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Wrestling Postview: #1 Penn State Defeats Indiana, 35-9.

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The Hoosier State Tour ends with Devin Schnupp’s first Big Ten dual victory!

Nittany Lions celebrate 2016 National Championship
JP Pearson

After losing three bouts in an otherwise solid thumping of Purdue on Friday, the Lions traveled from West Lafayette to Bloomington to the brand-new Wilkinson Hall (dedicated earlier this month) on the campus of Indiana University, and returned to typical dual meet form in winning 8 of 10 bouts.

But against the over-matched Hoosiers, the story of today was not the variety or quickness with which a favored star Penn Stater dominated his opponent.

It was Penn State’s own often overmatched 125-pounder, redshirt Sophomore Devin Schnupp, who continued his effort-based rapid improvement and finished with his first Big Ten dual meet win!

Noteworthy Achievements in today’s result:

  • Wisconsin (4) and Purdue (3) are the only teams to have won more than two bouts against the Lions this year, but the Hoosiers were unable to join them.
  • Penn State won the takedown advantage 21-4.
  • PSU under Cael Sanderson is now 135-14-2 in Dual Meets and 70-10-1 in Big Ten Dual Meets.
  • Nick Nevills, Bo Nickal & Jason Nolf were the captains for the coin toss.
  • Wilkinson Hall is a 3000-seat facility, and PSU Radio Announcer Jeff Byers eyeball-estimated a 2700-2800 attendance in it, quipping that there were “not many empty seats to be found.”
  • PSU’s Conference Dual Meet winning streak is now at 32. 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 54. Penn State hasn’t lost any dual meet since a 21-18 defeat to Oklahoma State, in Stillwater, on February 15, 2015.

Today’s meet began at 184.

184 Norman “Buddy” Conley DEC Francisco Binono, 5-1 ; Indiana 3-0.

Period One

  • TD1 for Conley, short ride, Bisono escape.
  • TD2 for Conley.

Period Two

  • Bisono with a strong ride, but not close to turning. Still, some very strong mat mat returns.

Period Three

  • Bisono chose down. After OOB, hustled back to center, but could never escape. Riding time point to Conley finished the scoring.

Byers reported that Shakur Rasheed had a couple good workouts this weekend, and guessed that it was “more likely than not that Rasheed” returns against Michigan on Friday. He added that Rasheed was “moving around pretty well.”

197 #1 Bo Nickal WBF (:58) Jake Kleimola; PSU 6-3.

This was the 11th pin of the season, 52nd of Nickal’s career. BTN’s got the hookup.

285 #4 Anthony Cassar DEC Fletcher Miller, 11-4: PSU 9-3.

Weigh-in Weights

  • Cassar 231.4.
  • Miller 272.2.
  • Math: Cassar gave up 41.8 pounds.

Period One

  • A Cassar head gear issue brought Nickal, Casey Cunningham and Jake Varner all out to solve.
  • Blast double for TD1, released him.
  • Single to double for TD2, rode to finish the period.

Period Two

  • Miller chose down, released.
  • Blast double for TD3.
  • Byers saw Cassar at breakfast. He told Byers he likes being able to eat what he wants. Byers added: “he’s smart about it; does not put much junk at all in that body.”

Period Three

  • Cassar chose down, escaped.
  • Single to double for TD4, with :47 left.
  • At first chose to ride and try to turn but inexplicably cut him with :24 left.
  • Then got taken down himself with :11 left.
  • Got the escape but not the 5th takedown that was then needed for the Major.
  • He finished with 2:40 in RT.

That was a mental mistake. Anthony should have checked the clock before making that decision.

125 Devin Schnupp DEC Liam Cronin 5-2; PSU 12-3.

Period One

  • Still a heavy head bandage.
  • Lots of over-under struggles, thwarted some body lock attempts.

Period Two

  • Schnupp chose down, Cronin worked a bow & arrow.
  • Schnupp granby attempt nearly got caught, but rolled through.
  • Second granby roll, grabbed an ankle, forced a big scramble, finishes the reversal!
  • Plus a locked hands called on Cronin during the scramble!
  • Gave up the stall warn while ankle-hanging to end the period.

Period Three

  • Cronin chose down
  • Shoulder roll to escape, adds a head push after whistle, oob.
  • Schnupp on a shot, headlock fought off.
  • Physical bout, both guys bangin.
  • Big throw, but Schnupp rolled through I don’t even know how, but ended up with a leg and finished with the takedown!
  • Another Cronin shoulder roll to escape, 5-2.
  • Another big headlock attempt, unsuccessful.

First Big Ten Win!!!

