Penn State Wrestling Clobbers Arizona State, Mark Hall Knocks Off Top-ranked Zahid Valencia
No. 1 Penn State wrestling blew the doors off of Rec Hall against Arizona State in perhaps the most exciting 41-3 dual you’ll ever see. The Nittany Lions won the last nine bouts and pinned three in the win. The evening was full of convincing wins from top to bottom, namely No. 2 Mark Hall’s 4-0 win against No. 1 Zahid Valencia.
How It Happened
The dual began at 125 lbs. between Devin Schnupp and Brandon Courtney. Courtney got off to a fast start and opened up an 8-3 lead after the first period. He extended it to 9-3 with an escape in the second period before a late rally by Schnupp came up short. Schupp dropped a 13-7 decision as the Sun Devils took a 3-0 lead. That win would be the only points Arizona State would scratch across during its visit east to Happy Valley.
Roman Bravo-Young got the Nittany Lions on the board with a 14-1 major decision over No. 7 Ryan Millhof. Bravo-Young beat Millhof convincingly in the first major test of his young college career.
Nick Lee extended Penn State’s lead to 10-3 with a first period pin against Cory Crooks. In what is turning into a breakout season, Lee is now 9-0. he has scored bonus points in eight of his wins.
After Lee’s fall, No. 12 Brady Berge made his Rec Hall debut and had a tall order at hand facing No. 11 Josh Maruca, who was making his return to the Keystone State. The two 149-pounders were tied 2-2 entering the third period before a late takedown by Berge clinched a narrow 5-4 win.
Berge’s win made the team score 13-3 and injected even more drama into Cael Sanderson’s decision about what to do at 149 lbs. Berge is now 6-0 while teammate Jarod Verkleeren is 6-2, with one of his losses coming by one point to Berge.
No. 1 Jason Nolf followed Berge by majoring No. 16 Christian Pagdilao. Nolf turned a 10-4 lead after two periods into an 18-5 major decision following a dominant 8-1 third period.
After the intermission, No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph continued the Nittany Lions’ winning ways with a major decision of his own against No. 5 Josh Shields, who grew up two hours away from State College in Murrysville.
After the 165-lb. match came the premier bout of the evening: No. 1 Zahid Valencia vs. No. 2 Mark Hall, a rematch of the 2018 NCAA Finals and 2017 NCAA semi-finals. After an entire offseason of speculation that Valencia had surpassed him, Hall silenced the peanut gallery and distinguished himself as the No. 1 wrestler at 174 lbs.
Hall shut out Valencia 4-0 nine months after Valencia had dominated him in an 8-2 win for the national title. A three-point second period fueled by an escape and takedown gave Hall the lead after a scoreless first period. He wracked up a total of 2:41 in riding time during the match, including a rideout in the third period.
Hall’s win made the team score 24-3 and sent yet another sold-out Rec Hall crowd into as big of a frenzy as the last time a top-ranked wrestler fell in Happy Valley.
No. 4 Shakur Rasheed continued the onslaught with a 15-0 technical fall win against Kordell Norfleet. In the rare shutout technical fall, Rasheed spent 4:58 of the 6:40 match on top.
No. 1 Bo Nickal did the most No. 1 Bo Nickal thing ever in the 197-lb. bout. He used an entire 35 ticks of the clock to pin Austyn Harris and make the team score 35-3. The dual concluded at 285 lbs. and with the Nittany Lions’ third pin of the evening. No. 2 Anthony Cassar, who has emerged as a title contender and groundswell of bonus points, pinned Brady Daniel to cap off the 41-3 rout. Cassar had already led Daniel 11-2 before pinning him in the third period for his third fall of the season.
Wrestler Of The Dual
Mark Hall | Junior | 174 lbs.
What was that about Zahid Valencia? Mark Hall made good on his struggles against the Arizona State star last season with a huge win that should propel him to the top spot at 174 lbs. until their likely meeting in this year’s NCAA Finals.
Penn State won’t wrestle at Rec Hall again for another month. The Nittany Lions will be out of commission for 18 days until they visit Chattanooga for the Southern Scuffle on New Year’s Day. Their next dual will be on January 11 when they open the Big Ten slate at Northwestern.
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