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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs Bucknell

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The Lions are home again, and looking to make it two for two in the opening weekend.

FloSports: FloWrestling Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Bison are 0-2 with a dual against number 10 Lehigh Friday night before headed into Happy Valley on Sunday; the Lions, in contrast, thoroughly dominated the Army Black Knights in their opening season dual, where they look to start a threepeat NCAA title season.

The two teams haven’t met on the mat since the World War II era, and this looks to be a closer dual than Thursday’s, with the Bison sending two ranked wrestlers into Rec Hall. Bucknell (who wrestled Lehigh after the writing of this preview) went 0-fer in their first weekend of wrestling last week, losing to former PSU dual meet victims CSU Bakersfield and Edinboro, the latter of which is ranked in the top twenty five. Three Bison grapplers won their matches at each dual, with team leader Tyler Smith leading the way with bonus points in both.

Before headed on the road for the first time this year, the Lions look to build on a strong showing on Thursday that saw five (5!) PSUers pin their opponents, with returning NCAA champs Zain Retherford and Cenzo Joseph “settling” for bonus point victories. This dual meet on paper looks to be a bit closer, though the outcome shouldn’t really be in doubt - and the Lions’ 32 dual winning streak should continue.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs. Bucknell

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, 11/12, 2 pm ET

Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: Lionvision

Lineup

No. 1 Penn State WT Bucknell
No. 1 Penn State WT Bucknell
Devin Schnupp (Fr., Lititz, PA) OR Justin Lopez (Fr., Yonkers, NY) OR Kenny Yanovich (Jr., Effort, PA) 125 Jakob Campbell (Fr., Gilbertsville, PA)
#15 Corey Keener (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA) 133 Joe Gould (So., Easton, PA) OR David Campbell (Fr., Gilbertsville, PA)
Jered Cortez (Jr., Carol Stream, IL) 141 #10 - Tyler Smith (Sr., Export, PA)
#1 - Zain Retherford (Sr., Benton, PA) 149 Seth Hogue (So., Masbury, OH)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Jr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 Zach Kelly (Jr., Lower Burrell, PA) OR Mitch Hartman (So., Belle Vernon, PA)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (So., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Joey Schiele (Fr., Wharton, NJ)
#2 - Mark Hall (So., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Nick Stephani (Jr., Columbia Cross Roads, PA)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Jr., Allen, TX) 184 Drew Phipps (So, Irwin, PA)
#4 - Matt McCutcheon (Jr., Apollo, PA) OR Anthony Cassar (So., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Shakur Rasheed (Jr., Coram, NY) 197 #14 - Tom Sleigh (Sr., DuBois, PA)
#3 - Nick Nevills (Jr., Clovis, CA) 285 Eric Chakonis (Fr., Washington Township, NJ)

125 LBS

Schnupp got the nod on Thursday, looking tough and feisty albeit small in his hard-fought loss to Army’s Trey Chalifoux. He’s likely to sit on Sunday, with Cael taking a shot on another wrestler this early season to face one of a set of twins on the Bucknell roster in Jakob Campbell; this time, by a hopefully better result. If it is Schnupp, I expect him to rebound well and win handily; if Yanovich or Lopez get the go, it should be closer.

Prediction: Yanovich/Schnupp by Decision

Score: PSU 3, Bucknell 0

133 LBS

Helllloooo, Corey Keener! The former CMU grad transfer had a beautiful debut in the blue and white Thursday, introducing himself to the PSU faithful via a first period pin. He’s said that the change has been great for him physically, and it showed on Thursday; he started out tentative but finished his first period incredibly strong, biding his time before making his move. He started the scoring and it didn’t stop there; he showed patience and intelligence, and as a ranked wrestler this early, he could be a good surprise for the Lions in the lower weights.

Prediction: Keener by Major

Score: PSU 7, Bucknell 0

141 LBS - Match of the Meet

Jered Cortez looked like he was still shaking off the rust on Thursday, though the transition to a higher weight didn’t seem to be a problem at all. His Army opponent was no slouch - but on Sunday, he’s up against Bucknell’s best wrestler, a senior three-time NCAA qualifier who narrowly missed out on AA status last year. Tyler Smith is good and a quality early test for Cortez; this match should go a long way to determine whether Jered’s the answer this year at 141, or it burning Nick Lee’s redshirt will be a strong possibility.

Prediction: Smith by Decision

Score: PSU 7, Bucknell 3

149 LBS

How irritated did Zain look that he was unable to get the pin on Thursday, and instead had to settle for a fall that was merely technical? He’ll take those frustrations out on his Sunday opponent. The poor guy.

Prediction: Zain by Pin

Score: PSU 13, Bucknell 3

157 LBS

Nolf is funky, funky, funky, and we love, love, love it. His pin on Thursday was artistry and beauty, and he showed rare glimpses of emotion after the victory. If someone can challenge Zain for the Hodge this year, Nolf is one of the few.

Bets on over or under 2 minutes?

Prediction: Nolf by Pin

Score: PSU 19, Bucknell 3

165 LBS

Cenzo Joseph shook off some rust at the beginning of Thursday’s dual, settling for a major decision after giving up the initial takedown. His opponent on Sunday isn’t as seasoned as Army’s Mendel was; the freshman Schiele was tech falled at Edinboro without scoring a point. Cenzo should be able to do the same, as the quietest member of Penn State’s murderer’s row last year (that is, until the Pin Heard Round the World).

Prediction: Cenzo by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 24, Bucknell 3

174 LBS

Mark Hall used a beautiful cement mixer on Thursday to pin a ranked wrestler, showing that he’s upped his game significantly in the past season, despite his unattached loss to now-#1 Zahid Valencia. His celebration post-pin was very Saquon Barkley-esque, and we should expect more of those from him as the season goes on. He’s up against another quality wrestler; Stephani gives up points, but also knows how to score them. But Hall is just on another level, and though he still appears to be giving up a few pounds at this weight, his technique and savviness more than make up for it.

Prediction: Hall by Pin

Score: PSU 30, Bucknell 3

184 LBS

Bucknell’s Phipps (who appears to have little relation to former PSU, now Mercyhurst wrestler Wes Phipps) is their sole wrestler at press time to have scored a pin on the year. Unluckily for him, he’s up against Bo Nickal, who won BSD’s official pin pool last week. Bo’s too smooth and has got too much in his arsenal, whether dodging wrenches or taking dudes to their backs.

Prediction: Bo by Pin

Score: PSU 36, Bucknell 3

197 LBS

Despite Matt McCutcheon being the face of the season-opener season ticket, he didn’t wrestle on Thursday as teammate Anthony Cassar narrowly missed bonus in his match against Army. Mouse should get the nod this week, as Cael may look to get both wrestlers enough time to qualify for post-season; where that leaves Shakur Rasheed is anyone’s guess. Bucknell’s Tom Sleigh is a very solid wrestler, a three-time NCAA qualifier and EIWA runner up last season. This should be lower scoring than Friday’s, but I see McCutcheon pulling it out.

Prediction: Mouse by Decision

Score: PSU 39, Bucknell 3

285 LBS

Nevills looks bigger, stronger, and with more moves in his arsenal this year - and whether that’s enough to break into the top two has yet to be determined. He’s on his way, though, and looked smooth on Thursday night; for his second match of the year, he’s up against a freshman who was pinned at Edinboro. That...doesn’t bode well for Chakonis.

Prediction: Nevills by Pin

Score: PSU 45, Bucknell 3