Paul Donahoe, the Edinboro University wrestler we have been following this year, lost in the final of the 125-pound class of the NCAA's wrestling championships, 2-1 in triple overtime, to Troy Nickerson of Cornell in St. Louis. It was Donahoe's first loss this season.
The winning point was awarded to Nickerson on a technical violation in the second OT, when Donahoe (35-1) clasped his hands illegally in trying to prevent Nickerson (25-0) from escaping. The ESPN announcers, who did a lousy job of explaining the violation to a non-wrestling audience, made it sound like the equivalent of missing a chip-shot field goal in a football game.
"It will take Paul Donahoe a long time to forget about the fact that he lost an NCAA championship because of a technical violation against him," one of the ESPN commentators said.
"I got lucky he had that lock-and-hand call," Nickerson said after. Nickerson was very gutty, wrestling with a bad shoulder that popped out at one point and temporarily stopped the match.
Donahoe, who came to prominence after being caught posing nude on a gay porn site, looked stunned after, offering Nickerson perfunctory congratulations before running into the tunnel and the locker room. I imagine losing this way has to be more disappointing than being dominated. To my untrained eye, both wrestlers looked evenly matched and the bout could have gone longer if not for the violation.
I know a lot of our readers were rooting for Donahoe since many thought he got a raw deal being kicked off the Nebraska team (for which he won the national title in 2007) after his nude photos were discovered. Donahoe, who is straight, further endeared himself this week with his very gay-friendly comments to the Boston Globe.
ESPN made reference Saturday to Donahoe being kicked off the Nebraska team for an "improper photo shoot," but did not go beyond that. However, during Friday's semifinals, the ESPN team did mention that it was a photo shoot for a site frequented by gay men, which probably had viewers running to the Web to search "Paul Donahoe" and "gay porn."
I would love to hear from wrestling experts on the nature of the violation, how common it is and what you thought overall of the match. Or simply if you thought Donahoe looked terrific wearing white.
Update: Fleshbot has its take (they also have the pics that got Donahoe in trouble) along with the video of the final.