Penn State Wrestling Pins Seven, Beats Kent State 52-3
No. 1 Penn State wrestling kicked off its season and three-time national title defense in the most fitting way possible. The Nittany Lions rolled over the Kent State Golden Flashes with seven pins and two technical falls en route to a 52-3 win.
How It Happened
After falling behind 3-0, Penn State rattled off nine consecutive bonus point wins to blow past Kent State.
The dual began at 125 lbs. with Devin Schnupp facing Kent State’s Jake Ferri. Schnupp, who started at 125 lbs. last season, god at the weight for the beginning of the season while Cael Sanderson decides how he wants to handle the redshirts for Gavin Teasdale and Brody Teske, two highly ranked freshmen.
Two quick takedowns and releases by Schnupp gave him a 4-2 lead after the first period. Ferri however came back to rattle off four takedowns down the stretch of the bout, score a riding time point, and win 12-8.
Roman Bravo-Young made his Penn State debut at 133 lbs. in style. The true freshman opened up a 9-0 lead over Kent State’s Tim Rooney after two periods before pinning him early in the third period. Bravo-Young, with a charisma reminiscent of teammates Mark Hall and Bo Nickal, flexed in front of his new fans to celebrate his first college win.
Bravo-Young took down Rooney midway through the first period and rode him out for the last 1:40, nearly pinning him but picking up four back points in the process. A stall point and takedown gave Bravo-Young a 9-0 advantage after two periods, before he pinned Rooney seconds into the third period.
No. 4 Nick Lee tried to go back-to-back with Bravo-Young, taking down Kent State’s Cory Simpson early in the period and sending the Golden Flash right to his back. Lee came close to pinning Simpson at the end of the first period but narrowly ran out of time before the clock expired. He scored four back points at the buzzer, which gave him a 9-1 lead after one period. Lee scored another nine points in the second period off of two takedowns and four near fall points to win 18-2.
Jarod Verkleeren got the start at 149 lbs. over Brady Berge. In his Rec Hall debut, Verkleeren made about as strong and as fast of a case for the starting job as possible, throwing and pinning Kody Komara early in the first period. Komara attempted to catch Verkleeren in a body lock, but the redshirt freshman tossed him to the mat from a make-or-break position.
Verkleeren’s win was the first of a run of six consecutive falls by the Nittany Lions that turned an 11-3 deficit into a 47-3 deficit.
No. 1 Jason Nolf kicked off his senior season in true Jason Nolf fashion. Wrestling without a knee brace, the two-time national champion toyed with Nick Monico for the first 1:29 of the bout, taking him down six times before finally putting him on his back with a stifling cross-face cradle.
The fall was the 46th of Nolf’s career and tied him with Ed Ruth for the fourth most in program history. Nolf needs just seven to tie Zain Retherford, David Taylor, and Josh Moore’s program record of 53. It also gave the Nittany Lions a 23-43 lead halfway through the dual.
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph added his six points of his own with a fall against Isaac Bast. Joseph scored five takedowns, opening up a 12-4 lead before pinning him.
No. 2 Mark Hall took down Dylan Barreiro 34 seconds into the 174 lb. bout and rode him out for the rest of the first period, scoring eight near fall points to take a 10-0 lead. Hall quickly escaped to begin the second period and took down Barreiro directly to his back for a fourth straight pin.
No. 4 Shakur Rasheed only needed one takedown to pin Andrew McNaly 1:13 into the first period of the 184 lb. bout, his debut at the weight after dropping from 197 lbs. in the offseason.
It took only seven seconds for No. 1 Bo Nickal to register his first takedown at 197 lbs. He scored four more in the period against Shane Mast to go up 8-4 before pinning him at the 2:06 mark.
The streak of pins came to an end with Anthony Cassar’s bout with Billy Bolla. Cassar, debuting at 285 lbs., looked comfortable at his new weight, taking Bolla down five times and scoring four near fall points. A 7-2 lead after the first period mushroomed to 15-2 two minutes later thanks to an eight-point outburst from Cassar. A takedown to start the third period gave Cassar the technical fall win and put an exclamation point on the home opener blowout.
- Devin Schnupp looked a bit bigger and much more aggressive against Jake Ferri. Even in the loss, the sophomore showed much improvement from last season when he often seemed overpowered on the mat. Despite Schnupp’s progress, Sanderson’s best bet is likely with either Teasdale or Teske.
- Jason Nolf is back. Wrestling without a knee brace, Nolf was competing at his normal pace, taking Andrassy down six times in the first period before pinning him.
- Penn State’s wrestlers must’ve been trying to make it home in time to watch the 4 p.m. NFL games. The second half of the bout, which featured two first period falls and four total, took a total of 24 minutes. The entire dual last a total of 75 minutes.
- If there was any doubt about Anthony Cassar moving up to 285 lbs., he certainly put it to bed. Cassar, who said earlier in the week he weighs around 235 lbs. right now, looked huge. Although Bolla is far from the best wrestler he’ll face this season, Cassar was in control for the entire bout, which is a good early sign for someone making a jump to heavyweight.
Wrestler of the Dual
Jarod Verkleeren, 149 lbs., Redshirt freshman
Although five other wrestlers had the same outcome as Verkleeren and another one of them also did so in his Rec Hall debut, the redshirt freshman from Greensburg, Penn. stole the show. He threw Komara from their feet with such ease that it gave fans a breath of reassurance as he fills the void left by three-time national champion Zain Retherford.
What’s more, he was presented with Penn State’s own wrestler of the dual honors by Retherford himself.
Penn State won’t wrestle in dual action until November 30 at Bucknell. The Nittany Lions will compete in the Keystone Classic next weekend at the Palestra.
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About the Author
Penn State’s magical 2019 season came to a close in heartbreaking fashion at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
It’s hard not to draw parallels between this year’s lacrosse team and a couple other Nittany Lion teams that have used the City of Brotherly Love as a launching pad to sustained success.
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