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Penn State Wrestling Reshuffles Lineup, Bo Nickal Moves Up To 197 lbs

The beginning of wrestling season is still more than two months away, but Penn State is already gearing up for its eighth title in nine years by switching its lineup around a bit.

Cael Sanderson is flip-flopping two-time national champion Bo Nickal and seventh-place finisher Shakur Rasheed at 184 and 197 lbs., according to the team’s roster for the 2018-19 season. Anthony Cassar will also wrestle at a different weight, making the jump from 197 lbs. up to heavyweight.

Nickal competed at 174 lbs. as a freshman before moving to 184 lbs. for the last two seasons, both of which ended in national titles — including this one that we’re still talking about more than five months later.

Rasheed has bounced around throughout his college career, moving from 165 to 174 to 197, where he evolved into a pinning machine and seemed to find a home this season. 

“This is the best shape I’ve ever been in college,” Rasheed said shortly after winning the Souther Scuffle at 197 lbs. in January. “My freshman year (when he wrestled at 165 lbs.), I was losing way too much weight. When I went to 174 lbs., it was a little better, but I was losing 15 pounds and it was heavy on my body and I started getting hurt.”

With a normal weight that hovers around 190 pounds, he will once again need to cut weight this season.

Rasheed and Cassar split time at 197 lbs. this season in a competitive position battle that lasted until the Big Ten Tournament. Although Rasheed competed for Penn State in the postseason, Cassar had the biggest regular season win to his credit: a 6-3 decision win over then-No. 1 Kollin Moore of Ohio State that gave Penn State the lead in the teams’ dramatic and historic dual.

Cassar could be in the middle of another position battle this season when he joins two-time All-American Nick Nevills at heavyweight, although Nevills, with his experience and success against pretty much everyone not named Kyle Snyder and Adam Coon, seems to be the best bet.

The cause of the lineup shift isn’t known, but rumors suggest Nickal has his eyes on the 2020 Olympics and wants to begin preparing his body for the transition.

Another more short-term possibility is to match Nickal up with Moore instead of Buckeyes 184-pounder Myles Martin, who he shares a bit of a (albeit one-sided as of late) rivalry with. Moore beat Rasheed twice in the postseason this year and might end up being Nickal’s final test before he hangs up his Penn State singlet next spring. Comparatively, Rasheed’s length and strength might be the perfect match for Martin’s physical style.

Now, after a bit of moving and shaking, here’s an updated look at Penn State’s projected lineup:

125 lbs. Gavin Teasdale/Brody Teske

133 lbs. Roman Bravo-Young

141 lbs. Nick Lee

149 lbs. Brady Berge/Jarod Verkleeren

157 lbs. Jason Nolf

165 lbs. Vincenzo Joseph

174 lbs. Mark Hall

184 lbs. Shakur Rasheed

197 lbs. Bo Nickal

285 lbs. Nick Nevills/Anthony Cassar

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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