Penn State Wrestling Wins Big Ten Title
In Saturday afternoon’s action, Penn State sent nine wrestlers to Session Three action, landing six in the finals. The Nittany Lions came into the day looking to avenge their fifth place finish in the Big Ten last year with a win this year, and they came in with the team lead in overall points. The Nittany Lions claimed the overall Big Ten Championship, their fifth in six years, along with individual championships from Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal, and Morgan McIntosh.
How It Happened
Jordan Conaway wrestled Tim Lambert from Nebraska at 133 in hopes of getting to the third place match. He won a 6-4 decision to battle for third place later in the day. The next match in the session was another match with hopes of getting to the third place match for Matt McCutcheon at 184 as he took on Nick Gravina from Rutgers. Gravina won a 4-1 decision, relegating McCutcheon to the fifth place match. The final consolation match was the seventh place match at 165 for Geno Morelli as he took on Patrick Rhoads from Iowa. Morelli took Rhoads to overtime, but Rhoads won by sudden victory on his take down, ending Morelli’s tournament and likely his season.
The championship match at 125 was the first match for Penn State in the finals. Nico Megaludis and Nathan Tomasello squared off in this match. Megaludis and Tomasello went to a sudden victory overtime, and Tomasello won with a take down to secure the Big Ten Championship at 125 with a 3-1 victory. In the third place match at 133, Jordan Conaway faced Ryan Taylor in a rematch from earlier in the tournament. Conaway fell again to Taylor, this time by a 5-4 decision. In the championship at 141, Jimmy Gulibon fell to a lopsided 9-0 major to Anthony Ashnault from Rutgers.
In the championship at 149, Zain Retherford rode out Brandon Sorensen from Iowa to a 4-0 decision victory to clinch the Big Ten Championship for the Nittany Lions. In a rematch from a match earlier in the season, Jason Nolf and Isaiah Martinez went head to head at 157 for the championship. Nolf fell in the second tiebreaker with Martinez’s riding time advantage. At 174, Bo Nickal took on Zach Brunson from Illinois. Nickal dominated Brunson to an 18-9 major victory en route to his first Big Ten Championship.
McCutcheon wrestled in the fifth place match at 184 against Jeff Koepke from Illinois. McCutcheon defeated Koepke by a 3-1 decision with a late take down to clinch fifth place. In the championship match at 197, Morgan McIntosh defeated Nathan Burak from Iowa 3-2 to claim the Big Ten Championship at 197. At the end of the Championships, Penn State claimed the Big Ten title, three individual championships, and eight automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
Wrestler Of The Match
Jordan Conaway | Senior | 133-Pound Weight Class
Conaway took on a tough opponent in Eric Montoya from Nebraska, and Conaway’s win secured a spot in the third place match at 133. The win also helped build on the Nittany Lions’ team lead heading into the finals.
Bo Nickal | Redshirt Freshman | 174-Pound Weight Class
Bo Nickal was absolutely dominant in his match in the championship, earning him the wrestler of the match honors for the finals. His 18-9 major over Zach Brunson was one of the most dominating performances in a final.
The NCAA Championships are next for the Nittany Lions. They start on Thursday March 16 in New York City.