After nearly two full seasons on top of the college wrestling world without any viable competition, the Penn State wrestling team came back down to Earth on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions placed second in the Big Ten Championships with 130 points points, 9.5 behind Ohio State. This result coming off a 14-0 regular season, 9-0 record in conference duals, and a 26-13 win over Oklahoma State, which was presumed to be the best suited challenger for Cael Sanderson’s team.
— Onward State (@OnwardState) March 5, 2017
In the teams’ regular season dual, the Nittany Lions had beaten the Buckeyes 32-12.
Eight Nittany Lions placed and clinched NCAA Championships berths. Nick Suriano, who defealted with his ankle injury from the NWCA Duals, will likely also receive an at-large spot in St. Louis to bring Penn State’s count to nine at the national championships.
Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf cruised to Big Ten titles in their weight classes. At 149, Retherford pinned three on the way to the finals, where he defeated Ohio State’s Micah Jordan via technical fall. Nolf grabbed his first conference title with an 8-2 decision over Iowa’s Michael Kemerer.
Previously undefeated Bo Nickal’s loss in the 184 semifinals to the Buckeyes’ Myles Martin, who he is 4-2 against during his career but had fell to in the NCAA Championships last season played a major role in Penn State’s unexpected second place finish. After not being taken down all season, in that match, Nickal was taken twice. Nickal ended up placing third.
In addition to Nickal’s loss hurting the Nittany Lions, they were also a man down with Nick Suriano, who was seeded second at 125 lbs., taking injury defaults in his two matches. He started his first match before forfeiting one second into it so he will still be eligible for the NCAA Championships if he heals by then.
The Nittany Lions were in a hole after the first two sessions, but managed to come within a half-point of the Buckeyes before Mark Hall’s final with Ohio State’s Bo Jordan at 174. Hall led early, but Jordan came back to win in overtime on a takedown, which basically sealed the team title for the Buckeyes.
Penn State has now only won one of the last three tournaments after winning four-straight conference titles from 2011-14. The Nittany Lions will return to action in two weeks on March 16 to start the NCAA Championships in St. Louis when they will try to bounce back and defend their national title.