The last few weeks have been primers for the meat of the Penn State wrestling season. Next week is inarguably the biggest matchup of the year, but this week the Lions face a big test on the road as well, taking on a tough and ranked Husker squad that they haven’t lost to the last five outings.
Nebraska actually has more ranked wrestlers than Penn State, and most of the weights match up well. There’s quite a few on-paper toss-ups, so this could be much closer than anticipated (especially if the last time this team left the times zone is any indicator), but I prefer to look at last week’s dominating performance of Rutgers as more of a harbinger of where we’ll see the squad go once the final lineup is solidified.
Regardless, should be a fun one!
How To Watch
What: #3 Penn State* vs #8 Nebraska
Where: Devaney Center, Lincoln, NE
When: Friday, January 24, 7 pm
Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports
|#3 Penn State||WT||#8 Nebraska|
|#3 Penn State||WT||#8 Nebraska|
|Brandon Meredith (Fr., Limerick, PA)||125||Alex Thomsen (Fr., Neola, IA)|
|#3 - Roman Bravo-Young (So., Tucson, AZ)||133||#13 - Ridge Lovett (Fr., Post Falls, ID)|
|#2 - Nick Lee (Jr., Evansville, IN)||141||#8 - Chad Red (Jr., Indianapolis, IN)|
|Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA) OR Luke Gardner (Jr., Pottsville, PA)||149||#14 - Collin Purinton (Sr., Banks, OR)|
|#4 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Bo Pipher (Jr., Paonia, CO)||157||#11 - Peyton Robb (Fr., Owatonna, MN)|
|#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Sr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||#5 - Isaiah White (Sr., Chicago, IL)|
|#1 - Mark Hall (Sr., Apple Valley, MN)||174||#6 - Mikey Labriola (So., Easton, PA)|
|#6 - Aaron Brooks (Fr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||#8 - Taylor Venz (Jr., Farmington, MN)|
|#19 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY)||197||#8 - Eric Schultz (Jr., Tinley Park, IL)|
|Seth Nevills (Fr., Clovis, CA)||285||#15 - Christian Lance (Sr., Nixa, MO)|
Meredith has had a bit of a rough go in 2020 ever since he took over the starting spot, but he’ll get a bit of a reprieve from the plethora of ranked opponents this week. Thomsen is definitely not bad, but this will be Meredith’s only shot at a win in January. I think he gets it.
Prediction: Meredith by decision
Score: PSU 3, Nebraska 0
This would have been the third of five straight bouts against ranked competition for RBY, except for circumstances that kept him and Seabass off of the mat two weeks ago. This one likely will be low-scoring like last week, but won’t go into extra time this week. RBY’s victory is never really in doubt but doesn’t make it near bonus.
Prediction: RBY by decision
Score: PSU 6, Nebraska 0
Lee seems incredibly focused and ready this year, and he’s still got a few more weeks before his best competition of the season. Red is good competition, but Lee’s had his number since their high school days in Indiana. I think a late TD secures the bonus for him this week.
Prediction: Lee by major decision
Score: PSU 10, Nebraska 0
Verk has been very solid if not spectacular this year, despite still being listed as an OR with Gardner, who can be more explosive. Jury’s still out on who takes this spot in the conference tourney but Verk has the edge, and for some reason I feel he can pull off the upset in Lincoln.
Prediction: Verkleeren by decision
Score: PSU 13, Nebraska 0
Bo Pipher really should have won last week, and if the refs had decided to call obvious stalling, he would have finally gotten his first dual win of the year. It’s tough to take over at this weight after any wrestler as decorated as Jason Nolf, and it isn’t getting any easier.
Prediction: Rob by decision
Score: PSU 13, Nebraska 3
165 LBS - Match of the Meet #1
Cenzo’s never lost to White, but the matches have all been close - two of the three times they’ve met it’s gone to extra time. And while I still think Joseph is the definite favorite at this weight in every match the rest of his senior season, this should be closer than most other bouts. It’ll be a very good tune up for next week’s showdown with the Bull.
Prediction: Joseph by decision
Score: PSU 16, Nebraska 3
Hall seems to be wrestling more loosely this year, having more fun and feeling more carefree, which may come from not having the Zahid Valencia question being asked of him. Labriola is a good wrestler, but unlike the weight before, he won’t have a shot of defeating Mark. I expect it’ll take more than one takedown for the Husker grappler to come close to the win, with Marky just being far too much.
Prediction: Hall by decision
Score: PSU 19, Nebraska 3
184 LBS - Match of the Meet #2
No sooner had Jeff Byers stated last week that Rutgers’ Billy Janzer doesn’t give up any bonus to anyone not named Zahid than Aaron Brooks proved why we are all super excited to see him wrestler, logging the pin. And while wrestle state expects that Venz would get the win in the head to head of this one, I expect Brooks’s talent to win out and we’ll see why he’s been so highly touted.
Prediction: Brooks by decision
Score: PSU 22, Nebraska 3
Shak got the OR taken away from him this week, after a dominating decision over a wrestler ranked higher than him last outing. Shultz is a good wrestler and a Shak on his game can absolutely beat him, but I’m just not sure that the PSUer is all the way back yet.
Prediction: Schultz by decision
Score: PSU 22, Nebraska 6
There’s something so pure about watching a true heavyweight in a more traditional style take the mat - especially one as good at that style as Nevills is. While of course we’d all prefer Anthony Cassar be able to defend his title, at least this season there’s a more than capable backup waiting in the wings, and I’m excited to see what he can do.
Prediction: Nevills by decision
Score: PSU 25, Nebraska 6
*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Penn State is #2, and Nebraska is #7. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual meet.