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Wrestling Postview: Penn State Finishes Another Big Ten Schedule Unscathed

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In dominant wins over Ohio State & Nebraska, the Lions cemented themselves as the best Dual Meet team of the 2022 B1G—and National—season.

via Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors
Tony Rotundo

Finishing out its Big Ten conference schedule, Penn State hosted strong Top-10 foes in each of its two home arenas and defeated them both. The Lions dominated #6 Ohio State in the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday February 4, 32-7, and followed that up on Sunday February 6 by defeating #8 Nebraska 21-3, in Rec Hall. In so doing, Penn State extended its 3-year dual meet winning streak to 27.

Within a schedule uncharacteristically loaded up with eight first-semester non-conference dual meets, zero mid-season tourneys, and a revamped conference schedule with only eight conference duals, Penn State once again finished the Big Ten dual season undefeated. It was the sixth undefeated Big Ten season in the 13 years of the Cael Sanderson Penn State era.

Penn State dual stats in the Cael Sanderson Era

With one more dual remaining this season, at home in Rec Hall vs Rider on February 20, Sanderson’s Nittany Lions have posted an incredible 91% winning percentage in Dual Meets.

In 13 seasons, the only conference foes to have ever defeated Sanderson’s Lions are Iowa (5x; last in 2020)*, Minnesota (4x; last in 2015), and Ohio State (1x, 2015). Only four non-conference teams have ever done so: Oklahoma State (2x), Lehigh, Oklahoma U and Arizona State.

* I promise to have much more on Iowa, and Penn State’s 2022 win over them, next week.

Wrestling Postview: #1 Penn State 32, #6 Ohio State, 7

In the BJC, Penn State was led by three of its four National Champions, as Carter Starocci took some time out to heal up an injured wrist. They each secured Bonus Points, and the rest of the lineup chipped in to help win 8 of 10 bouts. They outscored the Buckeyes 58-33 and earned a relatively mild takedown differential, 18-8.

For more details and linked multimedia, please check out the excellent BSD Community Commentary in the Live Thread.

And for mat-side photos, please check out Heather Weikel’s gallery.

Wrestling Postview: #1 Penn State, 21, #8 Nebraska, 13

In the cozier confines of Rec Hall, the Lions out-bout-scored the Huskers by a wide 72-46 margin, but only secured W’s in 6 of the 10 bouts, two of which were Bonus variety. They won the takedown battle 26-9.

For more details and linked multimedia, please check out the excellent BSD Community Commentary in the Live Thread.

Thanks again, as always to pbp volunteer, @bubba0077, and to all who volunteer their time to share content on the BSD Wrestle pages.

The Takery

College Dual Meets are so great.

Among all of wrestling’s many styles, fans are also lucky that the sport facilitates such a variety of competition structures. The Dual Meet’s ten individual bouts create a lovely backdrop of Team Wrestling and present an easily-consumable, roughly two-hour product for both live attendees and screen audiences. And as we’ve learned anew this year, they also provide capacity for multiple substitutions.

In the Pandemic Age, this is critical.

19 different wrestlers suited up in the cummerbund singlet for PSU in Dual Meets this year, and only the first two duals of the season, way back in November, showcased the same lineup. In 160 dual meet bouts, Penn State forfeited only two: in December when Greg Kerkvliet was sick and Seth Nevills had not yet joined the wrestling team from his football season.

Against the two most powerhouse teams this year (Michigan & Iowa), the staff successfully fielded its strongest lineups of expected postseason stars, and gave the wider wrestling audience the top-tier matchups we all crave. No ducking accusations were hurled.

And against the next-tier programs, they adroitly provided selective opportunities for quote unquote backups (absolutely zero disrespect to any & all D1 grapplers) to join the lineups of stars, sufficient enough to secure W’s against the likes of tOSU, Nebby, Cornell, Sparky, Sparty, UNI & Lehigh.

In short, it’s been an absolutely beautiful Dual Meet season.

One more to go.