Sanderson not happy with ending

By Andy Elder

For The Mirror

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 2 Penn State was just minutes removed from waxing No. 4 Ohio State, 32-12, in front of a Buckeye wrestling record crowd of 15,338 in Value City Arena on Friday night in what many would consider the Nittany Lions’ most dominant performance of the year.

But there stood Penn State coach Cael Sanderson in a back hallway with the countenance of a man whose team didn’t meet expectations.

“It’s hard to make a claim like that when you lose your last two matches, you know,” he said with a scowl. “I think overall our guys wrestled well.”

Earlier in the week, Sanderson had contended that while the Ohio State dual was a big match, the Nittany Lions consider every match they wrestle a big match. Bottom line, they want to win every time they compete.

However, this match featured four of the top-ranked wrestlers at their respective weights and it could have been five had Ohio State’s top-ranked 174-pounder, Bo Jordan, not been sidelined with an injury. And, when you consider that for the past six years the winner of this dual meet went on to win the NCAA championship, there was great anticipation.

Penn State removed any drama by emerging from a 5-5 tie after two bouts with a string of six consecutive wins to open an insurmountable 32-5 lead.

“I thought five wins would win the dual meet and we felt good about 33, we felt good about 97 and we felt good about heavyweight. And we felt good about 74,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said.

“They match for us tonight was 41 and that was probably 51-49 if you look at who’s gonna win. One’s a fifth-year senior and one’s a freshman and it was a pretty close bout. We thought we’d win that. I expected a much closer score; I expected to win.”

The teams swapped technical falls right out of the gate. Penn State’s second-ranked 125-pounder Nick Suriano rolled up nine points in the third period, along with a riding time point, to finish off a 19-4 technical fall over No. 18 Jose Rodriguez.

At 133, No. 1 Nathan Tomasello used nine takedowns to roll up a 22-7 technical over George Carpenter.

The Nittany Lions then swept the next three bouts to open a 19-5 lead at the intermission.

No. 11 Jimmy Gulibon started the sweep by winning one of the night’s tossup bouts. With his match with No. 15 Luke Pletcher tied, 3-3, at the end of the second period, he used an escape and 1:17 in riding time for a 5-3 win.

Top-ranked 149-pounder Zain Retherford ceded the initial takedown to No. 5 Micah Jordan and led just 3-2 at the end of a period. Retherford stretched the lead to 10-2 after two and then poured it on with nine points in the third, and a riding time point, for a 20-5 technical fall.

At 157, No. 1 Jason Nolf needed just 1:36 to turn Buckeye backup Anthony DeCarlo and pin him in 1:36. It’s Nolf’s 10th pin of the season.

The onslaught continued after the break, as Penn State tacked on three more wins.

Fourth-ranked Vincenzo Joseph thoroughly dominated Cody Burcher in an 11-1 major decision at 165.

With Jordan out of the Buckeyes’ lineup, Mark Hall dominated backup Justin Kresevic. Hall scored six takedowns before hooking up a cement mixer on Kresevic and pinning him in 5:20.

That set up the Nittany Lions’ last win and the most anticipated match of the night, at 184. Penn State’s second-ranked Bo Nickal was paired with No. 10 Myles Martin in a rematch of the 2016 NCAA 174-pound final that Martin won, 11-9.

That match titled Martin’s way in the second period when Nickal tried to toss him to his back but Martin rolled Nickal through to his back for a six-point move that Nickal couldn’t recover from.

This time, Nickal emerged from almost every flurry with a takedown, one in each period. He added a reversal for an 8-2 decision.

Nickal admitted that it was satisfying that he beat Martin in their next encounter after the finals loss.

“Yeah, I guess in a way, but I don’t really think about it. I just really take every match the same, no matter who the opponent is. I was going out there to wrestle the same as I always do. There was nothing else. I don’t need any external motivation,” he said.

Nickal said that while it may have looked like he learned not to push moves that would have resulted with Martin on his back, that wasn’t the case.

“I was going for the big move. I was trying to put him on his back. Every time I felt like I was locked up in a position, he didn’t really want to wrestle through it. He kind of like bailed,” he said.

“With that, it’s hard for me to get that when he’s bailing out of those positions and he’s not really trying to wrestle through it. If he tries to wrestle through it, then he’s going to go to his back.”

Ohio State salvaged some success with wins at 197 and heavyweight. No. 4 Kollin Moore turned away a game ninth-ranked Matt McCutcheon, using an escape and takedown in the third to emerge with a 9-6 win. And, at 285, defending NCAA champion and Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder used nine takedowns to roll to a 20-9 major decision over No. 3 Nick Nevills.

“If you come in here and win seven out of 10 matches, that’s pretty good but we need to keep getting better,” Sanderson said. “There are some areas where we’re off on our technique a little bit that we can improve upon, some of our younger guys. We definitely have room to improve and that’ll never change.”

125: No. 2 Nick Suriano, PSU, won by tech. fall over No. 18 Josh Rodriguez, 19-4 (7:00). 133: No. 1 Nathan Tomasello, OSU, won by tech. fall over George Carpenter, 22-7 (6:01). 141: No. 11 Jimmy Gulibon, PSU, dec. NO. 15 Luke Pletcher, 5-3. 149: No. 1 Zain Retherford, PSU, won by tech. fall over No. 5 Micah Jordan, 20-5 (7:00). 157: No. 1 Jason Nolf, PSU, pinned Anthony DeCarlo, 1:36.

165: No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, maj. dec. Cody Burcher, 11-1. 174: No. 7 Mark Hall, PSU, pinned Justin Kresevic, 5:20. 184: No. 2 Bo Nickal, PSU, dec. No. 10 Myles Martin, 8-2. 197: No. 4 Kollin Moore, OSU, dec. No. 9 Matt McCutcheon, 9-6. 285: No. 1 Kyle Snyder, OSU, maj. dec. Nick Nevills, 20-9.

Referee: J.R. Johnson. Attendance: 15,338. Takedowns: Penn State 26; Ohio State 24.

Records: Penn State 11-0, 7-0; Ohio State 9-2, 4-2.