Lions power past Michigan at Jordan Center

UNIVERSITY PARK — Streams of fire erupted occasionally above the raised mat in the dark of the glitzed out Bryce Jordan Center. You could feel the heat coming from the fire.

Down on the mat, the top-ranked Penn State wrestling team was feeling some heat from No. 5 and 9-0 Michigan.

The Wolverines battled throughout, but Penn State 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph and 174-pounder Mark Hall won back-to-back nailbiters to lead the Lions to a 25-11 victory on Friday before 15,703 at the BJC and Big Ten Network cameras.

“It’s kind of fun,” Joseph said. “I’m not saying wrestling close matches is fun or anything like that, but it’s exciting. That’s like a moment you’re going to remember. You want to win it, and you’re going to do whatever you can to win it. Giving up is kind of stupid.”

“That’s a very good team,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said of Michigan, “and we won some close matches, and I think our guys fought hard. Even the matches we lost, I think our guys gave a good effort. Yeah, we want to win, and we expect to win, but I’m more worried about our performance and wrestling with some fire, especially when you have 16,000 people there.”

It was Penn State’s 55th straight dual meet win.

The 10-0 Lions fell behind 8-0 early as Drew Mattin beat Devin Schnupp, 6-0, at 125 and top-ranked Stevan Micic earned a 20-5 technical fall over Scott Stossel at 133. Stossel was starting for the first time due to Roman Bravo-Young’s knee injury.

Stossel actually had Micic’s leg in the air for 30 seconds on a takedown attempt in the first period, but he couldn’t finish it.

“Scotty was excited,” Sanderson said. “He almost got a takedown. He lost a lot of energy trying to finish that shot, but he kept fighting. He said that was one of the biggest adrenalin rushes in his life.”

At 141, Penn State’s No. 7 Nick Lee stopped the Michigan run with a 10-4 win over fifth-ranked Kanen Storr. Lee scored four takedowns en route to the decision.

“I definitely have some areas I can improve,” Lee said, “but, generally, I wrestled pretty well. I got to my attacks and I finished my shots. My dad used to tell me whoever gets the first takedown wins. That’s not really true that much, but I always try to get the first takedown.”

Sanderson with Jarod Verkleeren at 149 against Malik Amine, and he held a 5-2 lead in the second period, but Amine chipped away at the lead. He got a takedown with 1:05 left to go ahead, 6-5, and with riding time won, 7-5.

Top-ranked Jason Nolf (19-0), whose has faced a number of top 10 opponents lately, faced another in No. 5 Alec Pantaleo. Nolf put Pantaleo on his back in the first period with a bow-and-arrow, and he was up 7-0 in the third with a riding point coming when Pantaleo took him down. Nolf just missed the major decision, 9-2.

The Wolverines led at the half, 11-6.

The top-ranked Joseph (17-0) found himself in a 2-2 bout with No. 7 Logan Massa after both wrestlers got penalized a point for hands to the face. They went into overtime and appeared to be headed to the tiebreakers, but Joseph slipped behind Massa and finally brought him to the mat before time expired. His 4-2 win was upheld on review.

“I would have liked to have approached that match differently, be a little more offensive,” Joseph said. “I’m not going to go out there and wrestle like Mark Hall or Jason Nolf because that’s not how I wrestle. I’m going to wrestle pretty much the same no matter who I’m wrestling.”

The top-ranked Hall (19-0) and No. 3 Myles Amine were in a 1-1 bout when Hall took him down with 26 seconds left. Amine escaped with 14 seconds remaining, but Hall avoided any danger and won, 3-2. He raised his hands to exhort the crowd as he ran off the mat.

“I thought he wrestled well,” Sanderson said. “His opponent is somebody he could very well see in the national tournament. He’s very good. You’ve got to be ready to wrestle one of the best in the country. Hall fended off some attacks, and he was close to scoring a few additional times, where he didn’t get the points. Just like Vincenzo, Hall is a tough kid”.

The Lions had their first lead, 12-11.

At 184, Shakur Rasheed scored two takedowns in the first period against Jelani Embree, and they stood up in a 5-3 win.

Top-ranked Bo Nickal (18-0) wrapped up the dual meet win by pinning Jackson Striggow in 5:50 at 197.

Anthony Cassar, wrestling in the BJC for the first time in his five-year career, finished off the meet with a convincing 19-8 major decision over Mason Parris at 285.

“I felt at peace before the match,” Cassar said. “I trust my training, and I feel like I work harder and I’m more committed than most. I trust in God. I had a lot of fun tonight. I was definitely hyped going into it.”

125–Mattin, M, dec. Schnupp, 6-0; 133–Micic, M, tech. fall Stossel, 20-5, 7:00; 141–Lee, PS, dec. Storr, 10-4; 149–Ma. Amine, M, dec. Verkleeren, 7-5; 157–Nolf, PS, dec. Pantaleo, 9-2

165–Joseph, PS, dec. Massa, 4-2 OT; 174–Hall, PS, dec. My. Amine, 3-2; 184–Rasheed, PS, dec. Embree, 5-3; 197–Nickal, PS, pinned Striggow, 5:50; 285–Cassar, PS, maj. dec. Parris, 19-8.

Records: Michigan (9-1 overall, 5-1 in Big Ten), Penn State (10-0 overall, 6-0 in Big Ten)

Attendance: 15,703