Spearheaded by thirty-four takedowns, Penn State dominated #10 Illinois to a 34-7 victory in front of a sold-out Rec Hall crowd, leaving only a weak Maryland team in the way of a second consecutive perfect Big Ten dual season, and the Big Ten Dual Championship.
Number two Nick Suriano got things started at 125 with a 17-6 major decision over Travis Piotrowski, narrowly missing a technical fall. Suriano got to Piotrowski’s legs with ease the entire match, showing off an impressive arsenal of shots in the process. At 133, George Carpenter energized the Rec Hall crowd by holding national title contender (and sixth-ranked) Zane Richards to a 19-7 major decision, bringing the team score to 4-4 after the first two bouts.
Jimmy Gulibon, ranked 11, continued his excellent run of form at 141, wearing down Mousa Jodeh, then recording two takedowns and two back points en route to a 10-2 major decision. Gulibon, known most for his neutral offense, had one of his best matches in recent memory in the top position. Speaking of Nittany Lions good on top, #1 Zain Retherford pinned top-20 Eric Barone at the 4:09 mark, bringing the team score to 14-4.
At 157, top-ranked Jason Nolf had a more difficult time with a persistent bloody nose than he did with twelfth ranked Kyle Langenderfer, as he recorded a 26-11 technical fall without scoring any back points, despite having the match stopped repeatedly for the aforementioned bloody nose.
The most anticipated match of the night was between Vincenzo Joseph, ranked fourth, of Penn State and college wrestling’s resident villain, two-time NCAA champion, Junior #1 Isaiah Martinez. Joseph showed that he could compete with the best of the best in the weight class, losing a 5-2 decision in which two of Martinez’s points were scored in the last five seconds, bringing the team score to 19-7.
After being denied the chance to wrestle in his Rec Hall debut against Northwestern two weeks ago due to a Northwestern forfeit, #7 Mark Hall obliterated last year’s Big Ten Runner-up and twelfth ranked Zac Brunson 17-1 at 174. Hall, despite clearly being the smaller wrestler, wracked up back points at will on Brunson, showcasing the technical expertise that made him the most coveted recruit in the nation just one year ago, and putting the rest of the field at 174 on notice. At 184, #2 Bo Nickal used a big move in the closing stages of the third period to score a major decision over #12 Emery Parker, 18-5. Nickal came incredibly close to getting the fall, but Parker was able to fight it off as time ran down, bringing the team score to 28-7.
At 197, ninth ranked Matt McCutcheon used a third-period takedown off a high single to win 3-1 over Andre Lee, bringing the team score to 31-7. Hoping to avenge one of his losses at the Big Ten Championships from a season ago, #3 Nick Nevills showed impressive top game against a full-size heavyweight in fifteenth-ranked Brooks Black, getting the ride-out in the second period while forcing Black into giving up a stalling point, then working for an escape and takedown in the third period to win 4-0, bringing the final score to 34-7.
Wrestler of the Match
Mark Hall made his Rec Hall mat debut count, and his complete dominance over a much-larger and beefed up Zac Brunson will make the field at 174 uneasy. Hall, who is undersized for 174, will be even more dangerous at a multi-day tournament like the NCAA championships where those who are right up against the 174 lb limit start to struggle with the cut come Friday night for the semifinals.
Bout by Bout
125: #2 Nick Suriano PSU maj. dec. Travis Piotrowski ILL, 17-6 / 4-0
133: #6 Zane Richards ILL maj. dec. George Carpenter PSU, 19-7 / 4-4
141: #11 Jimmy Gulibon PSU maj. dec. Mousa Jodeh ILL, 10-2 / 8-4
149: #1 Zain Retherford PSU pinned #19 Eric Barone ILL, WBF (4:09) / 14-4
157: #1 Jason Nolf PSU tech fall #12 Kyle Langenderfer ILL, 26-11 (TF; 6:45) / 19-4
165: #1 Isaiah Martinez ILL dec. #4 Vincenzo Joseph PSU, 5-2 / 19-7
174: #7 Mark Hall PSU tech fall #12 Zac Brunson ILL, 16-1 (TF; 7:00) / 24-7
184: #2 Bo Nickal PSU maj. dec. #12 Emery Parker ILL, 18-5 / 28-7
197: #9 Matt McCutcheon PSU dec. Andre Lee ILL, 3-1 / 31-7
285: #3 Nick Nevills PSU dec. #15 Brooks Black ILL, 5-0 / 34-7
Penn State improves to 12-0 (8-0). They will return to action at Rec Hall on Sunday against Maryland at 2 PM. Penn State will be debuting black and pink singlets on Sunday, which will be a sight to see, and if you’re in attendance - wear black!