Boris Novachkov came closer than any Cal Poly wrestler in the past 35 years, but his quest for a national title was stopped short Saturday.
The lone consolation is that he’ll have one more chance.
Novachkov, who capped his junior season with a 31-2 record, fell 3-2 in the 141-pound final at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia, losing to Michigan’s Kellen Russell in a rematch of Novachkov’s only previous defeat this season.
Novachkov became the third Mustangs grappler in the past four years to reach a championship final, joining former teammates Chase Pami, who made an underdog run last season, and Chad Mendes, who saw an undefeated season end in defeat in 2008.
Of the three, only Novachkov’s decision loss came down to a single point, and it followed a similar script to his 3-2 match against Russell (38-0) in the finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December.
At the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, third-seeded Novachkov and No. 1 Russell battled to a scoreless stalemate after the first period.
In the second, Novachkov racked up a minute of riding time and Russell hurt his ankle before the Wolverines’ grappler was able to earn a point on the escape.
Russell then negated Novachkov’s riding time point by denying him an early escape in the third period and sealed the match by countering a shot attempt for a two-point takedown.
After an escape, Novachkov had less than 30 seconds to score a takedown and came up empty.
Only two Cal Poly wrestlers have claimed national titles at the Division I level. Mark DiGirolamo was the last at 118 pounds in 1976. Tom Cline claimed the 191-pound title in 1969.
Penn State, led by 184-pound champion Quentin Wright, won its first NCAA team title in 58 years by outpointing Cornell. The Nittany Lions finished with 107 1⁄2 points to Cornell’s 93 1⁄2.
Wright began the tournament as the ninth seed and won his first national title with a 5-2 decision over Lehigh's Rob Hamlin.
Nebraska senior Jordan Burroughs, (36-0), one of five wrestlers to finish the tournament undefeated on the year and the first two-time national champ in program history, dominated the 165 weight class. He took the championship match with an 11-3 victory against Oklahoma's Tyler Caldwell.
In the only pin of the night, Arizona State's Bubba Jenkins, who spent four years at Penn State before he transferred, dispatched Nittany Lions' freshman David Taylor in 4:14 at 157 pounds.
In the opening match of the night, Arizona State's Anthony Robles took a 7-1 decision from Iowa sophomore Matt McDonough. Robles, who was born without a right leg, got the only takedown in the first period of the match and worked a pair of tilts to secure five back points.
The three-day event drew a record attendance of 104,260.
WOMEN’S TENNISCal Poly 5, Texas Arlington 1
With their sixth straight victory, the Mustangs have now won 10 of their past 11 matches.
Alexa Lee and Margarita Spicin got the Mustangs started with wins in the first two singles matchups, and after Maria Martinez-Romero defeated Florence Lehane, Cal Poly didn’t lose again in singles play.
Wins in the first two doubles matches completed the victory. The Mustangs will return to action Tuesday against Dartmouth.
Cal Poly’s doubleheader against UCLA has been rescheduled for a second time because of rain. After two games in the three-game series were moved Saturday, Cal Poly announced that the teams will attempt to play a single game today at 6 p.m. and then a doubleheader Monday at 1 p.m.
Cuesta vs. Moorpark postponed
Cuesta’s game against Moorpark has been postponed because of weather conditions. The matchup will be rescheduled to a later date.
Cal Poly’s match against Eastern Washington was canceled because of weather conditions.
All of Cal Poly’s matchups — against UNLV, Iowa State and host Stanford — in the Louisville Slugger Tournament were canceled because of weather conditions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.