133 Penn State Forfeited to Garrett Peppel; PSU 12-9

Roman Bravo-Young injured his knee on Friday against Purdue, only 3 days after Gavin Teasdale put the finality on his Penn State affiliation. As such, choices here for Cael on a road trip were extremely limited. Brody Teske is reported to have traveled with the team, but so far has preserved his redshirt for the year, and he has been targeting wrestling 125 next year, if not also this year. So one of he or Schnupp would have had to bump up to wrestle 133.

While forfeits in general are terrible for the sport, most reasonable wrestling fans can likely appreciate this decision to do so here.

And if we’re at all interested in having either a forfeit or “ducking” discussion in the comments, let’s add that on Friday, Iowa’s Spencer Lee had a takedown in each period before pinning Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski. But today vs #1 Sebastian Rivera, he sat, in favor of backup Perez Perez.

Did Cael have Cenzo duck Evan Wick? Or Rasheed duck Taylor Venz? What are some good criteria for what constitutes a “duck?” Inquiring writers (me) want to know.

141 #7 Nick Lee MD Kyle Luigs, 13-3; PSU 16-9.

Lee and Luigs were high school teammates at Evansville, IN.

Period One

  • Single for TD1.
  • Scramble results in escape and another single for TD2.
  • Luigs missed on a headlock attempt, Lee dropped to another head-outside single, had the right leg turked with his, fought hard for the turn, but unsuccessfully.

Period Two

  • Luigs chose down.
  • Big scramble, briefly on his back, but no near fall points.
  • Worked the arm bar, to no avail.
  • Stall warn, Lee finished the ride.

Period Three

  • Reversal, then cut him loose, 8-3.
  • Shot from Luigs, snap down, go behind for TD3.
  • Finally got the wrist locked up for a full turn, only given 3 count, so only 2 NF.
  • Lee with a tight cross face and tight elbow grip, but couldn’t turn again.
  • Finished with 4:45 in RT.

Pretty good cheers for Lee the Indiana native on exit.

149 Jarrod Verkleeren DEC Fernando Silva, 6-4; PSU 19-9

Period One

  • Silva in on left leg early, Verk fought it off.
  • Byers: Berge’s ok, wanted to give him a weekend off to refresh the body.
  • One knee tap from Verk.
  • Head inside single, shelfed, lifted, tripped, pretty!
  • Half-shot on double-leg, immediately bailed by standing up.

Period Two

  • Silva chose down.
  • No ride, easy escape.
  • Silva in behind, Verk with the hand touch, so TD for Silva.
  • Verk away quickly, 3-4.
  • More shots from Silva.

Period Three

  • Crowd got louder.
  • Verk down, stands, whizzers, escapes.
  • Half shot by Verk, followed by shot by Silva, both end in standing.
  • Great drop into a head-inside single, shelfed, fought through a whizzer, gets the other leg, for TD2.
  • Rideout for the win!

Man, Verk’s singles are really pretty when he takes them! He’s now 14-4 on the season, 2-0 in B1G duals. That offensive and attack-mode mentality continues to be something to work on going into next year when Verkleeren is presumed to take over the starting 149 role, as Berge moves up to replace Nolf.

157 #1 Jason Nolf WBF (2:46) Breyden Bailey; PSU 25-9

Bailey bumping up a weight. Danishek did not weigh in.

Period One

  • Pretty big head slaps; Indy kid’s a gamer.
  • Leg sweep trip, but didn’t finish immediately, lifted the leg, did finish.
  • Upon restart, ran a strong half, turned him, got 4 NF, but no pin.
  • Hard crossface, switches to a hard headlock.
  • Bailey escape, Nolf immediately on a double.
  • Nolf bobbin his head to music during blood timeout.
  • Cut him, then big headlock, super tight.

Lordy. Longtime watchers of Jason Nolf can definitely see an additional ... let’s call it “edge,” to his wrestling this year. We’re seeing lots of intention added to his already versatile attack arsenal and limitless gas tank.

We should also credit Bailey here, as he demonstrated far more fight in his battling than Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin did.

This was Nolf’s 11th pin of the season and PSU-record-book-leading 56th of his career.

165 #1 Vincenzo Joseph WBF 1:23 Bryce Martin; PSU 31-9

Period One

  • High-crotch single and finish for TD1.
  • Hard crossface and tight elbow control, turking the right leg.
  • Martin beat Cenzo back to center mat after OOB!
  • Crossfacing haaaard.
  • Locks a near-side cradle, turns him, decks him.

This was Cenzo’s 10th pin of the season.

174 #1 Mark Hall MD Jake Covaciu, 11-4; PSU 35-9

The “i’ and ‘u’ are silent, as in “Covach.”

