The first ever Dual Meet Championship series sees the Oklahoma State Cowboys come to Rec Hall on Sunday to take on the undefeated Nittany Lions. The good guys are heavily favored in this matchup, especially since it looks like neither #8 174er Kyle Crutchmer nor #8 157er Joe Smith will be on the mat for the Pokes (Crutchmer wasn't even listed in the lineup, and Smith has gone from probable to questionable to unlikely as the week has gone on).
Not that redshirt freshmen phenoms Bo Nickal and Jason Nolf wouldn't have been heavily favored in those weights anyway, but it makes the road to the first ever undefeated dual season under Cael Sanderson that much easier.
Sunday will be the 21st time the two programs will have met, and though OK State hold a significant historical lead over PSU (13-6-1), and won the last time the two programs met (last February, in Stillwater, before the Lions narrowly edged them out at the NCAAs in a rare relative down year that saw neither program challenge for the National Title), Penn State won the last time the two teams faced off in Happy Valley pretty handily--23-12, with a pin from Ed Ruth and a rare non-bonus point win from David Taylor.
OSU had a late home dual meet on Friday night, defeating UNC pretty handily (33-6)--but it did feature a pretty shocking upset with #1 Dean Heil losing for the first time all season.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (15-0, 9-0 Big Ten) vs #2/5 Oklahoma State (13-2, 6-0 Big Twelve)
Where: Rec Hall/University Park, PA
When: Sunday, 5 pm ET
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: Live on the Big Ten Network
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||No. 2 Oklahoma State|
|#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||#6 - Eddie Klimara (Sr., Joliet, IL)|
|#5 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||UR - Gary Wayne Harding (So., Collinsville, OK)|
|UR - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)||141||#1 - Dean Heil (So., Brunswick, OH)|
|#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||#12 - Anthony Collica (Jr., Solon, OH)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||
#8 - Joe Smith (Fr., Stillwater, OK)
OR UR - Ryan Blees (Fr., Bismarck, ND)
#17 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)
OR Geno Morelli (Jr., DuBois, PA)
#1 - Alex Dieringer (Sr., Port Washington, WI)
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||UR - Chandler Rogers (Fr., Stillwater, OK)|
|#6 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)||184||#13 - Nolan Boyd (Jr., Edmond, OK)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||
UR - Preston Weigel (Fr., Russel, KS)
OR UR - Andrew Marsden (Fr., Crystal Lake, IL)
#16 - Nick Nevills (Fr., Clovis, CA)
OR UR - Jan Johnson (Fr., Mohnton, PA)
#5 - Austin Marsden (Sr., Crystal Lake, IL)
125 LBS - Match of the Meet #1
Nico's got two close losses on his record on the season, a sudden victory loss to #3 Joey Dance from Virginia Tech and a last second loss to #1 Nathan Tomasello from Ohio State off of a counter takedown. He's close to the top, and he needs a win over a quality opponent like Klimara to give him that confidence to get there. Luckily, he's had Klimara's number in the past--including a pretty stout 8-1 decision in the Scuffle this year. This could be closer given the stakes, but I see Nico starting off the Lions right today.
Prediction: Nico by Decision
Score: PSU 3, OSU 0
Conaway has been the biggest surprise this year. We knew the freshmen would be great, based on all the reports out of the weight room (maybe not this great)--but did we know Jordan would be challenging the top, and sitting at 21-3 this late in the season? He's been impressive in his senior campaign, and it will be incredibly difficult to keep him off the podium. John Smith had pulled true freshman Kaid Brock's redshirt at this weight early in the season, but the talented kid got hurt at the Scuffle during his bout with Nahshon Garrett, and it was a season-ender. Harding has stepped in in his place, and while he did qualify for the NCAAs last year (meaning, he's not a bad wrestler), he's no Brock, and he's definitely not on Conaway's level--after all, Jimmy Gulibon pinned him at this weight last year. Harding will do his best to not have the same thing happen this year.
