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Wrestling Postview: #1 Penn State Shuts Out Severely Depleted Lehigh, 42-0

Nittany Lions celebrate 2016 National Championship
JP Pearson

Cael Sanderson’s undefeated dual meet streak against Lehigh continued today, as the Nittany Lions dominated the injury-decimated Mountain Hawks, 42-0.

Compare that Lehigh lineup above, with Lehigh’s projected “starting lineup” from the preseason:

7 of 10 Starters were injured and didn’t go vs Penn State today. 8 of 10, if you count Jacobsen over Weiler. Just a brutal situation for Pat Santoro’s team. Here’s hoping they can get at least a few of those guys healthy by March.

Other noteworthy, if asterisk-heavy, achievements in today’s result:

  • This was the first time in their long history that Penn State has ever shut out Lehigh
  • Penn State won the takedown advantage 48-0.
  • Penn State scored 123 bout points total (includes scores before pins in Nolf, Cenzo bouts)
  • Lehigh scored 38 bout points—every single one of them from escapes!
  • Penn State hasn’t lost a dual meet since February 15, 2015, a 21-18 defeat to Oklahoma State in Stillwater; their winning streak is now extended to 48

197 #1 Bo Nickal TF #15 Jake Jacobsen, 19-4 (5:31); PSU 5-0.

Unlike last year, when Penn State didn’t take the lead until the 9th of 10 bouts, and after a random draw determined today’s dual would begin at 197, Bo Nickal put the Lions in a lead they never relinquished.

He led 10-2 with 1:25 RT after one, and 15-3 with 1:43 RT after two.

Two third-period takedowns and Bo put an end to the bout and Rec Hall on its feet.

285 #5 Anthony Cassar MD #6 Jordan Wood 12-3; PSU 9-0.

Man o man, Cassar looks good at heavyweight! Jeff Byers raved on the mic tonight about how at this weight, Cassar is “just brimming with confidence”, and you could see that confidence in each of Cassar’s two first period takedowns.

You could also see it in Anthony’s absolute refusal to get ridden, something his bottom wrestling lacked last year at 197, most conspicuously in the Bucknell dual against Garrett Hoffman. Today, he chose down in the second period and escaped in less than 5 seconds.

And in the third period, you could see the confidence in two more takedowns and the final riding time clock, which showed 2:44 in RT.

On Friday night after the Bucknell dual, Jeff Byers asked Assistant Coach Casey Cunningham about Cassar’s opportunity against Wood today, and Casey quipped:

“Yeah, but I’ve also seen him wrestle Jake Varner and Cael Sanderson. I know how he can compete. But yeah, getting him a chance to see somebody like that, in competition, it’ll be good for him.

On the mic with Ridge Riley award winner Anthony after the dual today, Byers followed up from that Casey quote by asking Cassar about the looks that Cael & Varner give him. Cassar replied:

I get the best feels in the country, from little guys that I wrestle— I wrestled Bravo the other day; and wrestling him, I pick my speed up, my reaction time. And then I’ll wrestle Varner and I’ll feel that strength, that power. So, I get the best feels, a lot of variation,

Byers asked about his mindset this year at heavyweight and noted how much fun it’s been watching him at this new weight. Cassar, laughing:

“It’s been fun for me too, a lot better than last year. I was cuttin a lot of weight, and this year I’m up at the weight I feel I’m supposed to be at. I feel true to myself.

Liftin heavy, eatin heavy, and life’s good.”

LOL, at this question from Byers, gettin the people what we all know or didn’t know we need to know: “Anthony, how powerful DO you feel?

I always felt strong on my double, at 97, but didn’t have a lot of that pop. But now I just feel I can blow through anyone. It feels good being able to come out here and blow through Jordan Wood, who’s a big, strong guy, so I’m feeling strong and powerful and true to myself up at this weight class.

Byers: “is 230 where you wanna be?”


I feel I’m lean and mean, and also big enough to compete with the guys when I’m at least 230. I’ve been weighin 230-235, feel good there.

And in terms of where to improve, I feel like I don’t really have a threat to just one position, I’m just improving in all three, and just puttin it together. I really wanna get more turns goin, so I’m tryin to implement those more into my competitions and training.