I was curious how much Hall would work for a pin here, given “team wrestling” nnat, but Covaciu brought more than enough fight to prevent it.

Period One

  • Covaciu on single leg, Hall rolls through with a ridiculous scramble that ends with Hall on an ankle and a Hall TD!
  • Hall half-effort on a duck.
  • Hall shot on left leg, sprawl ended in stalemate & crowd applause.

Period Two

  • Hall chose down.
  • Hall stood, failed mat return then released.
  • Covaciu with heavy hands and hard ties.
  • Covaciu discarded his nose tape.
  • Hall shot, stall warn.
  • Hall on left knee, tripped, TD2.

Period Three

  • Blood time.
  • Casey coached Hall hard during.
  • Covaciu chose down.
  • Hall cut, but only with :59 RT.
  • Half-effort Hall double-leg shot.
  • Covaciu tried a headlock.
  • Hall shot, snap, go-behind TD3, quick cut.
  • Head inside left leg, TD4, quick cut.
  • Super duck for TD5 and ride out.

Nice! Really good to see him need that and get that. Mark Hall is now 81-4 in his remarkable Penn State career.

On The Mic

The Ernie Lucas Award winner, for outstanding wrestler in a road dual, Devin Schnupp, got on the mic with Jeff Byers afterwards.

Schnupp: just keep it simple, just another match, on the road. Not really doing anything different. Just wrestling out there.

On his confidence, and progress:

My confidence is always growing. It’s hard to see within yourself, yeah, but looking back at where I was last year and in High School, I’m definitely a lot better. So I try to keep that in perspective. Just know that if I put in the work every day, I’m gonna get results. So I just trust what my coaches tell me to do, and I do it...as best I can (chuckles) and then have confidence that that will propel me forward.

On outworking opponents in the third period. Byers: “is it a matter of applying that to the first two periods?”

Yeah, that’s definitely been a trending factor, and my coaches know that: that I’m generally stronger in the third period than my opponents, so just trying to play to my strengths with that. So, it could be maybe I’m not warmed up enough, or just not in it enough early. It’s really hard to say, but it’s definitely something we’re working on.

On upcoming Dual with Michigan in the BJC:

I’ve never been in there, competing. It’s gonna be awesome. Wrestling in Rec Hall is amazing, our fans are amazing. I just can’t wait to wrestle in the BJC, with the extra crowd and all the lights on the mat. It’s gonna be pretty fun.

The Takery

As a team, Penn State did pretty much what fans expected from this road trip. And judging from the *effort, what was probably expected of them from the coaches.

Schnupp is improving so quickly now that he’s beginning to challenge the long-held assumption that he won’t qualify for Nationals.

We’re all waiting with baited breath to see how RBY responds and returns from his nasty-looking knee injury and ensuing loss on Friday night. But for comparison’s sake, some Penn State fans in attendance at Purdue weighed in on the BSD open thread to report that RBY was walking around pretty normally during the hand-shake line, unlike Jason Nolf after the injury the similar knee injury he sustained against Rutgers at a similar point in the season last year.

You may recall that Jason Nolf recovered enough from that injury to win two matches at the conference tourney, before medically defaulting to 6th place. Then two weeks later, won 5 matches at Nationals for his second National Championship.

The timing of Bravo-Young’s injury is additionally unfortunate since we’ve hardly had a chance to watch what he is capable of versus the top guys at the weight, and this Friday, Michigan’s Stevan Micic comes to town.

Nick Lee appeared to put in work on his mat wrestling, getting out quickly from bottom and working harder for turns on top.

Verkleeren won two bouts stepping in for a resting Berge, and Nolf mat-wiped his overmatched opponents.

Cenzo looked fully-recovered from whatever he was banged up from, and Mark Hall continued to look impossible to score upon. He also managed to snap out of a brief non-Bonus funk (4 of the previous 5 matches were regular decisions) with a Major Decision.

Rasheed sounds like he is on his way back to full-strength and starter status, and Bo Nickal and Anthony Cassar each padded their Bonus Percentage stats.

Michigan and Ohio State are PSU’s next two opponents, and they just battled each other in a thrilling dual on Friday night, a Michigan victory 19-17:

2019 0125 Michigan 19; Ohio State 17 (score lifted from Intermat, sorry Myles “Max” Martin)

Michigan has really nice tests for RBY (if healthy enough), Nolf, Cenzo, Hall & Cassar. And Ohio State has some great ones for Nick Lee, Berge, Rasheed and Bo Nickal, finally.

The next two weeks are the biggest duals of the season. Can’t wait to watch it play out!