Short-Handed Penn State Wrestling Loses First Dual Since 2015 To Arizona State
Each time No. 1 Penn State wrestling has suited up during the last four-plus years, the Nittany Lions have left the mat victorious. Friday night put Cael Sanderson’s side in an unfamiliar position, as it fell to No. 6 Arizona State on the road 19-18 in a back-and-forth dual.
The loss is Penn State’s first since February 15, 2015 against Oklahoma State, 1,741 days ago.
Penn State won five bouts and got bonus-point wins from Nick Lee and Mark Hall. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the upset-minded Sun Devils who exploited the Nittany Lions’ weaknesses at 125 lbs., 149 lbs., 184 lbs., and 197 lbs, winning bouts at all four weights and scoring three decisive bonus points in the process.
How It Happened
The dual began at 125 lbs. with Brody Teske facing No. 19 Brandon Courtney. Courtney jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first period and never looked back, rolling to an 18-7 major decision that gave the Sun Devils a 4-0 advantage.
In his Grand Canyon State homecoming, No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young got the Nittany Lions on the board with a gritty 7-6 decision over No. 16 Joshua Kramer. Bravo-Young took a 7-4 lead into the third period and held off a late comeback attempt by Kramer to make the team score 4-3 after two bouts.
At 141 lbs., No. 2 Nick Lee kept things moving for the Nittany Lions and gave them the lead when he beat Cory Crooks via tech fall. Lee led 8-1 and had nearly two minutes of riding time after the first period before locking in for a 10-2 second period to secure the 18-3 technical fall. He tallied five takedowns and eight back points in the win.
After plenty of talk about how he’s taken a big step since last year, Lee has been on a rampage to begin his junior season. He’s 6-0 with two technical falls and three falls. His only non-bonus point win thus far has been an 11-5 win over Central Michigan’s Dresden Simon in the finals of the Black Knight Invitational last weekend.
Jarod Verkleeren got the start over Luke Gardner at 149 lbs. and faced Joshua Maruca. After trailing for most of the bout, Verkleeren dropped a narrow 5-4 decision to Maruca on riding time. His loss made the team score 8-7 after four bouts.
Bo Pipher competed again in place of No. 5 Brady Berge at 157 lbs. once again. He also dropped a decision, losing 9-4 to Jacori Teemer and sending the Nittany Lions into the intermission trailing 10-8.
Wrestling resumed at 165 lbs. with No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph taking on longtime friend Joshua Shields, who he beat twice last season. After a scoreless first period, Joseph opened up a 4-3 lead in the second and held on for a 7-4 win that pushed Penn State back ahead 11-10.
Next, No. 1 Mark Hall met No. 8 Anthony Valencia, brother of former rival Zahid who moved up to 184 lbs. this season. In his first true test of the season, Hall won convincingly 11-3, despite trailing early.
Valencia scored the first points of the bout, taking Hall down in the opening frame. From there though, Hall went on an 11-1 run with four takedowns to secure bonus points and run Penn State’s advantage up to 15-10.
With No. 2 Shakur Rasheed still out as he recovers from a torn ACL sustained last season, Penn State opted to forfeit at 184 lbs. instead of having Creighton Edsell face two-time national champion No. 1 Zahid Valencia. The forfeit pushed Arizona State back ahead 16-15.
At 197 lbs., No. 7 Kyle Conel met Kordell Norfleet and was overmatched from the first whistle. Norfleet scored four takedowns and a riding time point to win 10-4 and run the Sun Devils’ lead up to 19-15 with one bout remaining.
The dual came down to 285 lbs. where No. 1 Anthony Cassar faced No. 5 Tanner Hall, needing at least a technical fall to save the Nittany Lions’ 60-dual winning streak.
Cassar nearly finished the job in the first period, taking down Hall and bringing him to his back for four near-fall points. He brought a 6-1 lead into the second period. After escaping in the first period, Hall answered Cassar with another escape and a takedown of his own in the second period to make it 6-4.
He added an escape later in the period to bring a 7-4 lead into the final period. Cassar scored one more takedown in the third period to win 9-5, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Nittany Lions’ comeback efforts. The Nittany Lions dropped the dual 19-18.
Penn State wrestling will resume its season in two weeks when it visits Lehigh on December 6.
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