What better way to start off the wrestling season than with a big time showdown? After taking care of Lock Haven on Friday night, Penn State travels south on I-81 towards Blacksburg, VA, for a fight with the 6th-ranked Hokies.
Last season, this was a dual to remember. The Hokies visited Rec Hall, and came after our Lions with everything they had. Penn State, like the champs they are, fought back and prevailed, 20-15, in overtime, in the last match of the night. The takedown count? Penn State 16, VaTech 15.
This year's dual figures to be another great one. The Hokies are on fire to start the year, nearly posting a shutout (32-3) over 13th-ranked Iowa State last week. This is recruiting bragging rights, and a program measuring stick, as far as VT head coach Kevin Dresser is concerned. Coach Dresser has put a target on Penn State's back, and will have his team ready to fight. The Hokie arena will be packed. This should be electric. Prepare your heart for fireworks.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at #6 Virginia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
When: Sunday, 11/15, 1pm ET
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: Also Free, via ESPN3, and the WatchESPN app
|No.1 Penn State||WT||No.6 Virginia Tech|
|#2 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||#6 - Joey Dance (Jr., Christiansburg, VA)|
|#8 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||#18 - Kevin Norstrem (So., Brandon, FL)|
|#2 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)||141||UR - Solomon Chishko (Fr., Jeanette, PA)|
|#2 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||#13 - Sal Mastriani (Jr., Towaco, NJ)|
|#6 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||#3 - Nick Brascetta (Sr., St. Paris, OH)|
|#14 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)||165||UR - Dave McFadden (Fr., West Milford, NJ)|
|#14 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||#3 - Zach Epperly (So., Christiansburg, VA)|
|#14 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)||184||UR - Zack Zavatsky (Fr., Latrobe, PA)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||#17 - Jared Haught (So., Parkersburg, WV)|
|UR - Jan Johnson (TrFr., Mohnton, PA)||285||#2 - Ty Walz (Jr., St.Edward, OH)|
125 LBS - Match of the Meet 1
Make no mistake - Joey Dance spent all off-season training with this match against Nico at the front of his mind. Nico schooled Dance in the medal rounds at NCAAs two seasons ago. Last year, with Nico taking a redshirt, Dance earned the 3-seed at the tourney, before giving up a late takedown in the quarters, and bouncing from the tournament. That makes for a very long off season. This is gonna be a battle.
Prediction: Nico by decision
Score: PSU 3, VaTech 0
133 LBS - Match of the Meet 2
Norstrem is long, lean, and funky. Too funky, probably, for his own good at times. But he's certainly talented. Look for this to be another back-and-forth, very closely contested bout. Jordan has to get out from bottom quickly, and push the pace from neutral.
Prediction: Conaway by decision
Score: PSU 6, VaTech 0
Chisko is currently unranked, but it's doubtful that he'll be unranked for very long this season. The former PIAA champ won't be shy about tangling with Jimmy. But I think Jimmy's experience proves to be too much.
Prediction: Gulibon by decision
Score: PSU 9, VaTech 0
Sal Mastriani will use very heavy hands on your head, and shoot a left-handed high crotch - a lot. Unfortunately for Sal, that's exactly the kind of party that Zain Retherford likes. You're not going to bully Zain. I think Zain takes it to Sal, here.
Prediction: Zain by MAJOR
Score: PSU 13, VaTech 0
157 LBS - Match of the Meet 3
Brascetta is a horse. Dude is big for '57, and strong-like-bull. He's also pretty talented, as a multi-time All-American, and former Midlands champ. This will be a whale of an early test for Jason Nolf. Pull off the upset, and Nolf's star gets launched into the message board stratosphere, from whence it may never return. Perhaps a close loss wouldn't be the worst thing in the world?
Prediction: Brascetta by decision
Score: PSU 13, VaTech 3
Stretch, relax, drink a bunch of fluids. Gobble a bunch of empty calories, just because you can. Feel zero guilt that you're watching disciplined guys on a strict diet that would make you curl into the fetal position.
Your guess is as good as mine. Neither of us knows who Dave McFadden is, but I can at least tell you that he beat Iowa State's #10 Tanner Weatherman last week, 4-3. So, McFadden can probably wrestle. And since this preview is being written BEFORE we've seen Shakur Rasheed, we know even less about our own guy.
Prediction: Let's give this one to the Hokies.
Score: PSU 13, VaTech 6
174 LBS - Match of the Meet 4
Zach Epperly is half ape. He's huge. If he backed off his diet, I bet he'd be two-bills inside of 10 days. He cleared the All-American hurdle as a freshman, and beat national champ Matt Brown last year, at Rec Hall, in overtime. The kid can wrestle. Like his classmate Nolf at 157, this is a great early marker for young Bo.
Prediction: Epperly by decision
Score: PSU 13, VaTech 9
Last year Austin Gabel beat Matt McCutcheon, fair and square. This year, Gabel lost his spot in the lineup to Zack Zavatsky, a former PIAA champ. This is a match we'd very much like to see Mouse win - for his confidence, as well as for the dual meet score.
Prediction: Mouse by decision
Score: PSU 16, VaTech 9
Jared Haught successfully took Morg to the 3rd period, trailing by just a single point last year. And then Morg rode Haught out, and turned him for three near fall to boot. We'd really like to see Morg extend that to a major this year - but I don't think Haught will give Morg the chance.
Prediction: Morg by decision
Score: PSU 19, VaTech 9
If things go as predicted, then the team victory is secure. That's a good thing, because Ty Walz can wrestle. If Jan Johnson had a tough go against The Haven's Emerick, this is a whole other critter.
Prediction: Walz by Major
Score: PSU 19, VaTech 13