On a weekend that many Penn Staters spent traveling back to campus, the Nittany Lion wrestling team also was on the road when it kicked off its Big Ten schedule in the heart of the Midwest against two other highly ranked conference powers. During the road trip, No. 3 Penn State took down both No. 9 Minnesota and No. 7 Nebraska in very convincing fashions in its first dual meets of 2017.
After a 26-day hiatus, the Lions got back on the mat on Friday night against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis with an effortless 33-6 dual win. No. 1 Zain Retherford, No. 1 Jason Nolf, and No. 2 Bo Nickal each had a pin to lead the way for Penn State, which won the dual’s first five matches to open up a commanding 24-0 lead at the break. Both of the team’s losses were each decided by one point with No. 11 Matt McCutcheon falling to No. 2 Brett Pfarr 3-2 and No. 16 Mitch McKee downing George Carpenter 2-1.
Prior to Friday, Penn State had not beaten the Gophers in a dual since 1998 when head coach Cael Sanderson was redshirting at his alma mater Iowa State.
Less than 48 hours after dismantling Minnesota, the Nittany Lions returned to action in Lincoln.
After No. 3 Nick Suriano’s 3-2 decision over No. 5 Tim Lambert to open the match, Penn State dug itself into a bit of a hole after losing its next two bouts, one via tech fall. Retherford though rattled off the first of five straight Lion wins by majoring Collin Purinton.
In a dual featuring six ranked vs. ranked matchups, two of the biggest statement wins came from Nickal and No. 5 Nick Nevills. Nickal clinched the win for the Lions by majoring No. 3 TJ Dudley, his highest ranked opponent of the season, pretty compellingly. At 285, Nevills ended the dual by pinning No. 15 Collin Jensen in the third period.
Because of the Bryce Jordan Center Dual, the month off, and the road trip, Penn State has not wrestled in Rec Hall since November, but it will return there on Friday, Jan. 13 to face another ranked conference foe, No. 13 Rutgers.