We would be remiss if we didn’t start this post discussing the passing of former Penn State wrestler James Vollrath. Vollrath passed away last night after a long fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma. A member of the Penn State wrestling team from 2009 to 2014 and a member of the community throughout, Vollrath will be remembered fondly by friends, family and fans alike. We send our condolences to the Vollrath family and any friends of James at this time.
As we write this, the Penn State Wrestling team sits at Baltimore/Washington International Airport in hopes of leaving for Reno. Weather, however, may dictate otherwise.
What was once thought of as one of the 2016-2017 season’s premier tournaments has lost some of its luster as top-ranked Oklahoma State along with powerhouse Missouri have decided not to send their top wrestlers out to Reno. While that is certainly disappointing for the Nittany Lions, there will still be some good wrestlers in Reno, and with it being their last competition before the Big Ten dual season gets underway, it will be a great barometer of where Penn State is at.
The tournament has a maximum of fifteen wrestlers per team, though as of Friday evening Penn State has not made public an official list of fifteen, and there is a chance they will send less than that number. Joining Penn State in Reno will be:
Cal. State Bakersfield
Cal. State Pueblo
Gateway Bible College
How to Watch/Listen: Flowrestling has the tournament streaming live for paid members starting at Noon ET, and GoPSUSports will have the audio coverage with Jeff Byers on the call starting around 11:40 AM ET.
Weight By Weight
(all rankings according to Flo Wrestling)
Undefeated True Freshman Nick Suriano, ranked #4, figures to be the lone Nittany Lion entry at 125. Fans had anticipated a matchup with Oklahoma State’s own freshman stud Nick Piccininni, but with Oklahoma State not sending their studs, that won’t happen. Suriano has yet to be taken down this year, and has a good chance to continue that streak this weekend. His toughest challenge could from No. 11 Nathan Kraisser of Campbell, but it’s hard to foresee a scenario in which Suriano loses to Kraisser.
Suriano Projected Finish: 1st Place
After sitting out of the dual against Binghamton, there was some optimism that normal starter Jered Cortez would be back for the Reno TOC. That does not appear to be the case, however. In his place will be Sophomore George Carpenter, who had quite a Penn State dual meet debut on Sunday as he scored 17 unanswered points against Ian Lupole en route to a 17-2 technical fall victory. Earlier this season we saw Nick Suriano defeat Stanford’s top-five ranked Connor Schram at 125 pounds, and since then Schram has moved up to 133 pounds, where he is ranked No. 12. Joining him as a ranked wrestler will be No. 16 Drew Templeman of Wyoming. Carpenter looked great last week at Rec Hall, and he’s wrestling great competition in the room every day, but one would have to think that he’s the underdog against at least the two aforementioned wrestlers. I’ll give Carpenter the benefit of the doubt in the losers’ bracket, though.
Carpenter Projected Finish: 3rd Place
141 is the first weight that the Lions are expected to send two wrestlers to Reno, as Jimmy Gulibon and Kade Moss will most likely both be taking the mat on Sunday as they battle for the spot in the lineup. How much of a battle Cael Sanderson considers there to be at this weight is anyone’s guess, but it certainly would be hard to ignore a repeat performance of the Keystone Classic where Jimmy Gulibon finished off the podium while Moss made a run to the finals. Four ranked wrestlers will be in Reno, highlighted by No. 2 Joey McKenna of Stanford and last year’s NCAA runner-up from Wyoming, No. 11 Bryce Meredith. On his day he can beat anyone at the weight, but Gulibon’s inconsistency is known throughout the college wrestling world, and predicting how he will look is similar to playing some Reno slot machines. Moss is the more consistent wrestler but with less upside, and his ceiling this weekend is certainly third.
Gulibon Projected Finish: 4th
Moss Projected Finish: 5th
Another weight where there is a good chance to see two Nittany Lion wrestlers is at 149, where alongside 2016 Reno Tournament of Champions Champion Zain Retherford you’ll see Gary Dinmore as well. Ranked wrestlers in the field include No. 12 Cole Mendenhall of Wyoming and No. 20 Joey Delgado of Oregon State, but everyone knows that this is a tournament for second place behind Zain Retherford. There’s some more intrigue around Dinmore, as he showed he could beat quality opponents when he downed current No. 15 Matt Cimato of Drexel at the Keystone Classic. This will be a good opportunity for Dinmore to show his ability against a decent field for really the first time in his career.
Retherford Projected Finish: 1st (Can he and Nolf wrestle an exhibition at the conclusion of the tournament?)
Dinmore Projected Finish: 5th Place
Jason Nolf figures to be the lone entrant for Penn State at 157, but something tells me that will be enough firepower. Like Retherford, Nolf is significantly better than the rest of the field not only here in Reno but most likely anywhere in the nation. With the only other ranked wrestler in the field being No. 17 Archie Colgan of Wyoming, it’s more likely than not that no one holds Nolf to less than a technical fall all day Sunday. There’s nothing else really to say here other than whenever Jason Nolf takes the mat, don’t blink because you might miss something you’ve never seen before.
Nolf Projected Finish: 1st
Cenzo Joseph will rep PSU at 165 in Reno. Joseph will likely be the top-seeded wrestler in the tournament and will have an opportunity to avenge his lone loss of the season to Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck. Joseph is now ranked 10th by FloWrestling and Subjeck is No. 13. Joining them in the field is impressive Wyoming sophomore Branson Ashworth, who Flo ranks No. 16.
Joseph Projected Finish: 1st
With Shakur Rasheed missing due to a slight injury, Geno Morelli will be the man to lead the Nittany Lions into battle in Reno. Morelli’s lone loss this season is to his teammate and he already holds a victory over Stanford’s Jim Wilson, who is the only other ranked wrestler in the field for Reno.
Morelli Projected Finish: 1st
Bo Nickal is again the man with the plan at 184 for Penn State. Nickal has steamrolled everyone in his path this season, winning all but one match by Fall. Nickal’s last match was Sunday against Binghamton 18th-ranked Steven Schneider, in which Nickal controlled the pace en route to an 18-7 Major Decision. Nickal shouldn’t be challenged much as he’s the only ranked wrestler scheduled to compete in Reno.
Nickal Projected Finish: 1st
Matt McCutcheon will be joined by Kellan Stout in the Reno TOC. Mouse has been nothing short of impressive since making the jump up to 197 and is now ranked No. 6 in the country by Flo. CSU Bakersfield’s Matt Williams (No. 16) joins ‘Cutch and Stout in the field as well as Stanford’s Josh Marchok (UR) who McCutcheon has already dispatched of in a tight contest earlier this season. Both matches will serve as a strong measuring stick for McCutcheon’s development as as Stout’s growth.
McCutcheon Projected Finish: 1st
Stout Projected Finish: 5th
One Mr. Nicholas Nevills is the heavyweight representative for Penn State yet again. Nevills, like McCutcheon has moved all the way up to No. 6 in Flo’s rankings. His stiffest competition will come in the form of Stanford’s Nathan Butler (No. 8), who Nevills was able to defeat 3-1 in the dual earlier in the season. Nevills should waltz into the final against Butler assuming the two are top-seeded wrestlers at the weight.
Nevills Projected Finish: 1st
Without the Cowpokes or Mizzou in attendance, Reno looks more like the slightly deeper Keystone Classic than anything. Penn State should walk away with the team title and could well crown champions at eight of the 10 weights.