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Wrestling Postview: #1 Penn State Decisions #12 Nebraska, 25-6

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Another top program came into into Rec Hall to fight, and while they left with lopsided team defeat, the individual bouts were much, much closer.

Nittany Lions celebrate 2016 National Championship
JP Pearson

These are the dog days of the Wrestling Winter. The meat of the conference season, what many call “the grind.”

Last weekend, Coach Chris Bono brought a game Wisconsin squad into Rec Hall to do battle, and this weekend Mark Manning did the same with his Nebraska team.

Since I made such a big deal last week about the difference between the way it appeared that Northwestern wrestled Penn State, vs Wisconsin’s approach to the #1 Nittany Lions, check out this surprising result from the Northwestern-Wisconsin dual on Friday night:

I agree, kavija66; I did not expect that. Look at all that bonus!

But back to today, here are a few Noteworthy Achievements in today’s result:

  • After last weekend’s Wiscy dual, in which Wisconsin was the first team to win more than two bouts against PSU, the Lions got back to their 8-bout-win 2019 dual meet style.
  • Penn State won the takedown advantage 24-7.
  • The Lions had been averaging over 43 takedowns per dual meet.
  • This was the first dual this year where Penn State earned only one Bonus Point win.
  • Both Jason Nolf & Bo Nickal had their Bonus Point win streaks snapped.
  • Nebraska held PSU to 2-point or less victory margins in 5 different bouts.
  • PSU’s Conference Dual Meet winning streak is now at 30. Penn State hasn’t lost a conference dual since an 18-12 defeat to Iowa at the Bryce Jordan Center, on February 8, 2015.
  • Penn State’s overall Dual Meet winning streak is now at 52. Penn State hasn’t lost any dual meet since a 21-18 defeat to Oklahoma State, in Stillwater, on February 15, 2015.

125 #15 Zeke Moisey DEC Devin Schnupp 6-1; Nebraska 3-0.

Schnupp continues to be incredibly fun to watch wrestle favored opponents. His effort and attitude are indefatigable.

Moisey got a takedown and a long ride in the first, and an escape, another takedown and another long ride in the second. But he couldn’t turn him, and in the third, Schnupp escaped, but fought in the center of the mat, and prevented a third takedown, avoiding a Major Decision loss.

133 #14 Roman Bravo-Young MD Jevon Parrish, 20-7; PSU 4-3

RBY missed his only opportunity so far this year to enter the national conversation at what has quickly become the most talked-about 2019 weight class, when he got pinned by Austin Gomez in the Southern Scuffle semifinals, thereby missing a chance to face Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix.

But aside from getting his arms caught up over his head, and getting thrown to his back, in that match he was winning 8-1, Bravo-Young has continued to showcase his value with bonus win after bonus win.

Today he was Penn State’s only one.

Parrish is a true freshman who had his redshirt removed on Friday night, and you can see his potential. But RBY rekt him with three takedowns and 1:52 of riding time in the first period.

He finished with 2 more in the second and 3 more in the third.

141 Nick Lee DEC Chad Red 5-4; PSU, 7-3.

In the Excitement Department, this was not anything like their first match against each other in the Indiana State Finals three years ago (Clay posted the video in today’s preview, where you can also read through bubba0077’s excellent pbp scoring of today’s dual).

It was also a very oddly reffed bout.

Red caught a stall warning in neutral in the first period, after which Lee earned a takedown and rideout to the end of the period. In the second, Lee struggled to get out from bottom, but Red earned a second stall call while top-riding. So it was 3-0 to begin the third, with Red choosing down and with 1:12 of RT.

In the third, Red escaped and got a takedown, but then got a third stall call while riding, making the score 4-3, Lee. Nebraska Coach Manning challenged something and got a bench warning for whatever it was.

Before the final buzzer, Lee earned an escape, and when Red’s RT point was added, the final was 5-4.

There was a bit of a discussion about the bout on Twitter.

In glorious internet fashion, the discourse continued, and ended with what I think is a pretty fair case about stall calls.

149 #10 Brady Berge DEC Jordan Shearer 7-4; PSU, 10-3.

Berge bounced back from his Wisconsin defeat.

He got a takedown in the first and towards the end of the period, he hung on the ankles and chose the stall warning, versus allowing the escape.

In the second, Shearer escaped after 40 seconds but forced a deliberate-looking potentially dangerous and a separate stalemate to earn two restarts on Berge shots.

The third period got a little roly-poly. Berge got an escape and a takedown to make it 5-1, but then gave up a locked hands penalty and a reversal, to make it 5-4. He then got an escape and the RT for the final score.

157 Jason Nolf DEC Tyler Berger 10-4; PSU 13-3.

I’ve been watching Nolf - Berger for 3 years and only today learned that Berger was a 4x Oregon State Champ. He was the second Husker wrestler to deliberately force potentially dangerous calls to get out of a scramble and force a restart. It was ugly, too- he really bent the knee.

Nolf had two takedowns in the first period, while Berger forced a restart on a third attempt. A ploy he employed again in the second, to hold Nolf to only one takedown.

