Wrestling returned to Rec Hall Thursday night when Penn State (1-0) overpowered Army (0-1) 45-3, behind plenty of familiar faces up to their usual tricks and a few new ones making names for themselves in front of the sellout crowd. After the Nittany Lions dropped the first bout and fell behind 3-0, they notched nine consecutive wins on the backs of five pins and seven bonus point wins.
How It Happened
Troy Chalifoux dec. Devin Schnupp (6-4)
The biggest question facing Penn State entering this season was who would replace Nick Suriano at 125 lbs. Chalifoux kept Schnupp in check for most of the bout, winning 6-4. The freshman did show a good amount of resolve for his collegiate debut, scoring a late takedown to make things interesting and getting the Rec Hall crowd on its feet for the first time this season.
An escape by Chalifoux however sealed the bout and gave Army a 3-0 lead to begin the dual, a lead that would quickly disappear.
No. 13 Corey Keener pin Lane Peters (2:50)
The former three-time All-American at Central Michigan showed he’ll fit in well at Penn State, both on a team of bonus point scorers and flashy move-craftsmen. He pinned Peters midway through the second period with a headlock for the Nittany Lions’ first fall of the season.
Jered Cortez dec. Austin Harry (12-6)
Cortez picked up right where he left off at the beginning of last season before a shoulder injury in December sidelined him for the rest of the season. After controlling Harry for the first two periods and taking a 6-4 lead, Cortez opened the deficit up with a big third period to win 12-6.
No.1 Zain Retherford TF Knox Fuller (17-1, 4:13)
Retherford kicked off this season the same way he began last year: tech falling Army’s 149-pounder. After toying with Fuller through the first period and wracking up ten back points, nearly pinning him multiple times, Retherford ended the match with a takedown midway through the second period.
No. 1 Jason Nolf pin Lucas Weiland (1:07)
Nolf widened the gap between the two teams even more by one-upping Retherford, pinning Weiland just over a minute into the bout to extend Penn State’s lead to 20-3 at the intermission.
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph maj. Joseph Andrew Mendel (17-7)
After Mendel took him down to begin the match, Joseph responded forcefully, with seven takedowns of his own. He stretched the lead to 17-7 with a riding time point for a major decision that put Penn State ahead 24-3.
No. 2 Mark Hall pin No. 19 Ben Harvey (4:09)
The sophomore wasted no time scoring points Thursday, aggressively taking a 6-3 lead off three first period takedowns. Hall ran the score up to 11-3 with an escape and two more takedowns before putting Harvey on his back at this most special time.
No. 1 Bo Nickal pin Noah Stewart (:26)
Action shot of Nickal's pin pic.twitter.com/spt36qxOx6
— Onward Sports (@OnwardStSports) November 10, 2017
Need we say more?
Anthony Cassar dec. Rocco Caywood (10-3)
The new 197-pounder who beat out senior and three-year starter Matt McCutcheon took an early 2-1 lead after the first period and ran away with the match, eventually winning 10-3. He will have his first test Sunday against No. 14 Tom Sleigh of Bucknell following his strong debut.
No. 3 Nick Nevills pin Bobby Heald (6:10)
Nevills capped off the team’s impressive season opener with a pin over Heald, a nice first step towards his goal of being a leader in bonus points this season. In an abnormally high-scoring heavyweight matchup, Nevills took Heald down five times and reversed him and led 13-9 before pinning him.
Wrestler of the Dual: Corey Keener
What a first impression to make. Keener’s pin started the Nittany Lions’ streak of nine straight wins and was the first of their five pins. We can say with confidence that Penn State is no longer weak at 133 lbs.
Penn State hosts Bucknell Sunday at 2 p.m. for its final home dual of the semester.