Purdue’s Matt Ramos pins three-time wrestling champion Spencer Lee in stunning upset

Associated Press4 minute read

Purdue’s Matt Ramos pins Iowa’s Spencer Lee in colossal upset fight

Purdue’s Matt Ramos pulled off a feat by pinning three-time defending champion Spencer Lee in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship.

TULSA, Okla. – Purdue’s Matt Ramos created one of the most stunning upsets in NCAA Division I wrestling history, ending Iowa’s Spencer Lee chase for four national titles with a pin in the the last seconds of their semi-final match on Friday night.

Ramos, the No. 4 seed at 125 pounds, got the drop with a second left in the third period to end the nation’s longest winning streak at 58 games.

Ramos had expressed his belief that he could beat Lee.

“I work very hard and have faith in what I believe in, and being able to express it – I’m not trying to be arrogant or anything, but if I can’t make it known to the world, so I don’t believe that will happen,” he said.

That will leave Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis as the only wrestler still in contention for a fourth title on Saturday. He beat Penn State’s Shayne Van Ness 8-3 in their semifinal match at 149 pounds. If Diakomihalis defeats Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso in the final, he will become the fifth wrestler to win four Division I national championships.

Purdue’s Matt Ramos (left) on one of the biggest upsets in NCAA wrestling history: “It’s a dream come true for me.”Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Diakomihalis was well aware that Lee had lost ahead of his semi-final.

“In the moment it was like ‘Wow, I didn’t know what to think,'” Diakomihalis said. “I mean, he’s one of those guys who’s been very dominant – probably more dominant than me.”

Diakomihalis said he understood the pressure Lee was facing.

“You must feel a little for him, don’t you?” he said. “I’m kind of in a similar position. The whole arena is waiting for you to lose. Maybe they’re not cheering you on, but secretly in the back of their head it gets a little louder when the other guy will score.”

Penn State is closing in on its 10th national title in 12 years. The Nittany Lions have 116.5 points. Iowa is second with 77.5 points followed by Cornell (64) and Ohio State (62).

But Ramos was the story of the night. He led Lee 4-1 at the end of the first period, but Lee scored a four-point drop in the second period to take a 5-4 lead and set up the drama in the third.

Ramos will face Princeton’s Pat Glory, who beat Nebraska’s Liam Cronin 8-2 in the other semifinal, for the championship on Saturday. Glory, the No. 2 seed, is undefeated.

“It’s a dream for me,” Ramos said. “The work is not finished yet.”

The three Penn State wrestlers seeking their third national titles – Roman Bravo-Young at 133, Carter Starocci at 174 and Aaron Brooks at 184 – all advanced to the finals.

Bravo-Young earned a two-point strikeout in time for the sudden victory over Arizona State’s Michael McGee. He now has the longest winning streak in the country with 56 games.

“It was a fun game there,” Bravo-Young said. “I found a way to do it.”

Bravo-Young will face Cornell’s Vito Arujau, who beat Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix 11-3 in the other semifinal. Fix had lost three times in the final, but he was undefeated and seeded second.

Starocci defeated Cornell’s Chris Foca in the semifinals and advanced to face Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola in the finals. Starocci beat Labriola 6-1 in the Big Ten final in an undefeated battle.

No. 3 seed Brooks defeated second seed Trent Hilday of North Carolina State 6-3 in the semifinals. He will face top seed Parker Keckeisen of northern Iowa in the finals.

Penn State earned a fourth runner-up when rookie Levi Haines, the No. 2 seed, defeated Peyton Robb of Nebraska in the semifinals at 157. He will face Austin O’Connor of North Carolina in the final. The top seed went undefeated after beating Lehigh’s Josh Humphreys.

At 165, No. 1 seed David Carr beat Princeton’s Quincy Monday 6-5 in the semifinals. Monday’s father is 1988 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kenny Monday.

The other No. 1 seeds to advance to the Finals were Michigan’s Mason Parris at 285, Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi at 197 and Iowa’s Real Woods at 141.

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