By the looks of the lopsided score, you might think the match was a breeze for the Lions. Up until the 165/174 bouts, the outcome was still in the air.
The dual kicked off at 125. Penn State freshman No. 2 Nick Suriano was expected to beat No. 11 Nick Piccininni and the Lions hoped he could get a few bonus points. The first period ended 2-1 and Suriano was down to start the second. He scrambled and notched an escape to take a 3-1 lead, but immediately hopped out of bounds pointing to his ankle. It looked like Suriano was saying he rolled it during the escape. The trainers tried to tape him up, but when the clock started, coach Cael Sanderson watched Suriano attempting to wrestle on one foot and stopped the match.
Penn State took the injury default loss and started from a 6-0 deficit. Next up, no one expected sophomore George Carpenter to upset No. 3 Kaid Brock. In fact, Brock was expected to get some key bonus points for the Cowboys in this matchup. Carpenter was able to hold the damage to a major decision and kept the Lions’ hunt alive.
Next up, senior No. 10 Jimmy Gulibon faced undefeated No. 1 Dean Heil at 141. Heil connected on a single in the first and scored the first takedown. Gulibon escaped and headed into the second trailing 2-1. Heil clinched the riding time and Gulibon escaped again to tie it up 2-2. Then things got interesting. Gulibon connected on a high single and turned it into a scramble. He nearly pinned Heil twice, but no call from the refs. Heil kept a crotch hold to keep Gulibon from the takedown and action moved to the third. Heil chose down to start the third and Gulibon killed his riding time. Another scramble and Gulibon almost got the pin again- announcers on GoPSUSports and FloWrestling’s both falsely calling for a pin, but the ref never signaled. After a reset, Gulibon cut Heil loose and he took the 3-2 lead. Once again, Gulibon went for the pin, but once again, no call.
Down in the team score 13-0, the Lions looked to the middle of their lineup to get things started. No. 1 Retherford did just that with a close win, including a few controversial stalling calls, over No. 2 Anthony Collica. No. 1 Jason Nolf followed with a tech fall to close the gap even more before the half–13-8 Cowboys.
No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph kept the momentum going with bonus points and notched a major decision over No. 6 Joe Smith at 165. The much-anticipated rematch of No. 7 Mark Hall and No. 9 Kyle Crutchmer was a bit disappointing. Not much action until Hall won it, 3-2, with a late takedown in the third.
At this point it was 15-13 in favor of Penn State. This next match was crucial for a Penn State victory. No. 2 Bo Nickal faced No. 4 Nolan Boyd at 184. The Lions’ needed was a decision. Looked like Boyd didn’t learn much from watching Nickal’s matchup with No. 5 Sammy Brooks from Iowa. Boyd shot straight off the whistle and Nickal wouldn’t stand for that. He countered the shot, locked the cradle and worked Boyd’s shoulders flat. Thirty-eight seconds and six more points for Penn State.
At 21-13, Penn State with two matches to go, one of which Penn State was favored to win, that was about it. No. 9 Matt McCutcheon upset No. 8 Preston Weigel, 4-3, at 197 and then it was really over. No. 3 heavyweight Nick Nevills put the icing on the cake with one last victory to put up that lop-sided 27-13 win for Penn State.
The Lions end their season with a spotless 14-0 record, 9-0 in the Big Ten.
Now it’s time for the Big Ten Championships. March 4-5 the Nittany Lions will work to bring home their sixth Big Ten title in the last seven years. This year Big Tens will be held in Bloomington, Ind. and the first session starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 4.
BOUT BY BOUT:
125: OKST #11 Nick Piccininni inj. def. PSU #2 Nick Suriano, inj. def. (3:34)
133: OKST #3 Kaid Brock maj. dec. PSU George Carpenter, 17-6
141: OKST #1 Dean Heil dec. PSU #10 Jimmy Gulibon, 3-2
149: PSU #1 Zain Retherford dec. OKST #2 Anthony Collica, 2-1
157: PSU #1 Jason Nolf tech fall OKST #6 Joe Smith, 24-9 (TF; 7:00)
165: PSU #4 Vincenzo Joseph maj. dec. OKST #8 Chandler Rogers, 12-4
174: PSU #7 Mark Hall dec. OKST #9 Kyle Crutchmer, 3-2
184: PSU #2 Bo Nickal pinned OKST #4 Nolan Boyd, WBF (0:38)
197: PSU #9 Matt McCutcheon dec. OKST #8 Preston Weigel, 4-3
285: PSU #3 Nick Nevills dec. OKST Derek White, 10-5