The Penn State Nittany Lions wrestling teams returns to competition on Sunday in the Keystone Classic at the Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
This is the first time that Penn State will attend the annual tournament hosted by Penn. They will join 11 other teams in the competition and will take 19 wrestlers, 10 of which will be qualified as point scorers. Redshirting wrestlers may not compete in the tournament. The Nittany Lions are the highest ranked team in the tournament. Joining Penn State at the classic will be:
Franklin & Marshall
Penn State will send two wrestlers at the 125-pound weight class. Nick Suriano (10th) will be the point-scorer for the Nittany Lions and will be joined by Patrick Higgins. In our weight-by-weight breakdowns we will discuss the likely point scorer (highest finisher for PSU), their predicted finish, and the predicted winner of the weight. Suriano should be favorite at 125 pounds. He’s the highest-ranked wrestler in the tournament and only Pitt and Drexel send returning NCAA qualifiers.
Suriano predicted finish: 1st
Penn State will send Jered Cortez (8th) and George Carpenter at 133 pounds. Cortez will be the likely point-scorer. While Cortez may well be the favorite, he’s joined by Pitt’s Dom Forys (9th), Drexel’s Kevin Devoy (UR) and Penn’s Caleb Richardson (UR). Forys was last year’s ACC runner-up. Devoy is back down from 141 for his final year and made the bloodround last year at the NCAA tournament, Richardson is a three-time NCAA qualifier.
Cortez predicted finish: 1st
Jimmy Gulibon (11th), Kade Moss and Dom Giannageli will represent Penn State. Gulibon is the likely scorer for Penn State but don’t count out Moss, who has been known to rack up bonus points at tournaments (See: 2016 Southern Scuffle). Gulibon is the lone returning NCAA qualifier at the weight and should the favorite.
Gulibon predicted finish: 1st
Moss predicted finish: 2nd
Zain Retherford (1st) is still breathing as far as we know, so he goes in as the massive favorite. He’s joined by Penn State’s Gary Dinmore at the weight. Matthew Cimato (10) represents Drexel. Cimato is a returning NCAA qualifier and downed former NCAA champion Jason Tsirtsis last year in a tight match, Pitt’s Mikey Racciato and EMU’s Nick Barber are also returning NCAA qualifiers. Racciato won the tournament last year at 141.
Zain predicted finish: Lol 1st
All those things we said about Zain go Jason Nolf (1st) as well. He’ll be the lone 157-pound wrestler for PSU. Joining him at the weight will be Rider’s Bryant (don’t call me BJ) Clagon (14), who is up from 149 and a 2015 All-American. Penn’s May Bethea is also an NCAA qualifier. Nolf dispatched of him easily last year with a tech fall at the NCAA tournament. Not wrestling due to injury is former Penn State wrestler Garett Hammond (15), who currently wrestles for Drexel. Get well soon, Garett!
Nolf predicted finish: 1st
Yo, watch Jason Nolf just suck the life out of Stanford’s Paul Fox last Sunday. It’s hilarious and kinda sad too. (Video via YouTube.com)
Cenzo Joseph and Caleb Livingston get the nod for PSU at 165. Cenzo is fresh off a loss to Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck (19) last Sunday and now out of the rankings (Yo CP really?). Rider’s Chad Walsh (5) was an NCAA All-American last season at 157. Pitt’s Te’Shan Campbell (15) is somehow down to 165, he’s a big boy. And App State’s Forrest Przybysz (17, only had to check that spelling twice!) could make some noise.
Cenzo predicted finish: 1st
I think Cenzo comes out angry and earns two big wins. The first a major over our boy Przybysz or Te’Shan Campbell in a semifinal and the second a tight decision over Walsh in the final. If he loses to Walsh in the final and it’s close, then so be it and he’ll be okay.
Things get a bit fun at 174. Penn State will send Geno Morelli (12), fresh off a victory over Stanford’s Jim Wilson (13), a former All-American. They will also send Shakur Rasheed. By now you’ve probably heard, but Rasheed and Morelli are yet again battling for a starting spot this year after doing so last year down at 165. Geno won the wrestle-off but performances at the classic and the Reno Tournament of Champions later in the year could well decide who gets the nod long term.
They’ll be joined by Harvard’s Josef Johnson, who battled Penn State’s redshirting freshman phenom Mark Hall in the finals of last week’s Bingham Bearcat open, falling 12-4 (atta boy Mark). Also in the bracket is Northwestern’s Johny Sebastian (20). Sebastian sat out last season with an injury but was 23-3 in his redshirt year for the Wildcats.
Morelli predicted finish: 3rd
Rasheed predicted finish: 2nd
Predicted winner: Johny Sebastian (jNW)
Penn State will send Bo Nickal (3rd) and Devon Van Cura. There are no returning NCAA qualifiers in the field other than Bo. Bo should manhandle anybody he comes up against. I wish I could give you more here, but it’s pretty cut and dry.
Nickal predicted finish: 1st
Matt McCutcheon (9th) and Kellan Stout head to Philly for Cael Sanderson’s team. There’s a lot of intrigue in this weight. This will be McCutcheon’s first tournament up a weight and he’ll most likely be the smaller wrestler in every match he wrestles. For Stout, it’s a chance to show he wasn’t just a handed a starting spot before McCutcheon came up. Joining them will be Rider’s Ryan Wolfe (8th), who is a two-time NCAA qualifier, and Penn’s Frank Mattiace (14th)
McCutcheon predicted finish: 2nd
Stout predicted finish: 5th
Shaved bears time! It’s probably not even fair to say that any more given how athletic heavyweights are these days. No less true for Penn State’s Nick Nevills (10th), who’s now down to a tidy 251 pounds (prior to Stanford dual). Nevills, returning from injury, downed Stanford’s Nathan Butler (11th) last week in his first true test this year. He’ll have to do it against to win what should be the tournament’s deepest weight.
The weight it headlined by App State’s Denzel Dejournette (6th), who is a returning NCAA qualifier but also has a 7-6 loss at the hands of Nevills on his resume at the 2015 Southern Scuffle. Pitt’s Ryan Solomon (15th), EMU’s Gage Hutchinson, Drexel’s Joey Goodhart and Rider’s Mauro Correnti are also former NCAA qualifiers. Nevills has a victory via first-period fall over Correnti in the 2014 Nittany Lion Open.
Nevills predicted finish: 1st
While DeJournette has an outstanding dual resume, his tournament results have been lacking. As the sixth seed at NCAAs last year he went two and a barbecue (not including a MFF “win” over Iowa’s Sam Stoll (7th)) and got stuck by Oklahoma’s Ross Larson (12th) on the back side.
Penn State should run away with this. They’re the only team ranked in the tournament rankings and could very possibly win all ten weights. I’m not overthinking this one, they’ll win in a landslide.
***All rankings via FloWrestling***