In the third, Berger earned a stall call on bottom before Nolf released him. He forced yet another stalemate, and then Nolf scored his 4th takedown. Then he earned a penalty point for hands to the face, but also forced another stalemate to keep the result to a decision.

Quipped Jeff Byers on the mic during: “this is the #2-ranked wrestler in the country, and he’s got nothing for Jason Nolf.”

165 Vincenzo Joseph DEC Isaiah White, 2-0; PSU 16-3.

Welcome back, Vincenzo!

This kid is a tough, tough matchup for Cenzo; White took him to overtime last March in the Quarterfinals. This afternoon was no different.

Neither wrestler took any serious attacks in the first period. And in the second, Cenzo put a beast ride on and White never escaped. In the third, White tried to return the favor, and did so successfully until 1:06 was left on the clock, and Cenzo finally escaped.

Back in neutral, and effectively losing 2-0, White took only one half-shot and added two soft knee taps, but never displayed any urgency. I’m not really sure what to make of that style, but Byers, also surprised, said: “White seems content to lose this.”

174 #1 Mark Hall DEC #9 Mikey Labriola, 5-3; PSU 19-3.

Labriola is 2x PA State Champ, and he was another Husker wrestler who succeeded in keeping his loss to a Decision.

After a neutral stall call on Labriola in the first, Hall got in on a head-outside single on the right leg and ran a little bow and arrow on top briefly. In the second, he escaped after 22 seconds, but Labriola succeeded on an awkward-looking double-leg that really caught Hall off guard, and he earned a takedown. That was the first takedown scored on Hall in a dual this year.

In the third period, Hall got dinged for locked hands. He disputed, and the coaches challenged, but lost. Hall then got a stall warning, but held on for the riding time point and the final victory margin.

184 #5 Taylor Venz DEC Mason Manville, 7-1; PSU 19-6.

While it was certainly a bummer to miss seeing Rasheed get a shot at another top-ranked wrestlers, it sure was interesting watching Manville’s attempts. He weighed in at 168.6, and the size difference was noticeable:

But it wasn’t long before we saw why Cael chose him over Bisono & Hoopes.

Venz got a takedown in the first, but, in a sign of things to come, was unable to assert his trademark tilts on top, and Manville even earned an escape.

Venz escaped in the second, but neither wrestler was able to mount a successful attack.

In the third, Manville chose neutral and showed hints that we might get to see an upset, but even though he got in pretty well on the left ankle, Venz was able to use his length and weight to counter and score his own TD. From there, on bottom, Manville gave up two stall calls the Rec Hall was terribly disappointed in.

197 #1 Bo Nickal DEC #11 Eric Schultz, 8-6; PSU 22-6.

While I had trouble identifying exactly what was going on with Penn State Wrestling today, Nickal’s performance seemed to give a clue that maybe Cael worked them really hard this week. They were home all week and had no external competition on Friday, and it’s been rumored in past years that a big part of PSU’s extraordinary March performances has been the staff’s ability to train them to peak.

So, maybe a big part of this week’s grind is also self-imposed?

Anyway, Nickal came out attacking, like normal. He first worked a lefty underhook, to a right knee pick for his first takedown, and followed that by a double-leg for his second takedown of the period.

In the second period, Nickal escaped and scored a third takedown, but allowed Schultz an escape before the period ended.

In the third, Nickal did a fair bit of clock-checking, and looked more tired than I’m used to seeing him. Schultz sensed it, too, and capitalized with a takedown at the buzzer.

285 #4 Anthony Cassar DEC #14 David Jensen, 10-4; PSU 25-6.

Like last Friday against Northwestern’s Conan, Cassar gave up a lot of weight against Jensen, who weighed in at 275.6, to Cassar’s 230.4.

All the first period had to show for itself was a lone stalemate.

In the second, Cassar escaped, then capitalized on a slow, plodding Jensen shot, with a go-behind for his own takedown.

In the third, Cassar scored 3 takedowns, but without being able to ride the giant beast, he needed a 4th to earn the Major Decision, and he didn’t get it.

The Takery

I’ll borrow a bit from Byers on the mic afterward here, to get us started:

The two losses are going to be good learning experiences. Schnupp is getting better & better. Regarding Mason Manville, Penn State already knows: they have a wrestler who likes to get out there and scrap.

This was a very technically sound and very balanced Nebraska team. This is part of the building process—a building & learning experience, on the way to March.

I think all that is certainly true. But I’d also very much like to be a fly on the wall in the coaches room, so I could hear how they talk about their schedule and their training plan and the teams they have a chance to face during that training schedule and in that context.

Byers is right that Nebraska is tough, and they’ve created some pretty decent breadth along their ten weight classes as well—to go with the top-end firepower they’ve got in Berger and Venz and White.

But Penn State also did not look ... let’s call it “fresh.”

With a week at home between two home duals, with first Cenzo and now Rasheed being held out for minor recoveries, and given the immense training success of this coaching staff over the years, I think it’s fair to guess whether any lack of Penn State freshness today might have been intentional.