In the final dual of the regular season, No. 1 Penn State (13-0) captured the Big Ten Regular Season Championship for the second year in a row on the heels of one of the team’s most notable dual performances of the season in a 45-6 win over Maryland (2-14). The win included a remarkable streak of five pins, where an 8-6 deficit ballooned to a 38-6 deficit.
How It Happened
Yet again, No. 2 Nick Suriano (16-1), one of the hottest wrestlers in the nation, got the ball rolling for the Nittany Lions. He beat Michael Beck (5-12) with a 23-8 technical fall to open the dual in what may have been his most efficient and impressive match of the season. Since losing to No. 1 Thomas Gilman on January 20, Suriano is 5-0 with a 15-4 major, a pin, and now three straight technical falls.
With Triston Law (0-2) wrestling at 133 lbs. instead of George Carpenter (1-10), the Nittany Lions’ struggles there continued. Senior Billy Rappo (12-10) reversed and pinned Law in the second period to put the Terrapins up 6-5.
That fall was the only bout that former Penn State legend Kerry McCoy’s team would win all afternoon.
In spite of Penn State’s issues at 133 lbs., No. 11 Jimmy Gulibon (13-6), the only senior in the lineup, has been a strong, reassuring force for the Nittany Lions, winning his last six matches. The four-year starter put Penn State back on top with a 9-4 decision over Ryan Diehl (3-2) putting an exclamation point on his Rec Hall career and jumpstarting a streak of eight consecutive wins.
At 149 lbs., No. 1 Zain Retherford (18-0) recorded his thirteenth pin of the season by picking up an early second period fall over Adam Whitesell (21-14). The second half of the most exciting one-two punch in the nation, No. 1 Jason Nolf (18-0), kept his end of the bargain with a first-period pin over Justin Alexander (6-6), which opened up the team score to 20-6 at the intermission.
That momentum continued through the intermission with the Nittany Lions rattling off another three consecutive pins. At 165 lbs., No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (14-2) pinned Patrick Gerish (10-12) followed by another fall from No. 7 Mark Hall (23-2) over Josh Ugalde (6-10) in his second Rec Hall bout. After Idris White (5-17) managed to stay on his feet against No. 1 Bo Nickal (17-0) for the first minute of the bout, Nickal took over putting up three straight takedowns and then pinning him with an effortless throw to mat from the neutral position.
The streak stopped at five with No. 9 Matt McCutcheon (13-3) beating David-Brian Whisler (14-10) 4-3 off of a late takedown in the 197 lbs. bout. No. 3 Nick Nevills ended the afternoon with a dominant 9-1 major decision over Youssif Hemida (15-9).
Wrestler(s) of the Dual
Zain Retherford/Jason Nolf/Vincenzo Joseph/Mark Hall/Bo Nickal
The streak of falls that these five put together propelled the Nittany Lions to the win. Each wrestler used his own unique style of wrestling as a means to same end and watching this display exemplified the true strengths of this Penn State team: its middleweights and ability to take over and dominate.
Penn State’s next dual will be on Sunday February 19 in the NWCA Bowl Series. Although the official dual pairings have yet to be announced, the expected and highly anticipated opponent is No. 2 Oklahoma State (13-0).