Byers: “It feels like they way you’re talking, maybe you’re talking about ‘taking another step’; is that a fair assessment?”

Yeah, that was a big focus coming up from last year. I’ve been working on it, but I feel I can get better at turning guys going forward.

125 Devin Schnupp DEC Luke Resnick 6-1; PSU 12-0

Byers noted that Resnick was a backup to Nick Farro, who’s a backup to Stanford transfer and former All-American Connor Schram, and that it might be a good opportunity for Schnupp to get his first dual win of the year.

Shnupp’s wrestling agreed!

He had a first period ankle pick, with no escape; escaped himself in the second. And in the third, he got another takedown and put on a heavy ride to the end.

He finished with 1:11 in riding time, moved to 4-3 on the season, and brought the very appreciative Rec Hall crowd to its feet again.

133 Roman Bravo-Young MD Brandon Paetzell 13-5; PSU 16-0

Man, here’s another newcomer to PSU’s lineup who is wrestling extremely well in all three positions. RBY got in on a quick takedown and then rode hard for :30 seconds, before cutting Paetzel loose. His second takedown was a shot to the left leg + outside trip around that same leg.

In his top wrestling, he just did not let him go, unless he changed his mind. Which he did early in the second. Paetzell was game for a fight and got in on a great outside single, but RBY first whizzered it, then played patience hopping on one foot. Then, with a perfect sense of timing and no small amount of athleticism, he tried something resembling a standing granby, and somersaulted into a counter-leg-attack and a takedown of his own to go up 6-2.

That’s my best effort at describing it. Here, you try:

After another TD and escape, the score 8-4 and only :36 left in the bout, the Major Decision looked like a long shot.

Roman Bravo-Young thought otherwise.

He put his speed and hustle game to the first of two needed takedowns

Then kept the pressure on and secured takedown #6 for the bout, and rode out the final :15 seconds, to finish with 3:07 in RT and earning the extra bonus point for the team.

141 Nick Lee MD Ryan Pomrinca 23-10; PSU, 20-0

In a showcase example of the difficulty and extra effort necessary to turn a dominant Major Decision 8-point victory margin into a superior Technical Fall 15-point margin of victory, Nick Lee fell just shy of the latter.

Lee’s game plan was clear from the outset: cut and release mercilessly and see what opportunities become available from there. The first period looked like this:

  • Head outside single on right leg, quick cut
  • Head outside single on right leg, quick cut
  • Head outside single right leg for TD3, quick cut
  • Same, on right leg, for TD4, quick cut
  • Same again, right leg for TD5, ride out, 10-4, 1:19 RT after one

Period Two looked like this:

  • Lee chose down, escaped
  • High crotch, head outside right leg for TD6, cuts him
  • Left leg single to double for TD7, cuts him
  • Head inside right leg, reaches across for other leg, TD8, cuts him
  • Misses TD7 before the buzzer, leads 17-7 1:51 in RT

Period Three:

  • Rides til RT locked, then cuts, 17-8
  • Stall on Pomrinca, 1pt to Lee, 18-8
  • TD9, on right leg, cuts; 20-9
  • TD10 left leg, cuts; 22-10
  • Pomrinca with serious pride on last shot, fights off Lee’s finish, add in RT for the 23-10 final

GoPSUSports sped up Lee’s second period and tweeted it

149 Jarod Verkleeren DEC Jimmy Hoffman 5-3; PSU, 23-0

For a guy in the middle of a desperate fight to make the starting lineup at this weight this year, Verkleeren’s wrestling didn’t align with that mission, in the urgency department.

Period One ended 0-0. Each grappler traded shots, but neither came terribly close to finishing.

In Period Two, Verkleeren chose down. In a sloppy, lazy-looking scramble, Verkleeren reversed him then worked a hard cross-face on top. Verk rode for about :40 before allowing Hoffman to escape.

The period ended with Verk fending off Hoffman’s double underhooks with a hard-pinched double overhooks of his own. Lots of potential fireworks there, but, again, neither guy exhibited the energy or urgency required to return to the mat and send points to the scoreboard.

In the third period, Hoffman escaped and quickly shot, but Verk worked it into his own takedown. Failing to ride out the period, he allowed Hoffman another escape, then took a late half-shot, before finishing with 1:34 of RT and the 5-3 final score.

