These last two weekends of Penn State wrestling duals is nothing if not bittersweet.
Sweet, of course, because we have three more duals to watch two of the program’s best ever wrestlers compete; bitter because it’s only three more, and it doesn’t bring the best calibre of competition for the PSU fans to watch, and the PSU wrestlers to challenge themselves before the post season tournaments.
It feels like the wrestling season just begun, doesn’t it? And with nine starters at Penn State with a combined six losses halfway through February, it also feels like the team simply hasn’t been challenged too much. But is that feeling I’m having reality, or has it just simply not sank in that this team is one of the best, top to bottom, of all time? That we, as PSU wrestling fans, are some of the luckiest fans in the history of sport to root for these men?
The fact of the matter is, the way Cael Sanderson recruits and coaches, we may be having another conversation a few years down the road on the definition of “Greatest Penn State wrestling lineup of all time”. But holy hell, if I don’t feel incredibly blessed to be able to preview their matches, and to root for them this year.
Onto Michigan State, who’s in a stacked Big Ten but does feature a lineup with some talented ranked wrestlers.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs Michigan State
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Friday, February 15, 7 pm
Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: BTN+/FloWrestling (subscription only)
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||Michigan State|
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||Michigan State|
|Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA)||125||#7 - Rayvon Foley (So., Ann Arbor, MI)|
|#11 - Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Anthony Tutolo (Sr., Mentor, OH)|
|#2 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN)||141||Austin Eicher (Sr., Fenton, MI)|
|#11 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA)||149||Jaden Enriquez (Fr., Tulare, CA)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA)||157||Jake Tucker (So., Lowell, IN)|
|#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||Logan Ritchie (Jr., New Boston, MI)|
|#1 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN)||174||Drew Hughes (So., Lowell, IN)|
|#2 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY)||184||#15 - Cameron Caffey (Fr., Carbondale, IL)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX)||197||Brad Wilton (Fr., Mason, MI)|
|#3 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA)||285||Chase Beard (Fr., Allegan, MI)|
Rayvon Foley is difficult not to root for; every time 125s were up last year at the NCAAs, he was one of the few non-PSUers I vocally cheered for (Kyle Conel being another, naturally). He’s also one of the few highly ranked wrestlers at this weight this year who didn’t duck SeaBass (here’s looking at you, Lee), and he paid for it by being majored. Foley is very good (while not a Lee or Rivera, he’s improved vastly in his sophomore season) and he’ll kick the dual off well for the Spartans.
Prediction: Foley by major decision
Score: PSU 0, MSU 4
I still don’t know whether RBY’s lack of visible offense last week was because he was still not 100% on his knee or because he was wrestling the style that Luke Pletcher does in order to counter him - but I’m not sure I care. I expect he’ll show a totally different style this week, but I hope he doesn’t try any cartwheels again.
Prediction: RBY by major decision
Score: PSU 4, MSU 4
Lee looked really good last week, taking advantage (or causing?) McKenna’s late fade, and unlike the year before, was able to get the late takedown and rideout to win. The result shot Lee up the polls and a showdown with the top dog in the conference is later this weekend - but this’ll provide a good warmup.
Prediction: Lee by major decision
Score: PSU 8, MSU 4
I don’t know what’s up with Berge, but Verkleeren was absolutely screwed by the refs last week against #3 Micah Jordan - he was on his way to getting the upset. It’s not a surprise that Verk’s good (and he fits this weight much better than Brady), but as a true freshman it’s exciting to think about what’s coming. I’m taking the safe road by expecting Jarod to wrestle - but the dangerous one by predicting bonus.
Prediction: Verk by major decision
Score: PSU 12, MSU 4
The only bad part about Bo pinning Moore is that Nolf’s chances at the Hodge just diminished. It’ll be fun to see him trying to get back in that game - and he pinned Tucker two times last season, and three time’s the charm.
Prediction: Nolf by pin
Score: PSU 18, MSU 4
Ritchie racked up wins outside the conference but hasn’t gotten a victory in a Big Ten dual this year - and he’s not going to start on Friday. Keep on doubting Cenzo and underestimating him (#3 in the conference?). I dare you.
Prediction: Joseph by pin
Score: PSU 24, MSU 4
Hughes is a good wrestler, and he may make the tourney. On paper, Hall wins this by multiple bonus - but he used so much energy last week that I think he’ll win easily, but not by bonus - with the only points against him escapes.
Prediction: Hall by decision
Score: PSU 27, MSU 4
Hopefully Shak is back this week; it almost doesn’t matter, though, considering the last three matches on his slate before the tourney don’t do much for his resume. He’s #2 on many rankings solely due to being undefeated; it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s seeded lower in either of the final tourneys. He has the ability to wrestle into Saturday night - and I’m not sure that’s even a question - but he needs to get his confidence back up.
Prediction: Shak by decision
Score: PSU 30, MSU 4
If Bo can cradle Kollin Moore in the first period, he can pin anyone in this very weak weight class.
Prediction: Bo by pin
Score: PSU 36, MSU 4
Bring back the flash tattoos!
Anthony is gonna wreck this field, with Steveson looming in Minneapolis.
Prediction: Cassar by major decision