In one of the strangest dual meets in recent memory, filled with twists and turns throughout, Penn State defeated Iowa 26-11 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Friday night.
A matchup that was filled with highly-anticipated bouts up and down the lineup was thrown on its head when #1 P4P recruit of the 2016 class Mark Hall ran out of the tunnel at 174 lb with Penn State leading the dual 12-8. Thought by many to be a sure thing to redshirt this year, coach Cael Sanderson decided to pull the redshirt. Hall, the reigning junior world champion at 74kg, got an early takedown in the first period but struggled to get quality offense the rest of the match as Alex Meyer used a late third period takedown to beat Hall 7-5. The decision to take Hall’s redshirt off will be discussed ad nauseam, but it’s a decision that ultimately was made for one competition, and that competition is the NCAA championships in March, not this dual meet.
The match started at 125 with top-ranked Hawkeye Thomas Gilman squaring off against Freshman phenom (and third-ranked) Nick Suriano. Gilman used a first period takedown and excellent defensive work with his hips to score a 3-2 decision for the Hawkeyes to start the match. After returning national finalist #3 Cory Clark beat George Carpenter by technical fall 19-4, making it 8-0 Hawkeyes.
At 141 , it looked like Iowa would extend their lead after the first two periods, as #18 Topher Carton led #12 Jimmy Gulibon 3-0 entering the final stanza. Gulibon showed his promise with an incredible flurry of takedowns in the third period, and four takedowns made the final score 8-6. At 149, undefeated top-ranked Zain Retherford faced an inspired #3 Brandon Sorenson, who in his last showing looked dismal against Anthony Collica. Sorenson, who did not come anywhere near a takedown in the two meetings between the two last year (including in a major decision in the NCAA finals), recorded two takedowns in this match, but Retherford pulled it out in UTB2 after riding out Sorenson, making the team score 8-6 Iowa.
Longtime Young Guns Wrestling Club teammates Jason Nolf and Michael Kemerer squared off at 157 in a battle of number one and number two, but Nolf made it clear he is head and shoulders above everyone at the weight with a commanding 9-4 that could’ve been worse if not for some impressive defense by Kemerer throughout the match. Another Young Guns wrestler in Vincenzo Joseph (#4) took home a win for Penn State at 165, using three first period takedowns to win 7-4 over Joey Gunther, making the team score 12-8 Penn State , which would become 12-11 Penn State after the aforementioned Meyer win over Hall.
The final marquee match of the evening was supposed to be a three round prizefight between #2 Bo Nickal and number five Sammy Brooks, who was coming off a dominant performance last week against All-American Nolan Boyd. Nickal had other plans. Getting into a scramble off a Brooks leg attack in the opening exchange, Nickal caught Brooks out of position and hit a tight spladle, getting the fall in :38, producing the sweet sound of Hawkeye fans’ stunned silence throughout Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Immediately after, #10 Matt McCutchen topped Cash Wilcke in UTB 8-7, making the score 21-11 and clinching the dual for Penn State in the process.
With the devastating news that Hawkeye Heavyweight Sam Stoll will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL being announced just before match time, HWT instantly became a marquee bonus point opportunity for Nittany Lion stud Nick Nevills, ranked fifth in the nation. Nevills did not disappoint, using a steady supply of attacks in the first two period, and then a blitzkrieg of them in the final stanza to get the technical fall over Hawkeye Steven Holloway 21-6, with riding time, bringing the final score to 26-11 and improving Penn State to 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in conference play. It is also a nation-best 25th straight dual win for Penn State, and snaps Iowa’s 24-conference-dual-win streak.
Wrestler Of The Match
Bo Nickal is wrestling like he wants the NCAA final at 184, presumably against two-time defending champion Gabe Dean of Cornell, to not only decide the national champion but to decide the Hodge Trophy winner as well. Performances like tonight’s will help his cause.
Match By Match
125: #1 Thomas Gilman IOWA dec. #3 Nick Suriano PSU, 3-2 / 0-3
133: #3 Cory Clark IOWA tech fall George Carpenter PSU, 19-4 (TF; 7:00) / 0-8
141: #12 Jimmy Gulibon PSU dec. #18 Topher Carton IOWA, 8-6 / 3-8
149: #1 Zain Retherford PSU dec. (TB2) #3 Brandon Sorensen IOWA, 9-8 / 6-8
157: #1 Jason Nolf PSU dec. #2 Michael Kemerer IOWA, 9-4 / 9-8
165: #4 Vincenzo Joseph PSU dec. Joey Gunther IOWA, 7-4 / 12-8
174: #13 Alex Meyer IOWA dec. Mark Hall PSU, 7-5 / 12-11
184: #2 Bo Nickal PSU pinned #5 Sammy Brooks IOWA, WBF (0:38) / 18-11
197: #10 Matt McCutcheon PSU dec. Cash Wilcke IOWA, 8-7 (TB2; RT) / 21-11
285: #5 Nick Nevills PSU tech fall Steven Holloway IOWA, 26-11 (TF; 7:00) / 26-11
Penn State returns to action next Friday as they travel to Wisconsin.