Prediction: Jordan by Major
Score: PSU 7, 0SU 0
After a two-loss weekend last week, Jimmy's fallen out of the rankings. Dean Heil was undefeated on the year before losing to UNC's #8 Ward in sudden victory, after a stellar All-American freshman season that saw him going into the tourney seeded 14th and finishing fourth. Jimmy hasn't been the same since his injury, showing flashes of greatness but an inability to finish his shots, allowing his opponents to counter and control on top. I expect Heil to be pissed at his loss, and to come out on top.
Prediction: Heil by Decision
Score: PSU 7, OSU 3
I don't expect a pin here, because I think Collica stalls his way to not as many bonus points. Collica has a ton of pins himself on the year (including one on Friday night), but this is Zain we're talking about, and even as a true freshman he was able to defeat then-ranked Collica, riding him out. I think Zain gets his pain, though--and the major. Because he's the real deal.
Prediction: ZPain by Major
Score: PSU 11, OSU 3
If Smith was the one wrestling, I wouldn't expect as many bonus points here; after all, he was able to keep it to a regular decision against Nolf at the Scuffle. But Blees isn't as talented as Smith, and Nolf is on a roll--getting ready for IMar part 2.
Prediction: Nolf by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 16, OSU 3
Grab some dinner, and a beer. This is the #2 team we're dominating, after all.
This is likely the easiest win that Oklahoma State will get all day. Alex Dieringer has been consistently great for the Cowboys, and is a two-time defending NCAA champion. Last year, Dieringer beat Hammond by major decision; the year before, at 157 (to avoid Taylor, perhaps?) he beat Dylan Alton. He's undefeated on the year, and it hasn't really been close; we'll be lucky if Geno Morelli can keep it to only one bonus point here, as Dieringer is #3 on the NCAA's most dominant wrestlers list, behind Retherford and Nolf. This one has the potential to get ugly, but another reason why it should be Morelli--he can keep it respectable.
Prediction: Dieringer by Major
Score: PSU 16, OSU 7
Originally I picked Bo by a tech here, but then I saw the results from Friday night...where Rogers, who was brought out in place of the injured Kyle Crutchmer, proceeded to upset #2 Ethan Ramos, who had had only two losses on the year to date (one of which was to Nickal in the finals of the Scuffle). Now, I'm a little less confident in the plethora of bonus points. I'm still sure of Bo's win; he's run the gauntlet that is his schedule, and the talent of the 174 weight class this season, but though I'm picking the major, that's now more of a wish than a confidence pick. It could be closer than I'm expecting, simply because Rogers is such an unknown.
I say that, and watch Bo pin him.
Prediction: Bo by Major
Score: PSU 20, OSU 7
184 LBS - Match of the Meet #2
Last year, Matt got absolutely dominated by Boyd. This year, he's been a different wrestler; aside from when he's faced the top few guys or when he's been forced to injury default, he's taken care of business. Boyd was able to upset Gabe Dean earlier this season; but the rest of his resume doesn't really scare me. I expect it to be very close, but provided Mouse doesn't let himself get ridden out--or stalled out--I expect him to get the best of the Poke here.
Prediction: Mouse by Decision
Score: PSU 23, OSU 7
I'm not sure which of the Cowboys goes here. I'm not sure it matters. Morgan has been quietly taking care of business all season, the surest of the sure if not very flashy and almost consistently overshadowed by his younger teammates. He can cap off this dual meet by continuing his undefeated streak. Bow and arrow? Bow and arrow.
Prediction: Morgan by Major
Score: PSU 27, OSU 7
Intermat says that the easy upset pick is Boyd over Mouse. I disagree. I think it's Nick over Austin Marsden. You'll underestimate Nevills at your own peril, and he was very close to upsetting the #14 wrestler in his first NCAA attached bout--after not wrestling for months. I don't think it's a stretch to see him win on Sunday, and catapult him into the conv
Prediction: Nevills by Decision
Score: PSU 30, OSU 7