For the second straight year, the Penn State wrestling team attended its first tournament of the season in Philadelphia for the Keystone Classic.
Also for the second straight year, Penn State dominated the tournament en route to winning the team title and crowning seven individual champs.
We were also to get a partial answer to one of the major questions we had heading into the tournament.
Vincenzo Joseph sat out the tournament with a minor injury.
Corey Keener made his way to the semifinals before injury defaulting out with what appears to be a minor injury.
Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Mark Hall and Bo Nickal were each heavy favorites and walked to individual championships.
At 141, Jered Cortez went 4-0 and claimed a championship, but was largely unimpressive with a pair of close wins over unranked wrestlers in the semifinals and finals. With Nick Lee lurking, Cortez is going to have to show he can score team points in March in order to keep his spot.
At 197, Anthony Cassar claimed a third close win over Matt McCutcheon in the semifinals as the two battle for that spot. Cassar used the late takedown to claim the 6-5 win. McCutcheon then injury defaulted out of the third-place bout.
In the finals, Cassar faced No. 12 Frank Mattiace of Penn. While Cassar had defeated McCutcheon, he had yet to defeat a ranked wrestler outside of the room in his career. He used a pair of third-period double legs to earn a 7-4 win over Mattiace to take home the crown and tighten his grip on the starting spot at 197.
Nick Nevills and Jacob Kasper of Duke closed out the tournament in the finals at 285. It was the only match up of the tournament between two top-five wrestlers and the pair were 1-1 against each other at last year’s NCAA tournament in St. Louis.
Nevills used a strong third-period ride and a set of two back points to claim a 3-1 victory, cementing his No. 3 ranking and giving him his second (first official) win over a top-five opponent this season after knocking off Arizona State’s Tanner Hall at the NWCA All-Star Classic.