Penn State wrestling fans received some long-awaited and long-feared news from head coach Cael Sanderson on Tuesday.
Speaking to the assembled media during his regularly scheduled media availability at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, Sanderson announced that seniors Anthony Cassar and Kyle Conel will both miss the rest of the season due to injury.
Cassar, a defending national champion, suffered a should injury in late December in the semifinals of the US Open in Texas. He was attempting to qualify for April’s 2020 Olympic Trials in State College and, according to Sanderson, if hoping to rehab and be able to wrestle in March’s last chance qualifier at Millersville University (PA).
Cassar had previously suffered a pair of shoulder injuries that cost him two years of competition. He was granted a year back by the NCAA which made him eligible to compete this season before being injured again.
Conel, meanwhile, joined the Nittany Lions this year after transferring from Kent State University where he placed third in the country in 2018. Despite a magical run at the 2018 tournament in Cleveland, Conel has struggled with shoulder injuries as well and missed the entirety of the 2018-19 season before having surgery.
So what does that mean for the lineup?
It was also announced that Shakur Rasheed, who himself is returning from injury, will slot into the lineup at 197 pounds where he was an All-American in 2018, taking seventh. Rasheed bumps up from 184 pounds which is now filled by true freshman Aaron Brooks.
As for heavyweight, that spot goes to true freshman Seth Nevills. Nevills, the younger brother of Penn State All-American Nick Nevills, was a top-10 recruit nationally in 2018 and spent a year greyshirting in 2018-19. He went 16-1 in competition last season with the lone loss coming to Pitt’s Demetrius Thomas. Before coming out of redshirt, he’s gone 6-0 this year with three falls, a tech fall and two decision victories.
In the meantime, transfer Dan Greg Kerkvliet will continue to redshirt and focus on his Olympic aspirations.