Our long Nittany Nation national nightmare is finally over!
After two years of taking a backseat, Penn State is officially your Big Ten Wrestling Tournament champion again.
The Nittany Lions placed six wrestlers in the finals and won four individual championships en route to a comfortable victory in the team race.
- Penn State 157.5
- Ohio State 122.5
- Iowa 107.5
- Minnesota 103.5
- Nebraska 93.5
How We Got There
Penn State led wire to wire in this one. The Nittany Lions led after Saturday morning’s first session and never looked back. They placed eight wrestlers into Saturday evening’s semifinals, six of which then qualified for the finals.
Of those six finalists, Jason Nolf, Mark Hall, Bo Nickal and Anthony Cassar took home titles, while Shakur Rasheed took a medical forfeit at 184 and Vincenzo Joseph fell to Iowa’s Alex Marinelli.
Weight by Weight
It was always going to be an uphill climb for Devin Schnupp to grab one of the nine NCAA allocations given to the Big Ten. Schnupp entered the tournament seeded 11th and fell to fifth-seed Travis Piotrowski of Illinois via tech fall in the opening round.
He then lost a pair of matches to Rutgers’ Shane Metzler on the backside to eliminate him from tournament contention.
If this is, as expected, the last we see of Schnupp as a starter, it’s safe to say he performed admirably when asked to step into a spot he could never imagine ending up in.
Roman Bravo-Young got a pretty rude introduction to what it’s like for a true freshman competing at the Big Ten Tournament, but he bounced back solidly.
In the opening round, RBY picked apart Nebraska’s Jevon Parish to the tune of a 17-5 major decision.
He then hit Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher in the quarterfinals in what was a rematch of an RBY tiebreaker victory in the dual.
This time it was Pletcher who came out on top with an 8-5 win. Bravo-Young took an early lead in the match, but in the second period with the score tied 2-2, Pletcher got in deep and finished a shot that took RBY directly to his back for 2+2.
While Bravo-Young’s athleticism is unquestionably elite, this may have been an incident where he was better served bellying out and living to fight another day.
Bravo-Young then took a 3-2 victory over Illinois’ Dylan Duncan to reach the consolation semifinals where Iowa’s Austin Desanto’s pressure and hand-fighting proved too much in 13-8 loss.
He then received a forfeit from Michigan’s Stevan Micic to take fifth.
Bravo-Young’s lack of ranked wins could be interesting come seeding time where he’s likely looking at something in the 10-12 range.
Nick Lee was the victim of an obvious seeding issue here.
Lee entered the tournament seeded second behind Illinois’ Mike Carr who faced neither Lee nor third-seeded Joey McKenna in the regular season.
Carr would up losing to eighth-seeded Chad Red in the quarterfinals and then again to Tristan Moran of Wisconsin on the backside.
Lee, meanwhile, topped Max Murin of Iowa 8-3 in the quarterfinals before falling to McKenna, 5-4 in the semifinals (de facto final).
McKenna then trounced Red 9-2 in the finals, while Lee topped Moran 11-2 and then Mitch McKee of Minnesota 12-4 to finish third.
The Nittany Lions sophomore will likely be seeded third or fourth when NCAA Tournament seeds are released on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Brady Berge had an interesting tournament for Penn State.
The redshirt freshman started strongly on Friday morning with a 12-3 major decision over Parker Filus or Purdue and then topped Iowa’s Pat Lugo 4-2 to reach the semifinals.
In the semis, Berge was picked apart a bit by Ohio State’s Micah Jordan in a 13-4 loss.
He then medically forfeit out of his matches on Saturday to take sixth, which could well hurt his seeding. There’s no word on if Berge was injured against Jordan or still dealing with issues that cost him a number of matches in January and February.
Berge’s wins over Lugo and Big 12 runner-up Jarrett Degen should help his seeding. His only losses are to No. 2 Jordan, No. 3 Mitch Finesilver and Wisconsin’s Cole Martin.
Look for Berge to end up seeded somewhere around 10th.
Ho-hum, just another dominant display by Jason Nolf.
Nolf pinned Illinois’ Eric Barone in the quarters before rolling past Michigan’s Alec Pantaleo 7-1 in the semifinals.
In the finals, Nolf once again beat up on Twitterless Tyler Berger of Nebraska to the tune of a 12-4 major decision.
Nolf will be your top seed at the NCAA Tournament.
Well, things when about as I expected for Vincenzo Joseph.
