PITTSBURGH — Alex Mackall popped the pressure cooker Friday in the NCAA Division I Championships.

Although only Burbank native Kollin Moore remains in the NCAA Division I Championships among area wrestlers, Iowa State redshirt sophomore Mackall didn’t want to listen to people carrying on about the grind of the tournament.

He’s got nothing but great things to think about despite going 2-2 at the greatest college event the sport has to offer.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Mackall said. “You hear a lot of people talking about how much of a grind this tournament is and how hard it is, how you have to be so locked in. I think a lot of that is bullcrap. This is the most fun time of the year.

“This is what you work for every day. I don’t know why people want to make it seem like it’s so hard and that you can’t wrestle here. This is where you want to be.”

After splitting decisions on Thursday, the one-time state champ and three-time state finalist from Walsh Jesuit opened with a 7-4 win over Central Michigan’s Drew Hildebrandt.

That win was short-lived, however, as Old Dominion’s Michael McGee beat him 8-2.

Still, the 125-pounder will come home from the Steel City with motivation.

“This will drive me so much,” Mackall said. “Everyone’s goal is to be a national champ. I dropped my first match, so it’s not going to happen for me this year. After wrestling on the second day, I’m already thinking about what I want to do next year to be a national champ.”

Two Brunswick wrestlers couldn’t find their way to the podium on Day 2 either as Campbell’s Josh Heil (149) and West Virginia’s Nick Kiussis (165) found the going rough.

Kiussis, who split the first day of action, ran into Rider’s Jesse Dellavecchia in the second round of consolation.

The two-time New York state finalist and four-time high school American picked up eight points in near falls in the 14-6 loss.

“The tournament is a little bit of both,” Kiussis said. “It depends how you look at it. It’s definitely fun, but it is a grind.”

Heil lost a heartbreaker in his match against former Maryland state champion Michael Sprague.

The two wrestled to a scoreless tie in regulation and overtime to take it to ultimate tiebreaker.

Sprague was able to escape when he was on bottom, but Heil could not and lost 1-0.

The biggest bright spot came from Moore, who used to wrestle in the Wadsworth youth program.

A fourth-place finisher last season and third-place finisher as a freshman, the 197-pounder will wrestle in his first final after beating Virginia Tech’s Tom Sleigh in the quarterfinals and Oklahoma State’s Preston Weigel in the round of four.

Although it brings returning two-time national champion and four-time All-American Bo Nickal of Penn State in the final, Moore still admitted to having a good team in PPG Paints Arena.

“The waiting around and making weight, that’s the grind,” he said. “That was a lot of fun right there wrestling in the quarters. It’s just the challenge.

“You get to see everyone. It’s kind of funny. No one really says hi, but everyone gives the nod on the way by. It’s this weird wrestling code. The best of the best are competing and there’s only one time that happens and it’s right here.”

Nickal has beaten Moore twice this season and has pinned him once.

 

McNally bows out

Every tournament comes to an end at some point for every wrestler. For most, it doesn't end with a championship, or even a win.

For Kent State 184-pounder Andrew McNally (Lake), his first foray into the NCAA Wrestling Championship came to an end Friday afternoon with a 7-1 loss to Penn State's Shakur Rasheed in the second round of the consolations.

For McNally, the setback still marked a level of success. In his first year with the Golden Flashes after transferring from Eastern Michigan after the disbandment of its program, he finished 33-10 and earned his first NCAA appearance. The 33 victories was the most by a Kent State wrestler since 2013.

"He's a sophomore, so he's young," Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said. "It gets him here, which is really important. You feel the atmosphere and understand the level of competition here."

McNally helped the Golden Flashes maintain a streak of 22 consecutive NCAA championships in which they have scored with a 6-0 consolation-opener win over Oregon State's Bob Coleman on Thursday. He and teammate Tim Rooney (133 pounds) lost their tournament debuts to Lock Haven's Corey Hazel and Ohio State's Luke Pletcher, respectively, on Thursday.

— Chris Easterling