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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 12 Minnesota

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Another home-away split in the weekend before the big guns come to town!

FloSports: FloWrestling Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota wrestling may not be quite the wrecking ball it purported to be for years under J Robinson, most recently in 2015 when they were ranked as high as second in the nation. Brandon Eggum, in his second year at the helm of the UM program, has them back on the right track and ranked (and recruiting really well), but what they’re facing in the conference is almost too much to overcome this year, with the Lions and Ohio State stockpiling talent in the weight room.

Last year, after taking a year off of each others’ schedules, the two teams drew to determine which weight they would start at - and unfortunately for the Gophers, 149 came up. And Penn State did what they do with that gauntlet, coming out to a hot start with a few pins, and never letting up. Prior to that, the Lions lost by one to Minnesota in 2015 in a dual meet in which no current starters wrestled.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #12 Minnesota

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Friday, 1/26, 7 pm

Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN

Lineup

No. 1 Penn State WT No. 12 Minnesota
No. 1 Penn State WT No. 12 Minnesota
Devin Schnupp (Fr., Lititz, PA) 125 #6 - Ethan Lizak (Jr., Schnecksville, PA)
Corey Keener (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA) 133 #12 - Mitch McKee (So., St. Michael, MN)
#7 - Nick Lee (Fr., Evansville, IN) OR Jered Cortez (Jr., Carol Stream, IL) 141 #10 - Tommy Thorn (Jr., St. Michael, MN)
#1 - Zain Retherford (Sr., Benton, PA) 149 #20 - Steve Bleise (Jr., Chelsea, MI)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Jr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 #18 - Jake Short (Sr., Inver Grove Heights, MN)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (So., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 #7 - Nick Wanzek (Sr., Inver Grove Heights, MN)
#2 - Mark Hall (So., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Chris Pfarr (Sr., Le Sueur, MN)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Jr., Allen, TX) 184 #19 - Owen Webster (So., Shakopee, MN) OR Dylan Anderson (Fr., Hudson, WI)
Anthony Cassar (So., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR #10 - Shakur Rasheed (Jr., Coram, NY) OR Matt McCutcheon (Sr., Apollo, PA) 197 Bobby Steveson (So., Apple Valley, MN) OR Brandon Krone (Jr., Anoka, MN)
#6 - Nick Nevills (Jr., Clovis, CA) 285 Rylee Streifel (So., Prior Lake, MN)

125 LBS

This one might get pretty painful. If Kuhn is certified, it might not get out of hand; but Schnupp will be doing his darnedest to stay off his back. Because it’s at home, I think he’ll be able to.

Prediction: Lizak by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 0, Minnesota 5

133 LBS

McKee’s last outing saw him decked by Michigan’s Stevan Micic, who only beat Keener by major decision. He’ll be out for a statement win - but don’t give up on Keener keeping this close, as the last time these two met (when Corey was in a CMU singlet), McKee pinned him. They’ll be closer this time, but I’m not sure it’s enough for Corey to be victorious.

Prediction: McKee by Decision

Score: PSU 0, Minnesota 8

141 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

This should be a good one, and a barometer of what we can expect from Nick as the season progresses. Thorn is a returning All-American, a veteran wrestler who has some good wins on the season so far (including bonus points against OSU’s Joey McKenna). Wrestlestat predicts this one will be a close one, but I don’t really think so - Nick comes out on fire, and the final score is closer than this match feels.

Prediction: Lee by Decision

Score: PSU 3, Minnesota 8

149 LBS

Zain has a ranked wrestler on his docket this week. I’m not so sure it matters.

Prediction: Zain by Pin

Score: PSU 9, Minnesota 8

157 LBS

Nolf and Short have wrestled two times before, and the Penn Stater’s won both of them by fall. I almost picked Short to go the distance in this one...but this is Nolf. He’s so far ahead of the field, it isn’t even funny.

Prediction: Nolf by Pin

Score: PSU 15, Minnesota 8

165 LBS

After a close win a year ago in Minneapolis, Cenzo came out and decked Wanzek in his first match at the Big Ten tournament (I would love to see a photo of this again, please). They were at different points in their career back then, with Wanzek the veteran ranked wrestler and Cenzo the unproven freshman - and then the title happened. Cenzo’s wrestling with as much confidence as anybody in the nation, and I don’t expect this one to feel close, despite the lack of bonus points.

Prediction: Cenzo by Decision

Score: PSU 18, Minnesota 8

174 LBS

The last of the Pfarr brothers is still in a UM singlet, in his last year of eligibility. Pfarr’s never made it onto the podium, and he’s having an NCAA-qualifying type year but likely won’t challenge for All-American. Hall is so creative that he’ll be able to counter any offense that Pfarr shows. But I’m not expecting Pfarr to be susceptible to the cement mixer, and nor will he accidentally pin himself like Hall’s opponent last week; this one won’t feel in doubt, and Hall’ll get bonus.

Prediction: Hall by Major Decision

Score: PSU 22, Minnesota 8

184 LBS

Bo will either wrestle a freshman or a sophomore, at home. Even if it is the ranked Webster, this one won’t get out of the second period.

Prediction: Bo by Pin

Score: PSU 28, Minnesota 8

197 LBS

Last weekend saw the Lions coaches split the duals between Shakur Rasheed and Anthony Cassar, with the former getting the Friday dual. He’ll face either Mark Hall’s former teammate and Gable Steveson’s (the #1 overall recruit in the 2018 wrestling class, committed to Minnesota) brother, or a junior who’s currently listed at 174 on the Gopher website. If it’s ‘Sheed, this one should be fun.

Prediction: Rasheed by Pin

Score: PSU 34, Minnesota 8

285 LBS

Nick proved me a doubter last week, besting a higher ranked wrestler by reiterating what a tough rider he can be. I expect more of the same this week, with a bit more catch-and-release as Nick works on his offense - but this is one he should win, big and easily.

Prediction: Nick by Major Decision

Score: PSU 38, Minnesota 8


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Penn State is #2, and Minnesota is #16 . It’s either that or Flo’s rankings (BTN has an exclusive contract), but I must be internet illiterate because I can’t find a link to updated Flo rankings. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because, a) this happens to be a dual meet, and b) it’s a better ranking for the Nittany Lions (and Minnesota).