LANCASTER, Pa. -- The 2,800 spectators that piled into Mayser Gymnasium looking for some of the best wrestling action in the country were not disappointed. Last night, Franklin and Marshall hosted the 34th Annual National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic, an event that showcases some of the best collegiate wrestlers in the country. In the mix of 22 grapplers were seven top-ranked wrestlers and seven second-ranked wrestlers. And five of the 11 matches were between the top two wrestlers in their weight class. Also in the mix was Penn's very own Yoshi Nakamura. And the Quakers' senior co-captain did not disappoint. He defeated Cole Sanderson of Iowa State in a 9-3 decision. Nakamura, who is currently ranked fifth in the nation, was originally slated to take on No. 2 Bryan Snyder of Nebraska. Snyder pulled out, however, so Nakamura ended up wrestling Sanderson, the nation's seventh-best wrestler at the 157-lb. slot. The last minute change was upsetting for both Nakamura and Penn coach Roger Reina. "I was very disappointed," Nakamura said. "I wanted to push myself to the limit and wrestle the best competition, and he backed out. There's nothing I can do about that." Though Nakamura knew this would not be a chance for him to move up in the national rankings, he nonetheless had something to gain from beating Sanderson. "Yoshi had wrestled Sanderson in high school, and it was one of his few losses during his junior year," Reina said. "So that was a good opportunity for him to redeem himself and show how he's improved." Nakamura did just that in his six-point victory. And with the win, he remains undefeated in NCAA-sanctioned matches (14-0). The match began very slow, with no scoring in the first period. It appeared that Nakamura had a takedown at 1:43, but he was unable to keep his feet inbounds before the referee would have called it. The second period also fostered little action. Sanderson earned the first point of the match off an early escape just four seconds into the period, but Nakamura's takedown later in the second gave him the 2-1 advantage going into the final period. Once the bell signaled the beginning of the last two minutes, Nakamura began to take control. Sanderson gave him a free escape to start the period, making the score 3-1. Just seconds later, Nakamura picked Sanderson up off the ground. This would lead to the first of Nakamura's three takedowns in the period. Sanderson's only points the entire match were on three escapes. With just 15 ticks left on the clock and the score standing at 9-3, the match looked to be over without any further excitement. But the 1999 EIWA Champion always finds a way to make things just a little more interesting. In the closing moments, Nakamura moved in on an unsuspecting Sanderson and nearly pinned him. "I thought I had the pin, but you can't count on that," Nakamura said. "I just kept wrestling tough until the match ended. Unfortunately, I didn't get the pin, but I still won the match." Of the five top-ranked wrestlers that competed last night, two were upset. Most notably, 165-pounder Joe Heskett of Nebraska lost to No. 2 Don Pritzlaff of Wisconsin, 3-2, when he was unable to ride Pritzlaff out for 30 seconds in overtime. At the meet's conclusion, Reina summed up the magic of the night. "It's just great to be here and be involved," Reina said. "To have one of our athletes compete, and compete well... made it an amazing night."Comments powered by Disqus
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