On Day One of the 2018 Southern Scuffle, Penn State administered a bunch of pins, advanced seven scoring wrestlers and one non-scoring wrestler into the Semifinals, and had two wrestlers medically forfeit out of the tournament. Before action kicked off this morning, the Nittany Lions led the team race with 101 points, ahead of second-place Northern Iowa who had 81.5.
Let’s dig in!
Unquestioned Answer: Devin Schnupp isn’t ready to qualify for Nationals.
Remaining Question: Is rumored incoming transfer from Boise State, Carson Kuhn, an answer?
Unanswered Question Now Answered: any team points that might come from Corey Keener at Nationals will likely be from Bonus wins early in the Championship bracket or early in the Consolation bracket, and not likely from Placement Points.
Remaining Question: is Keener injured in such a way that this prospect could be improved? His left hand and thumb were heavily bandaged.
Cortez was wrestling ‘attached’ and was the registered scoring wrestler for Penn State in the team race. His ankle rolled over late in the win over Lamb and he was in visible anguish on the mat. With less than 15 seconds left in the bout, he & Cael decided to finish the bout for the win, but he was unable to put any weight on it, and he medically forfeited out of the tournament. It was a massive bummer for a kid who struggled last year with a shoulder injury.
Nick Lee is wrestling ‘unattached’, has paid his own way to Chattanooga, does not rep a PSU singlet during competition and does not send any Team Points to PSU. His scoring chart is hypothetical, but you can see the Bonus potential he brings. He’s got a massive test this afternoon against the top-5 talent Alber in the semis.
Unanswered Question #1 Answered: in a tragic turn of events, the question of who will represent PSU at Nationals at this weight was likely answered by Cortez’ injury. While this may have ended up being the result anyway, nobody wanted to see it answered by injury.
Unanswered Question #2 Answered: I may have been the only one actually still asking this question, but the prospect of Cortez dropping to 133, where he began last year, and being Penn State’s representative, instead of Keener, took a big hit as well. It remains to be seen how severe the ankle injury is, and there remain 10 or so weeks until the Big Ten Tournament, so it’s possible that either of these return from Answers, to Questions in the coming weeks.
Remaining Question: can Nick Lee earn Placement Points at Nationals? I.e., can he make the podium / place top-8 / earn All-American honors in his TRFR season? A victory over Alber in today’s semifinal could provide an emphatic ‘yes’ answer, and quite soon.
Zain’s bracket had five pigtail bouts beyond the 32-man bracket, so he earned one Advancement Point via an R64 bye, because he won his next match. As such, he’s only a half point off the team lead in the Perfection Race. Perfection being pinning all the way through the tournament. We’ll cover unattached Verkleeren in the summary tomorrow.
Unquestioned Answer Still an Answer: it’s quite painful wrestling against Zain Retherford.
Nolf’s bracket had three pigtails beyond the 32, so he also earned an Adv Point via bye. Additionally, he’s tied atop the PSU Perfection Leaderboard.
Unquestioned Answer Still an Answer: there’s nobody in this tourney bracket who can hang with Nolf.
That long-haired bro from Drexel gave Cenzo a battle! Cenzo was never terribly threatened, but he struggled to get into rhythm and had to work very hard to set up his attacks. Injury deprived us of this semifinal matchup in the Lehigh Dual, when Cael sent out 149-pounder Bo Pipher to battle the Wolf, so it will be nice to witness this time around.
Unanswered Question Still NOT Answered: is Chance Marsteller a title contender? Apologies to Cenzo for the limelight shift here, but Marsteller’s a PA legend and tons of Penn State fans still have their eye on him. He outlasted redshirting freshman Mekhi Lewis from NC State in a stirring quarterfinal battle and faces UNI’s 2-seed Bryce Steiert for the right to face Cenzo, if Cenzo also wins.
One of those dang Finesilver bros (there’s like 4 of them on Duke’s roster) knocked Hall from the Perfection Race.
Unquestioned Answer Still an Answer: Mark Hall’s technical positioning is as sound as they come.
Nickal’s bracket had less than 32 wrestlers, so he got no bye Advancement Point, but that fact does not eliminate him from the Perfection Race! He & Nolf are the lone contenders. Nickal’s semifinals opponent Nick Reenan, a redshirting TRSO Wolf from NC State, could be considered tougher than Nolf’s former AA Paul Fox and I wouldn’t argue, but we’ve seen there’s no limit to the talent level of guys who have been pinned by Nickal.
Unquestioned Answer Still an Answer: Bo Knows Pinning.
You guys remember Shakur Rasheed, right? Two years ago while Vincenzo was redshirting, he had beaten out Pitt transfer Gino Morelli for the vacant 165-pound spot, but couldn’t sustain the weight cut enough to rep PSU there at Nationals. Last year, Nickal bumped up to 184 from 174, Mark Hall came out of redshirt at 174 and Vincenzo came out of redshirt at 165. So Rasheed used the year to hit the weights and he’s now trying to compete with Anthony Cassar for the right to rep PSU at 197 this year. And look at him go! Two solid, dominating Majors, then a standing cradle with those freaky long arms in the quarters has him as PSU’s leading attached scorer at this weight, four whole points ahead of Cassar.
Matt McCutcheon also had to medically forfeit, after reinjuring his lower back, so this is the race. Cassar probably has the tougher semifinals matchup, but it would not be a surprise to see these two face off in the Finals tonight.
Questions: lots remain. We’ll postpone until tomorrow to tackle this line item.
Nevills took a shocking quarterfinals loss to another dang Wolf from NC State, and hooboy was this dude massive! Mostly, the bout was going as scheduled for Nevills (no first period scoring, a quick Nevills p2 escape, and a tough Nevills ride in p3), until Boykin got atop his own tree trunk legs and caused Nevills to lose balance from his controlling position, resulting in a Boykin reversal. Still, after the Nevills escape it was tied 3-3. Until Boykin shot in a slick (for a big man) single leg that provided the margin of victory.
Unanswered Question Still Not Answered: can Nevills still get to top-3 or top-4 at Nationals? This loss was a minor hiccup I’m personally not worried about. That said, for this question to be a ‘yes’, he has to finish 3rd here today.
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