NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships: 19 Hours and 640 Matches in Six Highly Competitive Sessions across Three Days

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NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships: 19 Hours and 640 Matches in Six Highly Competitive Sessions across Three Days

  • Every Session Televised; Every Mat, Every Match Streamed For Fifth Consecutive Year:
    • Second Round, Semifinals and Finals in Prime Time
    • First Round, Quarterfinals and Medal Round Midday
  • Penn State Goes for Seventh National Championship in Eight Seasons; Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder and Michigan’s Adam Coon on a Heavyweight Collision Course
  • Tim Johnson and Anthony Robles Return to ESPN’s TV Coverage, along with Jim Gibbons; Billy Baldwin as Guest Analyst

ESPN continues its long-standing tradition of airing the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, when it televises 19 hours of competition during six highly competitive sessions, including three in prime time, March 15, 16, and 17. For the fourth consecutive year, ESPN will stream every mat, every match via the ESPN app in addition to the television programming, resulting in more than 640 matches available for fans, marking unprecedented coverage of the sport’s pinnacle event.

Penn State’s Reign and a Potential Heavyweight Match for the Ages Headline the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships

  • Dominance: Penn State goes for its seventh National Championship in the last eight seasons, which would simultaneously extend the Big Ten’s reign to 12 straight National Championships
  • Snyder’s Final Matches: Kyle Snyder will compete for Ohio State for the final time, wrapping up a college career where he won two NCAA Championships, won a gold medal at the Olympics and became a two-time World Champion
  • A Heavyweight Matchup: Snyder will most likely face Michigan’s Adam Coon in the heavyweight finals, in their third matchup this season. Both wrestlers have one loss on the year, which was to each other.
  • Three Peat: In addition to Snyder, Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil (141), Penn State’s Zain Retherford (149), and Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez (165) all have the opportunity to become three-time national champions

Quicken Loans Arena will be hosting the event for the first time, as it returns to Cleveland for the first time since 1998.

ESPN’s Television and Streaming Coverage

ESPN’s prime-time coverage begins with the second round on Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m. ET, the second consecutive year a session from the championships’ first day has been televised on ESPN (previously has aired on ESPNU). The semifinals will also air on ESPN on Friday, March 16, before the finals shift to ESPN2 on Saturday, March 17, beginning at 8 p.m. both nights.

ESPNU will carry all the championships’ earlier sessions each day, beginning with the first round on March 15 (noon), continuing with the quarterfinals on March 16 (11 a.m.) and the concluding with the medal round on March 17 (11 a.m.)

Throughout the entire three days, during all six sessions, ESPN3 streams every single mat and match, allowing fans to follow any wrestler and/or school. During the finals ESPN3 will once again offer Off the Mat — a combination of live matches, highlights and interviews with newly crowned champions (more details below).

All television coverage and the every match, every mat feature is available via the ESPN App.

ESPN’s Coverage Highlights

  • Television coverage will often show multiple mats at one time with a scroll of both individual results and team standings continuously updating fans in real time:

  • ESPN’s scroll will let fans know which matchups are coming up next on specific mats:

  • On ESPN3, fans will be provided a menu of current matches, allowing them to choose which one to watch:

  • Team standings will keep fans up-to-date in real time; standing page will be an option on ESPN3

  • Graphics for various wrestlers:

Additional Coverage Highlights

  • ESPN3 will have announcers stationed at each mat providing commentary for each specific feed to further enhance the streaming experience.
  • ESPN will utilize still photography throughout the telecasts, capturing the event in a unique way.
  • Fans can follow the action on Twitter through @NCAAWrestling and join the conversation by tagging their tweets #NCAAWrestling

Off the Mat – ESPN3 Special During Finals:

ESPN3’s Off the Mat during the Championship Finals (March 17 at 8 p.m.) will feature some of college wrestling’s most decorated athletes – J.D. Bergman, Jim Gibbons,  Lee Kemp, and David Taylor. The former athletes turned commentators will provide viewers a unique perspective of the sport’s ultimate finale, along with Kenney who will host. Billy Baldwin will also join the coverage.
While also bringing viewers live action, the analysts — unrestricted by television parameters — will discuss each match from a tactical and mental standpoint, describing the wrestlers’ thought process before, during, and after a finals match. Off the Mat will go behind the scenes, show medal ceremonies and feature an array of guests throughout the night, including newly crowned NCAA National Champions and their coaches.


ESPN Analysts:

  • Tim Johnson: The “voice of college wrestling” returns once again to ESPN’s coverage, having been a part of it for more than a decade. Named the 2007 broadcaster of the year by the National Wrestling Media Association. His broadcasting and leadership roles in the sport of wrestling span more than 30 years, including being the director of wrestling for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as the recipient of the prestigious Order of Merit award honoring a lifetime of contributions to the sport of wrestling.
  • Anthony Robles: Now in his seventh year as an ESPN analyst, the Arizona State graduate is a three-time All-American and a 2011 NCAA National Champion. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012 and was a Medal of Courage honoree in 2012
  • Jim Gibbons: Gibbons is a former NCAA Wrestling Coach of the Year, three-time All-American, two-time Big Eight winner at Iowa State and later won an NCAA National Championship as the Cyclones head coach. He was inducted in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.


  • Lee Kemp: Won three NCAA National Championships as a wrestler at Wisconsin and three gold medals in the World Championships. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Billy Baldwin: A former standout wrestler at Binghamton University turned actor, Baldwin will be a guest analyst throughout the three days for the second straight year. He was a leader in keeping the sport in the Olympic Games having joined USA Wrestling’s Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling.

For the second consecutive year, Mike Couzens will call the action at the wrestling championships, handling all the prime-time sessions, as well as Thursday’s opening round.  Kenney returns to the coverage and will handle the play-by-play for the Quarterfinals and Medal Round.  Quint Kessenich will be the reporter on the telecasts.
For more information on the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships:

2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Schedule 

Date Time (ET) Session Network/
ESPN App Link 
Number of ESPN3 Mat Feeds
Thu, March 15 Noon –  3:30 p.m. First Round ESPNU/ Eight Mats
  7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Second Round ESPN/ Eight Mats
Fri, March 16 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Third Round  –  Quarterfinals ESPNU/
Eight Mats
  8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Fourth Round  – Semifinals ESPN/
Six Mats
Sat, March 17 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Fifth Session – Medal Round ESPNU/ Three Mats
  8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sixth Session – Championship Finals ESPN2/
One Mat

Please Note: ESPN app will have links for individual mat feeds throughout the Championship

Pictures used in this release are mock-ups and use fictitious names; they are not supposed to be factually accurate 


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner


Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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