Joseph racked up 21 points in a tech fall victory over Joey Gunther of Illinois in the quarters. In the semis, he picked his spots well and built a 5-2 lead over Michigan’s Logan Massa before Massa went to his back and was pinned at 6:44 mark.
The finals, however, were a bit of an eye opener for Joseph.
Iowa’s Alex Marinelli controlled the tied, got to legs often and reversed Joseph’s inside trip on the way to a fairly dominant 9-3 to win.
In the preview posted earlier this week, I said I thought Marinelli would win here and Joseph would win at the NCAA Tournament. I’m sticking with that pick, but the B1G final made me a little more uneasy about it.
Joseph will be the two seed at NCAAs and Marinelli will get the one.
Mark Hall continues to look unbothered while seemingly narrowly escape defeat.
In the quarterfinals, Hall pinned Michigan State’s Drew Hughes at the 2:34 mark.
The semis were a bit tighter as Hall battled Minnesota’s Devin Skatzka (who might I add looked fantastic on his way to placing third) and picked up a 4-2 decision win to reach the finals.
Hall saw a familiar foe in the finals in Michigan’s Myles Amine. He came out on top in a scramble situation for a takedown in the first and then made that hold up, fighting off a late takedown attempt from Amine to win 3-2.
Hall will be your top seed at the NCAA Tournament, while Amine should be the four.
Shakur Rasheed was back in action for only his third match since injuring his knee in late January.
The senior looked as good as ever in Minneapolis, despite the injury.
In the quarterfinals, he used his patented cradle to pin Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey at the 5:21 mark.
He picked up his best win of the year, and some would say of his career, with a 6-5 victory over Nebraska’s Taylor Venz in the semifinals.
Rasheed was set to square off with No. 1 Myles Martin of Ohio State in the finals but the coaches opted to have him medically forfeit instead, a decision that was not received well by the wrestling community at large.
Seeding for Rasheed is an interesting case.
Martin will clearly be the one, but Rasheed may well be the two. He lacks quality wins due to his limited schedule, but all the other 184-pound wrestlers have at least three losses. Rasheed, meanwhile, is undefeated on the year as medical forfeit’s do not count against your record.
If I had to guess, I’d say he gets the two seed, but he could well be the three behind Virginia Tech’s Zack Zavatsky.
It was the Bo Show once again at 197.
Bo Nickal put together a 19-4 tech fall over Michigan State’s Brad Wilton in the quarterfinals. He then easily dispatched of Nebraska’s Eric Schultz with a 10-2 major decision in the semis.
The finals saw him match up yet against with Ohio State’s Kollin Moore. Moore did well to stay off his back but offered no real threat as Nickal came away with a 10-3 victory.
Nickal will be the top seed in Pittsburgh, while Moore will likely be the two.
This bracket was incredibly deep, but featured only two real challengers for the top spot.
Anthony Cassar put up a 12-4 major decision over Jacob Aven of Purdue in the opening round. He then won 8-2 over David Jensen of Nebraska in the quarters and steamrolled Conan Jennings with a 10-1 major decision in the semifinals.
Opposite Cassar, Minnesota’s freshman phenom Gable Steveson rolled past Rutgers Christian Colucci with a 21-6 tech fall in the first round. He then hit Iowa’s Sam Stoll and picked up a 5-3 win in the quarters. Steveson advanced to the finals with a 10-4 win over Wisconsin’s Trent Hilger.
The finals match was a what you’d expect from heavyweights in the first two period as the two felt each other out.
The third period, however, was great.
Mid-way through the third, Steveson his a pass by and a hard mat return to take a 2-0 lead. Cassar quickly got up and out to make it 2-1. With just over 30 seconds remaining, Cassar shot in for a power double, switched off to a single and dropped Steveson to his rear to take a 3-2 lead.
From that point on, Cassar was able to ride out the period and came away with the 3-2 victory.
This throws a massive wrench into the seeding in Pittsburgh. Cassar now holds a win over Steveson. Steveson holds an early season win over Big 12 champion Derek White and White has a victory over Cassar at the Southern Scuffle.
Steveson losing his conference championship makes it impossible for him to get the top seed. Therefore, either White will get the nod over Cassar OR Cassar and Steveson will be 1-2 with White third.
Given that White now holds wins over the Big Ten champion (Cassar), the EIWA champion (Jordan Wood) and the ACC champion (Demetrius Thomas), I’d expect him to get the top seed.