The last dual of the 2015-2016 season is upon us as the MIchigan State squad comes to town. The Spartans wrestled Lock Haven the same night that PSU dominated Lehigh, and lost a close one 18-15--meaning the only dual meet the visiting squad won this season was against Northwestern, last weekend. Yes, Northwestern--apparently they've fallen that much this year (that's what injuries, and a young and thin depth chart with few scholarship opportunities will get you in this sport).
This is MSU head coach Tom Minkel's last dual. It likely won't be pretty for the Spartans, as Cael's squad is looking to remain unbeaten for the first time since Sanderson came to Happy Valley and the visiting team is pretty young. Penn State is currently sporting a 10 dual win streak against the green and white, and that likely will continue barring some catastrophe.
It's also senior day, with a trio of starters--Nico Megaludis, Jordan Conaway, and Morgan McIntosh--all being honored before the first matchup. All three have been significant contributors in their PSU singlets, and will be sorely missed on this blog, in the PSU wrestling community, and on the mat. Thanks to Nico, Jordan and Morgan for all you've done at Penn State, and for representing the Nittany Lions so well.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (14-0, 8-0 Big Ten) vs Michigan State (1-13, 1-7 Big Ten)
Where: Rec Hall/University Park, PA
When: Saturday, 7 pm ET
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||Michigan State|
|#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||UR - Mitch Rogalinger (So., Temperance, MI)|
|#5 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||UR - Garth Yenter (Jr., California, KY)|
|#14 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)||141||UR - Javier Gasca (So., Kingsburg, CA)|
|#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||UR - Kaelan Richards (JR., Rochester, MI)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||UR - Joe Johnson (Sr., South Lyon, MI)|
#17 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)
OR Geno Morelli (Jr., DuBois, PA)
UR - Dean Vettese (So., Troy, MI)
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||UR - Shane Shadaia (Fr., Rochester Hills, MI)|
|#6 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)||184||UR - Shawn Shadaia (Fr., Rochester Hills, MI)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||UR - Jacob Cooper (Fr., Albion, MI)|
UR - Jan Johnson (Fr., Mohnton, PA)
OR UR - Wes Phipps (So., Grove City, PA)
OR UR - Nick Nevills (Fr., Clovis, CA)
UR - Dimitrius Renfroe (Jr., Inkster, MI)
Nico's last Penn State dual. He'll go out with a bang. He was kept to a close one on Friday night by Lehigh's ranked Darian Cruz, but Rogalinger is no Cruz. Nico majored him at their last meeting, in round three of the Scuffle (14-3), and it could have been worse. It likely will be tonight.
Prediction: Nico by Tech
Score: PSU 5, MSU 0
Jordan has been having the best season of his career. The fifth year senior will go out of Rec Hall with a bang, against a clearly overmatched opponent. I'm picking a major here, but I could see it being a pin in front of a crowd that's had Conaway's back since he stepped on the mat. He'll dominate from the first whistle, with an earlier takedown than we've seen recently from him.
Prediction: Jordan by Major
Score: PSU 9, MSU 0
The last few weeks, Jimmy has been the aggressor but unable to finish his shots. His opponents have taken advantage, and gotten takedowns off of successful counters; Gulibon's paid the price, and lost. This week he'll turn it around as the level of his opponent is dropped off, but it won't surprise me if it's a little closer than comfort. Jimmy has the talent to make the podium this year, but it's late in the season to correct some of what we're seeing. He's close, but I'm not sure he's there. He seems physically strong enough to be in this weight class, but does he have the length?
Prediction: Jimmy by Decision
Score: PSU 12, MSU 0
I was wrong on Friday--he didn't get the pin. Zain's gotta feel distraught. Nolf has finally passed him on the dominance list. Poor Kaelan Richards, who only has one win on the season. Can't wait to see Rambler's tombstone on this one.
Prediction: ZPain by Pin
Score: PSU 18, MSU 0
Jason had the prettiest fall on Friday night, when he appeared to be letting Ian Brown escape before almost effortlessly bringing him to his back for the pin. Brown is a backup, in for Mitch Minotti (who was injured) but Joe Johnson has his work cut out for him. In his last home dual of his remarkable freshman campaign, Nolf once again plays with his food before he eats it--and wears Johnson down before turning him for the pin. I'm betting it's later than Zain's pin, but it'll come before the tech.
Prediction: Nolf by Pin
Score: PSU 24, MSU 0
Likely around the 35 minute mark in the dual, because in my estimation a few of the early ones won't reach the regulation time limit.
Shakur looked completely gassed halfway through the third on Friday night--and there's no way he would have won had he gone up against Preisch, instead of his backup. He likely won't be able to make weight two days in a row, and Morelli will probably get the nod tonight. He doesn't have the early explosive offense of Rasheed, but he's solid and won't give up a lot of points. That will be more than enough against Vettese, who was pinned by Bo Jordan a few weeks ago. Every time Geno's stepped on the mat attached for us in a dual he's lost a one point decision--that takes a turn this week. He'll win, and by more than a point.
Prediction: Morelli by Decision
Score: PSU 27, MSU 0
The lighter of the two Shadaia twins has a worse record than his brother, by virtue of the gauntlet that is the 174 weight class. And his last dual meet opponent is likely the toughest of them all; he won't get a reprieve. Bo will cap off his really impressive season with a signature win headed into the National Duals, and hopefully a rematch against Indiana's Nate Jackson at Big Tens. Bo will win big.
Prediction: Bo by Pin
Score: PSU 33, MSU 0
Mouse ran up against a gauntlet Friday night. It was the first time all season he was truly dominated; Nate Brown, much like Gabe Dean, is a cut above almost everyone else at this weight. That's not a bad ceiling to have, as McCutcheon will still have a very, very strong chance to make the podium in March--but unless he gets a lot of breaks, it likely won't be at the top. The other Shadaia brother, his opponent today, is not Nate Brown, and Mouse should be able to rebound nicely with a very decisive victory, where he's in control from start to finish.
Prediction: Mouse by Major
Score: PSU 37, MSU 0
Morgan has flown under the radar for much of the year, by virtue of being surrounded by some of the best young wrestlers we've seen on the Penn State roster since David Taylor and Ed Ruth burst on the scene. He's the only undefeated senior on the roster, and that's going to continue tonight. He'll go out with a bang, proving that the heavier weights don't mean you don't have to score--more bow and arrow, like he did immediately Friday? Yes, please.
Prediction: Morgan by Tech
Score: PSU 42, MSU 0
Nevills got the go on Friday, and that means we're likely to see him every chance he gets from here on out. If it wasn't for an illegal hold, he likely would have held on to a win over a top-15 opponent; for his first match back (in February, no less) after an injury, that's not bad. At all. Renfroe is not of the same caliber, and my guess is Nevills shows right away the reason why he was so highly regarded--and why we've all missed him so much this year.
Prediction: Nevills by Decision
Score: PSU 45, MSU 0