With Penn State down two wrestlers at the NCAA Championships after not qualifying anyone at 133 and No. 3 Nick Suriano withdrawing from the 125 bracket due to his ankle injury, the Nittany Lions needed to have dominant performances from the eight in the lineup.
That’s exactly what Cael Sanderson’s squad managed during the first two sessions — going 15-1 with a number of bonus points registered. Penn State is the top team in the standings following Thursday’s action with more than a four-point lead over main competition Ohio State and Oklahoma State after sending seven wrestlers to the quarterfinals.
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 17, 2017
How It Happened
141 — Jimmy Gulibon
Gulibon was the first Nittany Lion to get going, and he set the tone for the day in his opening round matchup at 141. It was a rematch with Michigan State’s Javier Gasca — who upset the Penn State senior at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Gulibon avenged the loss in emphatic fashion with a tech fall victory in the third period.
He couldn’t follow up the impressive result, however, and fell to No. 4 Matt Kolodzik of Princeton in a 6-3 decision for Penn State’s only loss of the day. Gulibon will return tomorrow morning in the consolation bracket.
149 — Zain Retherford
It didn’t take much time on the mat for No. 1 Retherford to advance back to the quarterfinals. The defending national champion continued his bonus point hot streak from the Big Ten Championships with back-to-back tech falls against Arizona State’s Josh Maruca and Princeton’s Jordan Laster. He meets South Dakota State’s Alex Kocer next.
A huge side note at 149 is No. 2 Anthony Collica — the biggest competitor for Retherford who gave him a battle at the NWCA Duals — got upset by No. 15 Ken Theobald of Rutgers.
157 — Jason Nolf
No. 1 Nolf also doubled up on the tech falls to get to the quarterfinals. One of the nation’s best in securing bonus points, the Big Ten Champion easily handled NC State’s Thomas Bullard and Bucknell’s Victor Lopez to earn a matchup with unseeded Bryant Clagon of Rider on Friday afternoon.
165 — Vincenzo Joseph
No. 3 Joseph grinded out a 5-1 decision after a slow first period over Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck. He followed that up with an impressive victory via a 12-4 major over Wyoming’s Branson Ashworth to earn the Nittany Lions more bonus points. The redshirt freshman will face No. 6 Daniel Lewis of Missouri in the quarterfinals.
174 — Mark Hall
Freshmen continued to make huge statements for Penn State as No. 5 Hall had a pair of impressive performances to advance to the quarterfinals. After earning an 8-2 decision over South Dakota State’s David Kocer in the opener, Hall won via tech fall over Jadeen Bernstein.
In perhaps the matchup of the third session for Penn State, Hall will meet No. 4 Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech.
184 — Bo Nickal
No. 2 Nickal had no issues advancing to the quarterfinals for the second-straight year. After winning by tech fall over Northwestern’s Mitch Sliga, the Penn State sophomore one-upped that with a pin against Binghamton’s Steven Schneider. Nickal will get No. 7 TJ Dudley of Nebraska in the next round.
In another helpful upset for the Nittany Lions, Ohio State’s six seed at 184, Myles Martin, lost to Illinois’ Emery Parker. Bad news for Nickal: he won’t have a chance to avenge his losses to Martin from this year’s Big Ten Championships and last year’s NCAA final. Good news: there isn’t a wrestler left in the field that has defeated Nickal in his career.
197 — Matt McCutcheon
No. 5 McCutcheon got the first pin of the weekend for Penn State as he took down Purdue’s Christian Brunner. He followed that up with a battle against No. 12 Frank Mattiace of Penn on Thursday night, which ended in favor of McCutcheon by a 6-3 decision. No. 4 Jared Haught is up next for the Penn State junior Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals.
285 — Nick Nevills
Nevills is heading to quarterfinal action on Friday after two decision wins over Lehigh’s Doug Vollaro and Edinboro’s William Miller, by 4-2 and 6-2 scorelines, respectively. If the Penn State sophomore can defeat Duke four-seed Jacob Kasper, he’d likely meet Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder of Ohio State in the semifinals on Friday night.
Wrestler Of Day One
Bo Nickal | 184-Pound Weight Class | Sophomore
Nickal still has a tough road ahead with Iowa’s Sammy Brooks and Cornell’s Gabe Dean standing in this Nittany Lion’s way of a first individual national title, but he got off to an impressive start with a pair of bonus-point victories in the first two sessions.
Session three begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. Seven of the eight Nittany Lions advanced to quarterfinal action and Gulibon will also be on the mat for the consolation rounds. The semifinals will be during session four Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.