shields back on the mat wrestling for fifth place and career win 99 against #7 Isaiah White of Nebraska. He ended up going down 8-4, but finished sixth overall and will now start his senior season at Arizona State two wins shy of 100. Shields finishes his junior season as an All-American for the Sun Devils with a win percentage of 84%.
The season ended on a high note for Arizona State Men’s Wrestling, who can now take a short breather... at least for the time being.