Given the circumstances of his starting spot battle, the whole thing was rather uninspiring from Verkleeren. Credit Hoffman with also wrestling tough, if not quite attempting much offense of his own.

157 Jason Nolf WBF Josh Humphreys 6:19; PSU 30-0

Humphreys was a 4x West Virginia state champ, who got his redshirt pulled Friday night vs Princeton. He did wrestle Nolf quite tough.

Period One

  • Heavy Nolf head snaps, turns one into a TD
  • TD2 left ankle pick, cuts him
  • TD3 head outside right leg, scramble, cuts
  • Humphreys on left leg, couldn’t finish

Period Two

  • Nolf chose down, Humphreys with a nice ride of :42, before escape
  • Nolf in on right leg, but Humphreys scrambles into stalemate

Period Three

  • Humphreys chose down. Nolf working for cradles, half nelsons, cross faces, anything. Earned a stall point.
  • TD, cut
  • Standing cradle, pin at 6:19

165 Vincenzo Joseph WBF Trey Cornish 4:46; PSU 35-0

Last year at this weight, Cenzo sat out, Bo Pipher weighed in at 155.6 but wrestled up against the heavily-favored Gordon Wolf and brought some fight to him.

This year at this weight, Lehigh’s backup brought the fight!

But Cenzo did what Wolf could not last year, and earned the bonus point win—and the best kind, at at that.

Period One

  • Single to left leg, rides hard, heavy hands on the back of the head, cuts him
  • Single to left leg, TD2, cuts him
  • Blast double for TD3, cuts him
  • Left knee pick, working crossface, switched to chicken wing, tilts him for 4NF, 1:39 RT

Period Two

  • Cenzo chose neutral
  • Ankle pick for T5, cuts him
  • Sick left ankle pick, runs another arm bar.

Period Three

  • Cornish chose down.
  • Cenzo with near-side cradle, turned him into a game hen at 4:46, h/t kavija66 for the pun and the pbp in the open thread.

174 #2 Mark Hall DEC #7 Jordan Kutler, 6-2; PSU 38-0

Kutler is now 45-8 in his career, with three losses to Hall. Despite shouts from Coach Casey to “work the head”, the first period ended scoreless.

Period Two

  • Hall chose down, escapes after :22 of RT, 1-0
  • Head outside single drives/rolls through for TD1; 3-0
  • Spiral ride on the left, under the arm. Gets some wrist control, but no turns, :47 RT

Period Three

  • Kutler chose down. Hall threw legs in, worked all kinds of combos. Another odd stalemate call (2nd one), Casey shouting. Hall just turns into drapery when top-riding!
  • Kutler got to his feet, Hall released
  • Head outside left leg, steps over, pops head, TD 2, Kutler escapes
  • One last shot, to no avail, 1:38 RT

That was a little more dominant than last year’s 3-2 result. Hall has widened the gap, but remains three takedowns away from a Major. For Kutler to close that distance, he’s got to mentally decide to throw caution away and attack more, but that’s about the best advice I can give him.

And I’m not terribly confident it will do the job.

So listen to your coaches, Jordan! And you do you, sir.

184 Shakur Rasheed MD Andrew Price, 11-2; PSU 42-0.

Period One

  • Head inside left leg, pulls it in, TD1
  • Price escape
  • Big double, left leg, long arms, TD2
  • Better pressure in second ride, controlled left wrist, riding his head into the triceps. Price breifly considered a standing granby on his feet, but thought better of it, probably wisely. 2:14RT

Period Two

  • Rasheed chose down, quick E1
  • Ankle pick of both legs at once with his long arms, for TD3; 7-1,
  • Heavy ride from left side on left arm, stall warn on Price

Period Three

  • Price chose neutral
  • Stall on Price
  • TD4, plus RT = 11-2 final score

Here are the Big Ten Network’s “Top Plays”

#3 Nolf pin

#2 Cenzo pin

#1 RBY standing somersault flying squirrel acrobatic calisthenic

The Takery

Got dang, do injuries suck!

Heal up, Lehigh, and we’ll hope to see you healthy in Pittsburgh next March.

If your cable provider has the Big Ten Network, you can rewatch the whole dual at this link, after entering your cable provider credentials: