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No. 31 seed Pentz pins No. 2 seed Schultz in opening round at 197 pounds, Iowa retains the lead in the team race at the 2021 NCAA Championships

by Mike Willis, USA Wrestling

Feature photo of Owen Pentz courtesy of Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors.

St. Louis, Mo. – Bracket busters happen every year at the NCAA Championships, and the 2021 tournament is no exception. North Dakota State freshman Owen Pentz, the No. 31 seed at 197 pounds, pulled the first massive upset of the tournament with a second period pin over Nebraska’s Eric Schultz, the No. 2 seed. Pentz was trailing, 2-0, late in the second period before reversing Schultz to his back with a fat man roll and securing the fall.

It’s an upset that no one saw coming, maybe not even Pentz himself.

“It’s a big tournament. It means a lot to a lot of wrestlers, so I’m surprised I was able to go out there and stay in the fight and pull off a pin on a kid that’s ranked high above me,” Pentz said in a post-match interview.

“It helps me know that I can compete with top-level kids in this tournament. It makes me excited for the next matches.”

In the second round, Pentz will see Penn State’s Michael Beard, the No. 15 seed.

At the completion of the first session, Iowa holds the lead in the team race by two points after advancing all ten wrestlers to the second round. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Jacob Warner, the No. 5 seed at 197 pounds was nearly pinned by NC State’s Nick Reenan, the No. 28 seed. Warner fought off his back for the better part of a period before storming back to even the match up, eventually scoring the winning takedown in sudden victory and claiming the bout, 9-7.

Penn State is in second place after advancing eight out of nine of their wrestlers to the second round. They will go head to head with Iowa next session at 157 pounds where Iowa’s fifth-seeded Kaleb Young will square off with No. 12 seed Brady Berge. The pair have yet to wrestle in college.

Missouri currently sits in third place with seven out of ten wrestlers advancing to the second round. They suffered a setback in Session 1B, with undefeated freshman Rocky Elam, the No. 7 seed, falling to Oklahoma’s Jake Woodley, the No. 26 seed, 4-1.

NC State and Arizona State are tied in fourth-place, trailing Iowa by six points. NC State advanced eight wrestlers to the second round, while ASU advanced six.

Session 2A starts at 5 p.m. CST and will feature the 125-157 pound matches before moving into Session 2B at 8:00 p.m. CST, which will conclude with the 165-285 pound brackets.

NCAA Div. I Championships

At St. Louis, Mo.

Team scores after session 1 (Top 15 Teams)
1. Iowa 19.0
2. Penn State 17.0
3. Missouri 14.0
4. Arizona State 13.0
4. NC State 13.0
6. Oklahoma State 12.5
7. Michigan 12.0
8. Nebraska 11.5
9. Virginia Tech 9.0
10. Minnesota 8.0
10. Northern Iowa 8.0
12. Central Michigan 7.0
12. Northwestern 7.0
12. Pittsburgh 7.0
15. Lehigh 6.0
15. Navy 6.0
15. Ohio State 6.0
15. Wyoming 6.0

Session 1B Notable Upsets


No. 21 Peyton Hall (West Virginia) MD No. 12 Jake Keating (Virginia), 14-4

No. 20 Trenton Munoz (Arizona) DEC No. 13 Jackson Hemauer (Northern Colorado), 6-2

No. 20 David Key (Navy) FALL No. 13 Christopher Weiler (Wisconsin), 5:48
No. 23 Charles Small (Hofstra) DEC Tate Samuelson (Wyoming), 3-2 (TB-1)

No. 26 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) DEC No. 7 Rocky Elam (Missouri), 4-1
No. 31 Owen Pentz (North Dakota) FALL No. 2 Eric Schultz (Nebraska), 4:51

No. 21 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State) DEC No. 12 Christian Lance (Nebraska), 2-1

Session 1A Notable Upsets


No. 23 Robert Howard (Penn State) DEC No. 10 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State), 6-4

No. 20 Ryan Sullivan (West Virginia) DEC No. 13 Zach Redding (Iowa State), 4-3 (TB-2)
No. 22 Mario Guillen (Ohio) DEC No. 11 Anthony Madrigal (Oklahoma), 4-2 (SV-2)

No. 21 Real Woods (Stanford) DEC No. 12 Grant Willits (Oregon State), 6-3
No. 20 Brian Courtney (Virginia) DEC No. 13 DJ Lloren (Fresno State), 10-5
No. 26 Colin Valdiviez (Northwestern) DEC No. 7 Ian Parker (Iowa State), 8-5

No. 25 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) DEC No. 8 Jaden Abas (Stanford), 6-2
No. 20 Joshua Heil (Campbell) DEC No. 13 Mitch Moore (Oklahoma), 2-1
No. 23 Tristan Lara (Northern Iowa) DEC No. 10 Mike Van Brill (Rutgers), 12-7

No. 26 Johnny Lovett (Central Michigan) DEC. No. 7 Jarrett Jacques (Missouri), 3-2
No. 23 Jacob Wright (Wyoming) DEC. No. 10 Justin Thomas (Oklahoma), 5-4 (TB-2)