No. 1 Penn State dug itself into a 15-0 hole against No. 5 Lehigh Sunday afternoon but won six of the last seven bouts to clinch its 35th consecutive dual, 23-19. Penn State only scored bonus points in two matches in its closet dual win since January of 2015 against Michigan. Without two starters, the Nittany Lions passed their first real test of the season as it heads into the Big Ten schedule..
How It Happened
The entire dual was an uphill battle for Penn State. No. 5 Darian Cruz quickly pinned Devin Schnupp just over a minute into the 125 lb. bout. With No. 18 Corey Keener, who sat out the last two rounds of the Keystone Classic, still out of the lineup with an injury, redshirt sophomore Dominic Giannangeli filled in against No. 3 Scott Parker and was also pinned. Jered Cortez then dropped a close 2-0 decision to Luke Karam at 141 lbs. putting the Nittany Lions behind 15-0.
But just as the team did in the NWCA Finals against Oklahoma State when it trailed 14-0 after three bouts, Penn State cut into the deficit with big wins at 149 lbs. and 157 lbs. No. 1 Zain Retherford pinned Cortlandt Schuyler and No. 1 Jason Nolf routed Ian Brown with a tech fall win to make the team score 15-11 halfway through the dual.
After the intermission, redshirt freshman Bo Pipher made his dual debut, filling in for No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph who also sat out the Keystone Classic two weeks ago. In a tough dual against No. 15 Gordon Wolf, Pipher trailed 14-9 after two periods but ended up dropping a 24-12 major decision that extended the Mountain Hawks’ lead to 19-11. Trailing by eight, Penn State notched four straight decision wins by a total of nine points, starting with No. 2 Mark Hall’s 3-2 win over No. 5 Jordan Kutler. No. 1 Bo Nickal followed with a 3-2 win over No. 4 Ryan Preisch. No. 11 Anthony Cassar gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the day with an 8-3 win over Jake Jakobsen. With the Nittany Lions leading 20-19, No. 3 Nick Nevills closed out the dual with a 2-0 win No 14 Jordan Wood.
Wrestler of the Dual: Nick Nevills, HWT
With the Nittany Lions up by a point, Nevills’ clutch win, aided by a third period rideout, clinched the dual win as he continued to build on the big start to his junior season.
After the Nittany Lions’ two week break between the Keystone Classic and Sunday, Penn State will have another two weeks off before it hosts Indiana December 17 for the Big Ten opener, giving Joseph and Keener time to recover.