Lee’s effort at 141 sparks No. 2 Lions to victory

By Todd Irwin


UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State freshman Nick Lee took a 4-2 lead into the third period against Minnesota’s returning All-American Tommy Thorn.

But the best was yet to come. Seventh-ranked Lee outscored the 10th-ranked Thorn, 9-1, in a furious third period in which he nearly pinned the Golden Gopher to win, 13-3.

“I think the whole match I was focused on scoring points,” Lee said. “I think you can tell near the end when guys get a little tired sometimes. The whole match, I’m just focusing on not really what he does but what my next move is going to be.”

“I thought Nick wrestled really well,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “Thorn is tough in all the positions. It’s good to see. We need to him to wrestle great.”

The 19-3 Lee received the Ridge Riley Award for the best performance of the night as the second-ranked and now 10-0 Nittany Lions rolled to a 35-8 victory over the 16th-ranked Gophers before Big Ten Network cameras and a sellout crowd of 6,588 clad in white on a whiteout Friday night at Rec Hall.

“I think overall I think our guys wrestled fine,” Sanderson said. “Minnesota is always a tough team. Their kids are always in good shape and well coached.”

Zain Retherford (19-0) received a forfeit at 149, prompting a fan to yell that Penn State football coach James Franklin, who was in attendance, would wrestle the two-time NCAA champion, drawing laughter from those in attendance.

So instead of the match starting at 125, it began — by draw, Sanderson said, at 157, where NCAA champion Jason Nolf (19-0) rolled up a 19-5 major decision over 18th-ranked Jake Short. Nolf racked up seven takedowns against Short, who gave three stalling points, and Nolf nearly got nearfall points on his final takedown at the end of the bout.

At 165, top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph (14-0) eked out a 3-1 victory over seventh-ranked Nick Wanzek. Joseph scored a late takedown in the first period and an escape in the second, and that was it.

Second-ranked 174-pounder Mark Hall (20-0), who went to school in Apple Valley, Minn., couldn’t manage bonus points against Chris Pfarr, recording a 10-3 decision. Hall hit some nice duck-under moves as he scored eight points in the third period.

At 184, Bo Nickal (19-0), ranked No. 1, had to work a little longer to get a pin against Dylan Anderson. He built a 13-5 lead before taking Anderson down into a low-leg cradle and pinning him in 5:31.

“I just grabbed his leg and grabbed his leg. I’ve kind of been doing that one for awhile,” Nickal said, “probably since the eighth grade.”

Speaking of cradle, Shakur Rasheed (15-2) continued his cradle parade on his opponents. The 10th-ranked Rasheed, who weighed in with Anthony Cassar, used a far cradle to deck Brandon Krone in only 55 seconds.

The Lions led, 22-0, at halftime.

Penn State 285-pounder Nick Nevills (19-3) followed with a 2-0 win over Rylee Streifel. Nevills used a secod-period escape and a 1:33 riding time advantage to get the hard-earned decision. Nevills rode the entire third period.

The Golden Gophers (7-6 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten) finally got on the scoreboard when sixth-ranked junior and returning NCAA Tournament finalist Ethan Lizak, a two-time PIAA state champion from Parkland High School, earned a 15-0 technical fall over Devin Schnupp at 125. Roster addition Carson Kuhn, still hasn’t been certified at 125.

“I thought Devin fought hard,” Sanderson said. “Most people on the planet would have gotten pinned. He did a great job fighting off of his back.”

At 133, Minnesota’s 12th-ranked Mitch McKee took an 11-0 lead over Corey Keener into the third period, but Keener continued wrestling. Keener reversed and scored three takedowns, including one with a toe still in the circle at the edge of the mat with 6 seconds left. McKee had to settle for a 15-8 decision.

On Sunday the Lions are at 13th-ranked Rutgers.

157–Nolf, PS, maj. dec. Short, 19-5; 165–Joseph, PS, dec. Wanzek, 3-1; 174–Hall, PS, dec. Pfarr, 10-3; 184–Nickal, PS, pinned Anderson, 5:31; 197–Rasheed, PA, pinned Krone, :55

285–Nevills, PS, dec. Streifel, 2-0; 125–Lizak, M, tech. fall Schnupp, 15-0, 6:23; 133–McKee, dec. Keener, 15-8; 141–Lee, PS, maj. dec. Thorn, 13-3; 149–Retherford, PS, won by forfeit.

Records: Minnesota (7-6 overall, 2-3 in Big Ten), Penn State (10-0 overall, 6-0 in Big Ten)

Attendance: 6,588