PITTSBURGH — Gophers freshman Gable Steveson lost to Anthony Cassar of Penn State 4-3 on Friday night in one of the heavyweight semifinals at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena.
Cassar, a senior with a 30-1 record, beat Steveson by the identical score on March 10 in the heavyweight final of the Big Ten tournament. That was Steveson’s first loss after a 30-0 start.
In the rematch, Steveson took a 2-0 lead into the third period after two stalling calls on Cassar and an escape. But Cassar got a quick escape of his own and then got a takedown for a 3-2 lead and rode Steveson for a while. Steveson finally escaped for a 3-all tie and nearly got a takedown in the closing seconds. But he didn’t. So Cassar, with 1 minute and 1 second of riding time for an extra point, got the victory.
Steveson, who can still finish as high as third with two wins on Saturday, dominated his first three opponents in the NCAA tournament, winning on a technical fall and two major decisions, outscoring them 50-12. Those 12 points against him were all on escapes.
He beat Oregon State’s Amar Dhesi 11-1 on Friday morning in the quarterfinals. Dhesi, a sixth-year senior, placed third in the NCAA meet a year ago.
Steveson entered the NCAA meet seeded third behind Cassar at No. 2 and Oklahoma State’s Derek White at No. 1. White also reached the championship match.
Three other Gophers are still alive in consolation. Mitch McKee, at 141, can also place third with two wins. Ethan Lizak and Devin Skatzka will wrestle for seventh place at 133 and 174 pounds, respectively. The Gophers are tied for eighth in the team standings with Michigan at 48 points.
Penn State, trying to win its eight title in nine years, has five wrestlers in the finals, including Mark Hall, a junior from Apple Valley at 174. The Nittany Lions have 120.5 points — 32 more than second-place Ohio State. Hall (30-0) won a national title at his present weight in 2017 and was the national runner-up last year.