For the first time since December and just the second time this season, the No. 2 Penn State wrestling team faced an unranked opponent when it met Northwestern at Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon. After a tough slate of opponents to kick off the conference schedule, the Nittany Lions (10-0) cruised their way to their 27th consecutive dual win and 12th straight win over the Wildcats (6-6) via a 45-3 decision.
How It Happened
With the dual beginning at 125 lbs, true freshman No. 3 Nick Suriano (13-1) jumpstarted the afternoon for the Nittany Lions by pinning Anthony Rubinetti (9-11) 10 seconds into the second period. After redshirt freshman Triston Law (0-1) made his debut on Friday night at 133 lbs, George Carpenter (1-9) returned to the lineup on Sunday. Carpenter suffered his fifth straight loss as Jason Ipsarides (10-8) beat him by way of a 4-3 decision. Penn State has won only three bouts at 133 lbs this season, as the loss of Jered Cortez in early December has proven to be the cause of the only weak part of this loaded Nittany Lions lineup.
Leading just 6-3 after two matches, Penn State never looked back after Carpenter’s loss. The Nittany Lions won the last eight bouts, six of which were by bonus points. The 149 lb and 174 lb bouts were both forfeits by the Wildcats so No. 1 Zain Retherford (15-0) and No. 7 Mark Hall (20-2) each tacked on six points for the Nittany Lions without even wrestling.
At 141 lbs, No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon (10-6) beat Alec McKenna (7-12) with a 20-5 technical fall. After the forfeit to Retherford, No. 1 Jason Nolf (15-0) added his own six points to the team total, but instead by pinning Northwestern’s Ben Sullivan (4-14). Senior Caleb Livingston (2-2), who had wrestled in only one dual match in his career entering Sunday, got the start over No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (12-2) at 165 lbs and took full advantage of the opportunity, pinning Anthony Petrone. The only matchup featuring two ranked wrestlers came at 184 lbs between No. 2 Bo Nickal (14-0) and No. 20 Mitch Sliga (15-6), Northwestern’s lone ranked grappler. Sliga did better than most of Nickal’s recent opponents, the last three of whom have been pinned, but still fell in a 10-1 major decision.
No. 10 Matt McCutcheon (12-2) followed with a 10-3 decision over Jacob Berkowitz (19-7) at 197 lbs before the dual concluded at 285 lbs between No. 4 Nick Nevills (13-1) and Northwestern’s Conan Jennings (15-8). Although Nevills came away with a 5-4 win, the tough weekend continued for him. After losing his first match of the season Friday night, Nevills almost dropped another one on Sunday by allowing a late takedown to tie the match score. A pivotal riding point earned from a second period rideout however pushed him to the win.
Wrestler of the Dual
Caleb Livingston | Senior | 165 lbs
In front of a season-high Rec Hall crowd of 6,630 fans, Caleb Livingston notched his first dual win of the season in dramatic fashion with the pin. After the dual, he was honored with the Ridge Riley Award.
The Nittany Lions will return to the brunt of the harsh Big Ten schedule on Friday night when they visit No. 4 Ohio State.