Nittany Lions release 2018-19 schedule
UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, winners of seven of the last eight NCAA Championships, announced its 2018-19 schedule, which includes 14 dual meets and two in-season tournaments this year.
The Nittany Lions return seven All-Americans, including four grapplers who have claimed a total of seven NCAA individual titles. Penn State will host eight home duals this year, including four of its nine Big Ten matchups. The Nittany Lions head into the season riding a 45-dual win streak dating back to Feb. 15, 2015. Penn State won its final dual of the 2014-15 season, went 16-0 in 2015-16, 14-0 in 2016-17 and 14-0 last year.
Penn State will open up the season at home in Rec Hall on Sunday, Nov. 11, by hosting Kent State at 2 p.m. The Lions own a 7-0 lead in the all-time series with Kent State, including a 27-15 win at the Virginia Duals on Jan. 8, 2011, in the last meeting. The Lions then head to the University of Pennsylvania for the Keystone Classic on Sunday, Nov. 18. Penn State won last year’s event with 190.5 points and crowned seven champions. The Lions close out November with a trip to Lewisburg, Pa., to take on the Bucknell Bison on Friday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Penn State is 2-0 all-time against Bucknell, including last year’s 36-6 win in Rec Hall on Nov. 12.
The Nittany Lions welcome Lehigh to Rec Hall on Sunday, Dec. 2, for a 2 p.m. matchup with its long-standing rival. Penn State has won eight straight against the Mountain Hawks, including last year’s thrilling 23-19 victory it the PPL Center in Allentown. Arizona State will make its first-ever appearance in Rec Hall on Friday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions and Sun Devils have met seven times to date, splitting the series 3-3-1. Every match-up has been at a neutral site. The Nittany Lions won the last match-up, a 19-16 victory on Jan. 20, 2001, at the National Duals held in the Jordan Center.
Penn State returns to Chattanooga for the 2019 Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2. The Nittany Lions have won the Scuffle in each of its last seven trips to the event, including last year’s victory with 197.0 points, including six champions. The Big Ten schedule begins on Friday, Jan. 11, with a road dual at Northwestern at 8 p.m. The Lions own a 15-1 lead in the all-time series with the Wildcats, including a 45-3 victory in Rec Hall on Jan. 29, 2017, the last meeting between the two teams. Two days later, Penn State will welcome Wisconsin to Rec Hall on Sunday, Jan. 13, for a 1 p.m. contest. Penn State is 15-8 all-time against the Badgers, including the last match-up, a 33-11 victory in Madison on Jan. 27, 2017.
The team hosts Nebraska on Sunday, Jan. 20, for a 1 p.m. dual in Rec Hall. Penn State owns an 8-7-1 lead in the all-time series, including the last meeting, a 27-14 victory on Jan. 8, 2017, in Lincoln. The Nittany Lions hit the road for two Big Ten duals the next weekend. Penn State visits Purdue on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. The Lions own a 16-1-1 lead in the all-time series, including last year’s 43-6 victory on Jan. 19, 2018, in Rec Hall. Penn State then heads to Indiana for a dual against the Hoosiers on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m. Penn State is 19-0-1 all-time against IU, including last season’s 44-3 victory in Rec Hall on Jan. 17, 2018.
The Nittany Lions host Michigan at the Jordan Center the next weekend Feb. 1-3. The date and time of the dual will be announced at a later date per the Big Ten. The dual will be the 2019 BJC Dual. The Nittany Lions own a 31-24 edge in the all-time series with Michigan, including last year’s 25-12 win in Ann Arbor on Jan. 12, 2018. Penn State then visits Ohio State Feb. 8-10. The date and time of the dual will be announced at a later date per the Big Ten. The Lions own a 20-12 lead in the all-time series, including a 19-18 victory in a raucous Rec Hall on Feb. 3 last year.
The Big Ten dual season comes to a close the following weekend. Penn State hosts Michigan State on Friday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions have a 21-9 lead in the all-time series, including last season’s 48-3 victory in East Lansing on Jan. 14, 2018. The Lions then hit the road for a dual at Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. The Lions trail the Illini, 9-8, in the all-time series but have won six straight. Penn State will host Buffalo on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall in the season finale, with the event serving as senior day for Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 4-0 all-time against the Bulls, including last season’s 55-0 shutout win in Rec Hall on Feb. 18, 2018.
The postseason begins in Minneapolis, Minn., with the 2019 Big Ten Championships, March 9-10. Penn State will then look to win its eighth NCAA title in the last nine years the following week at the NCAA Championships. This year’s event takes place on March 21-23 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
The Nittany Lions have seven returning All-Americans, four of whom have won a combined NCAA titles. Sophomore Nick Lee went 32-7 last season with five pins, seven techs and 12 majors. He earned All-America laurels at 141 with a fifth place finish as a true freshman. Senior Jason Nolf, a three-time NCAA finalist and the winner of the last two 157-pound titles, went 26-1 last season with the lone loss an injury forfeit setback in late January. Nolf is 86-3 all-time with 45 pins, 22 technical falls and 10 majors. Junior Vincenzo Joseph is the two-time defending NCAA Champion at 165 pounds and returns after his 25-2 season from a year ago. Joseph is 47-6 all-time at Penn State with six pins, eight techs and 12 majors.
Junior Mark Hall is a two-time NCAA finalist at 174 pounds and returns after his 32-1 season last year. Hall is 63-4 all-time with 25 pins, ten techs and nine majors and won the 2017 NCAA crown. Senior Bo Nickal is, like Nolf, a three-time NCAA finalist and has won the last two NCAA titles at 184. Nickal was a perfect 31-0 mark. He heads into this year with a 90-3 career record, including 41 pins, nine techs and 17 majors. Senior Shakur Rasheed was an All-American at 197 last season, going 24-5 overall and capping the season off with a seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships. Rasheed is 46-13 as a Lion with 20 pins, three techs and 11 majors.
Senior Nick Nevills earned his second All-America honor last year with a seventh place finish at 285. Nevills went 30-7 a year ago and is 61-15 all-time at Penn State with 14 pins, four techs and 10 majors. Senior Anthony Cassar returns after a 16-2 run at 197 a year ago. Cassar went 8-1 in duals, including a 5-0 record in Big Ten dual meets. Cassar had five majors a year ago as well.