Heading into the conference season, the Penn State wrestling team had won all of its duals comfortably but didn’t look like a team that was ready to contend for a national championship.
That changed Sunday.
With Ohio State dominating teams despite not having some of their top guys due to injuries and other commitments, the Buckeyes had taken a strong grasp on the moniker of No. 1 team in the land.
Penn State did its best to try to get that back against Indiana.
It wasn’t the scoreline that most impressed on Sunday, but the way Penn State was able to get there.
After Devin Schnupp dropped a 7-2 decision to Elijah Oliver at 125, Corey Keener stepped to the mat for the Nittany Lions for the first time in nearly a month due to injury.
Keener looked as good as he has all season. The graduate senior used a plethora of leg attacks and a strong top game to dominate a very game Garrett Pepple and claim an 11-3 Major Decision.
At 141, Jered Cortez picked up his best win of the season, besting 12th-ranked Cole Weaver in a back-and-forth 7-6 matchup. Cortez, who is locked in a tooth-and-nail battle with Nick Lee for the spot at 141, finally showed he’s not going to go down without a fight.
At 149 and 157 Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf did their respective things. Retherford picked on poor ‘ol Davey Tunon and picked up a fall in 3:42. Meanwhile, Nolf just absolutely walloped IU’s Jake Danishek to get the pin in 1:30.
After the intermission it was the return of Vincenzo Joseph, or so we thought. Joseph has missed time for undisclosed reasons over the last month and looked set to come back before Indiana forfeited the weight. The good news is, Cenzo made weight and looked healthy doing so.
Mark Hall used a Houdini act to avoid giving up the first takedown to Indiana’s Devin Skatkza and then proceeded to tilt the Hoosier like he were an old pinball game en route to a 17-0 tech fall at the 4:56 mark.
Up at 184, Bo Nickal couldn’t be bothered for time as he threw Norman Conley to his back and pinned him in just :42, his fifth fall of the season, all of which have come inside a minute.
Anthony Cassar looked as good as he has all season at 197. Cassar, who appears to be getting a bit more comfortable in his role and in a bit better shape, rolled to a 16-5 major decision with over three minutes of riding time against Spencer Irick.
In the final bout of the contest, Nick Nevills put in a workmanlike performance against Indiana’s Fletcher Miller to give himself an 11-3 major decision and give Penn State a 5-0 dual meet record.
The Nittany Lions now prepare for the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee on the first and second of January. The Scuffle is generally regarded as one of the nation’s best tournaments and with a deep field, should give Penn State a good idea of where they currently stand in the landscape of the 2017-18 team race.
125: Elijah Oliver IND dec. Devin Schnupp PSU, 7-2 / 0-3
133: #18 Corey Keener PSU maj. dec. Garrett Pepple IND, 11-3 / 4-3
141: Jered Cortez PSU dec. #12 Cole Weaver IND, 6-5 / 7-3
149: #1 Zain Retherford PSU pinned Davey Tunon IND, WBF (3:42) / 13-3
157: #1 Jason Nolf PSU pinned Jake Danishek IND, WBF (1:30) / 19-3
165: #1 Vincenzo Joseph PSU win by forfeit / 25-3
174: #2 Mark Hall PSU tech fall Devin Skatzka IND, 17-0 (TF; 4:56) / 30-3
184: #1 Bo Nickal PSU pinned Norman Conley IND, WBF (0:42) / 36-3
197: #9 Anthony Cassar PSU maj. dec. Spencer Irick IND, 16-5 / 40-3
285: #3 Nick Nevills PSU maj. dec. Fletcher Miller IND, 11-3 / 44-3