Sammy Sasso of Ohio State came up just short in his bid for a national title on Saturday, dropping a controversial decision to Austin O’Connor of North Carolina in the NCAA wrestling championships in St. Louis.
Sasso, a redshirt junior seeded No. 1 at 149 pounds, fell behind the second-seeded O’Connor 1-0 in the second period, then rallied to tie the score with an escape in the opening seconds of the third.
O’Connor took a 3-1 lead with a takedown with 43 seconds remaining. Sasso pulled to 3-2 with an escape with 22 seconds left and made a late move in the final seconds that OSU argued should have been awarded a two-point takedown and thus the victory.
Ohio State coaches challenged the call, but replay officials in the arena ruled in O’Connor’s favor and the match ended 3-2.
Sasso was trying to become the Buckeyes’ 24th individual national champion in wrestling.
Earlier Saturday, two other Ohio State All-Americans completed their tournaments.
At 165 pounds, Ethan Smith placed fifth at 165 pounds with a 7-5, sudden victory win over Zach Hartman of Bucknell.
Smith, a redshirt junior from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who had entered the meet as the seventh seed, had earlier dropped a 4-1 decision to Travis Wittlake of Oklahoma State in a consolation match.
And heavyweight Tate Orndorff finished in eighth place after a 13-1 loss to Greg Kerkvliet of Penn State. Orndorff, a redshirt junior from Spokane, Washington, had entered the tournament as the No. 21 seed among 32 wresters, but won four consolation matches to reach the podium.