The inaugural Penn State-Pac 12 challenge continues as the Nittany Lions tour the Golden State, visiting the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal had one wrestler make the podium last season, getting eight team points at the NCAA tournament. This year looks to be a bounceback year, though; they haven't placed in the top 20 in the NCAAs since 2012, which had followed their highest finish in program history (11th, in 2011).
Which wrestlers will leave the program on the spot to become a member of the Stanford Cardinal? Your guess is as good as mine.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at #18 Stanford (2-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
Where: Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto, CA
When: Sunday, 11/22, 4 pm ET (1 pm local time)
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: Free, via the Pac-12 Network Bay Area.
|No.1 Penn State||WT||No.6 Virginia Tech|
|#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||#18 - Connor Schram (So., Canonsburg, PA)|
|#8 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||UR - Mason Pengilly (So., Porterville, CA)|
|#5 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)||141||#4 - Joey McKenna (Fr., Towaco, NJ)|
|#2 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||UR - Tommy Pawelski (So., Park Ridge, IL)|
|#2 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||UR - Maxwell Hvolbek (Jr., West Hills, CA)|
|UR - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)||165||#6 - Jim Wilson (Jr., Lodi, CA)|
|#8 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||UR - Keaton Subjeck (So., El Dorado Hills, CA)|
|#14 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)||184||UR - Ryan Davies (Jr., Clovis, CA)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||UR - Michael Sojka (Sr., Winnebago, IL)|
|UR - Jan Johnson (TrFr., Mohnton, PA)||285||#17 - Nathan Butler (So., Leavenworth, KS)|
Connor Schram's cut some weight, having qualified for the NCAAs at 133 last season, where he lost to Minnesota's Dardanes and Ok State's Harding in the first round and the wrestlebacks in his two matches. Nico's still on a mission, and though Schram tech falled Nico's Friday night opponent earlier this season, I don't see this one being as close as the score might have indicated.
Prediction: Nico by Major
Score: PSU 4, Stanford 0
Jordan didn't disappoint me on Friday, coming out and securing the major by dominating from the beginning. His opponent is a sophomore who's wrestled a lot this year, and fluctuated between weights last year--anywhere between 125 and 141. I don't see him taking Jordan down, though he obviously belongs at 133. Opposite of Nico's match--I think it feels closer than the final score indicates.
Prediction: Conaway by Major
Score: PSU 8, Stanford 0
141 LBS - Match of the Meet
Jimmy recovered from his disappointing loss at Tech by barely missing a major decision at CSU-Bakersfield Friday. This match won't be as easy, if that could be classified as such. Joey McKenna is a super talented redshirt freshman with a ton of high school hardware--a top ten recruit according to Intermat and the number one wrestler in his class (2014--same as Nolf, Nevils and Nickal) from the state of New Jersey. This will be a real battle for Jimmy, the first (second?) of many on the year. It could really go either way, but I'm still in on Gulibon, so I'm picking him.
Prediction: Gulibon by decision
Score: PSU 11, Stanford 0
At this point, does it really matter who Zain wrestles? My prediction? What else:
Prediction: Zain by pinfall. Because why not.
Score: PSU 17, Stanford 0
This Jason Nolf kid is pretty alright. And by that, I mean damn impressive. His opponent is an experienced junior, but just won't be able to keep up with Nolf's firepower--his best finish was last year's Southern Scuffle, where he finished 8 but didn't face Nolf, who came in 2nd. I think Jason plays catch and release for 7 minutes again.
Prediction: Nolf by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 22, Stanford 0
There hasn't been one in weeks, so I don't know why I bother.
Rasheed showed on Friday night why he's the coaches' pick at this weight. He'll need all the luck and skill he can get today as he faces off against returning All-American Jim Wilson, who as a junior is already sixth on Stanford's all-time win list.
Prediction: Wilson by Dec
Score: PSU 22, Stanford 3
Bo Nickal improved his standing after taking down then-#3 Epperly last Sunday--but not by much. He followed that up Friday night by pinning another ranked opponent, CSU-Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond (the Roadrunners' only ranked wrestler). If the gods are just, he improves in the rankings--especially if, as I expect, he utterly dominates his Stanford opponent on Sunday.
Prediction: Bo by Major
Score: PSU 26, Stanford 3
Mouse just looks like a different critter this year, dominating every opponent with ease from the start. His foe in Palo Alto has been the victim of bonus points by lesser foes this year, and he hasn't even seen McCutcheon yet. Mouse was close to the tech in Blacksburg, and I predicted it Friday, but I really see him getting extra bonus points Sunday.
Prediction: Mouse by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 31, Stanford 3
So far, Morgan's dealt with the pressure of being a senior leader on this Penn State squad (and the only #1 ranked wrestler--for now) well. His opponent at Stanford has wrestled 12 matches on the young season and is 7-5 so far, including losing to the heavyweight that beat Jan Johnson on Friday. Morgan should win walking away.
Prediction: Morgan by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 36, Stanford 3
Johnson's conditioning looked to have improved leaps and bounds in Bakersfield, but it wasn't enough to overcome stalling calls and the transcontinental travel. He's still a work in progress, but he's getting there. That won't be enough this week, as he takes on a redshirt sophomore NCAA qualifier whose only loss on the year is to another ranked heavy. This bout won't be high-scoring (what heavyweight match is?) but it likely won't feel as close as the final score indicates.
Prediction: Butler by Dec
Score: PSU 36, Stanford 6