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Penn State turns possible tragedy into triumph, wins dual championship

After an unfortunate injury and questionable call, PSU boat races Oklahoma State, 27-13

Frank Molinaro

Well hot damn! That was sure something, eh?

In the “Dual of the Year” against Oklahoma State, exclusively on (or off) FloWrestling, Penn State’s wrestling team came up with undeniably it’s best performance yet this season.

Fourteen thousand plus people filled OkState’s Gallagher-Iba Arena and thousands more attempted to watch at home as the top-ranked Cowboys played host to Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions. And despite coming up against all odds, Sanderson’s squad was victorious.

The dual started at 125 pounds where freshman phenom Nick Suriano jumped out to quick lead over Okie State’s Nick Piccininni before coming up hobbling. After multiple failed attempts to put weight on his ankle, Suriano restarted the match before it was stopped by coach Cael Sanderson who elected to injury default out of the contest after it was clear Suriano could not put weight on the ankle.

Up at 133 George Carpenter did a fantastic job of keeping Cowboys’ stud freshman Kaid Brock to just a major decision to stem the bleeding. Jimmy Gulibon followed with a strong performance against undefeated, top-ranked Dean Heil and appeared to have Heil pinned twice in non-control fall situations that went uncalled. Heil was able to back his way to a 3-2 decision victory and the Poker were suddenly pulling away, up 13-0.

Think got even more tenuous up at 149 pounds when Zain Retherford, riding hard against second-ranked Anthony Collica in the second period, was called for two ridiculous stalling calls giving Collica a 1-0 lead. Retherford was, however, able to ride out the period and get an early escape in the third to tie the score at one. Collica was unable to get a takedown in the third period and Retherford pulled a tough, 2-1 victory after receiving a point for over a minute of riding time.

Momentum swung at 157 pounds, as it tends to do when Jason Nolf steps to the mat. Nolf absolutely annihilated sixth-ranked JoJo Smith. The sophomore pushed the pace and forced Smith to gas on his way to a 24-9 technical fall that put Penn State right back in the thick of things, down just 13-8.

It was more of the same for Penn State at 165 after the intermission as freshman Cenzo Joseph turned in his best performance of the season, picking up a nice feet-to-back takedown on his way to a major decision over number eight Chandler Rogers.

Freshman Mark Hall had his first rematch of the season as he squared off with Oklahoma State’s Kyle Crutchmer and pull out a clutch 3-2 decision win. Crutchmer appeared to be in on what would be the winning takedown before Hall cut across and got his hips behind for a slick counter-takedown to take the lead and eventually the match.

Up at 184 Bo Nickal continues to somehow shock me every match. We should all know better at this point, and yet. Taking on fourth-ranked Nolan Boyd, Nickal fought off an early shot and locked up Boyd in a nasty cradle to earn the fall and take all the life out of the Okie State crowd, putting PSU up 21-13.

Matt McCutcheon earned his best win of the season at 197, picking up two slick third-period takedowns to earn a 4-3 decision win over number eight Preseton Weigel, making the dual score 24-13 and clinching the victory for Penn State.

Nick Nevills iced the cake for PSU with a 10-5 victory over backup Cowboys’ heavyweight Derek White.

Outstanding Wrestler: It has to be Nolf, right? But also Nickal. And Cenzo had a hell of performance too! Ultimately, I’ll leave it up to you guys to decide comments.

*ed note: how can you leave off McCutcheon, who was the only one who beat a higher ranked guy on the day? — CG

Full results below:

125: #11 Nick Piccininni OKST inj. def. #2 Nick Suriano PSU, inj. def. (3:34). / 0-6

133: #3 Kaid Brock OKST maj. dec. George Carpenter PSU, 17-6. / 0-10

141: #1 Dean Heil OKST dec. #10 Jimmy Gulibon PSU, 3-2/ / 0-13

149: #1 Zain Retherford PSU dec. #2 Anthony Collica OKST, 2-1. / 3-13

157: #1 Jason Nolf PSU tech fall #6 Joe Smith OKST, 24-9 (TF; 7:00). / 8-13

165: #4 Vincenzo Joseph PSU maj. dec. #8 Chandler Rogers OKST, 12-4. / 12-13

174: #7 Mark Hall PSU dec. #9 Kyle Crutchmer OKST, 3-2. / 15-13

184: #2 Bo Nickal PSU pinned #4 Nolan Boyd OKST, WBF (0:38). / 21-13

197: #9 Matt McCutcheon PSU dec. #8 Preston Weigel OKST, 4-3. / 24-13

285: #3 Nick Nevills PSU dec. Derek White OKST, 10-5. / 27-13