Nittany Lions win 39th straight
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson wasn’t really in the reminiscing mood shortly after the second-ranked Nittany Lions dispatched Purdue, 43-6, on Friday night before 6,547 fans at Rec Hall.
The win was the program’s 39th regular season victory in a row, setting a school record.
“We’re going to get ready for our next one (at Maryland on Sunday). That’s what we’re focused on,” Sanderson said. “We’ve had some great matches in the past and great teams in the last couple years, but this really isn’t the time to reflect on that.”
The Lions’ win was much like many of the other 38 in the streak — except for the forfeit. Yep, the Lions had to forfeit 125 because starter Devin Schnupp was sick and former Boise State wrestler and new addition Carson Kuhn hasn’t been certified at 125 yet.
Sanderson said the last time the Lions forfeited a weight was against Virginia Tech, when they had to forfeit 285 shortly after Jan Johnson joined the team during the 2015-16 season.
“We felt terrible about forfeiting 125. We just didn’t have a choice,” Sanderson said. “We had two guys down that were sick, and Kuhn isn’t cleared to wrestle yet. We’d pull somebody off the street if we could, but they really don’t let you do that. They have a good kid at that weight, so I felt bad about that.”
The match was a homecoming of sorts for Tyrone graduate A.J. Schopp, who is in his first year as an assistant coach at Purdue. The 2010 state champion and three-time All-American at Edinboro had many family and friends in the stands watching him coach his wrestlers and talking to him at matside.
“It was exciting to be around family and friends, but other than that, it was just another dual,” Schopp said. “Just to come back to the area and have my family and friends who have been around my whole career watch my team compete was definitely exciting in that aspect of it.”
The Lions (8-0) dominated the Boilermakers (5-4) on their feet, holding a 27-0 edge in takedowns.
“That’s good. I didn’t realize we didn’t give up a takedown,” Sanderson said. “We were really close a few times, but a few guys did a nice job fighting some stuff off. You have to be ready for Purdue because they come in and wrestle hard.”
At 133, Penn State’s Corey Keener found himself in a battle with Ben Thorton. It was 1-1 in the third period when Keener scored a takedown with 1:18 left. Thorton escaped, and he was in on a takedown attempt as time expired, but Keener won, 3-2.
Freshman Nick Lee, who just had his redshirt pulled, made his Rec Hall debut a successful one, picking up a 14-4 major decision over Nate Limmax. Lee turned at least three Limmax shots into takedowns of his own, and his takedown with 40 seconds left secured the major.
“It was a wrestling match just like every other wrestling match,” Lee said, “but I think it’s special because I think the fan base in Rec Hall is special. It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. It was definitely a lot of fun.”
That’s when the Lions’ NCAA champions took the mat.
Zain Retherford notched six takedowns in the first period before pinning Austin Nash in 1:41 at 149.
At 157, Jason Nolf built an 8-2 lead on Cole Wysocki before taking the Boilermaker down, slipping a half nelson in and getting the pin in 3:32.
Vincenzo Joseph notched five takedowns of Jacob Morrisey en route to an 18-3 technical fall in 4:58 at 165.
Mark Hall had a tougher time than most expected against No. 12 Dylan Lydy at 174, leading 2-1 after one period and 5-1 after two periods, but the Lion sophomore had two takedowns, an escape, stalling point and a 1:45 riding time advantage points for an 11-3 major decision.
Bo Nickal didn’t waste any time at 184, cradling Max Lyon for the fall in 1:55.
Southern Scuffle Outstanding Wrestler Shakur Rasheed built a 6-2 lead on Kobe Woods before cradling him for the fall in 1:42 at 197.
“I hit them a lot on Coach Cael when we practice,” Rasheed said of the cradle. “It helps me out a lot. He’s pretty strong, so when I get it on him I know I can get it on anybody.”
“I’ll let Shak have that today,” Sanderson said. “He’s got a pretty darned good cradle.”
Sixth-ranked Nick Nevills and 15th-ranked Shawn Streck were tied, 1-1 in the third period when Nevills took him down with a low double. Streck got a stalling point, but Nevills rode him out, bringing down to the mat three times in the final minute for a 3-2 win.
“Even Nevills was in a tight spot there,” Sanderson said, “having been warned for stalling. I think Nick wrestled well. He hit some nice shots, which is what we need to see. You’ve got to finish those shots.”
125–Welch, P, won by forfeit; 133–Keener, PS, dec. Thorton, 3-2; 141–Lee, PS, maj. dec. Limmax, 14-4; 149–Retherford, PS, pinned Nash, 1:41; 157–Nolf, PS, pinned Wysocki, 3:32
165–Joseph, PS, tech. fall Morrisey, 18-3, 4:58; 174–Hall, PS, maj. dec. Lydy, 11-3; 184–Nickal, PS, pinned Lyon, 1:55; 197–Rasheed, PS, pinned Woods, 1:42; 285–Nevills, PS, dec. Streck, 4-2
Records: Purdue (5-4 overall, 0-3 in Big Ten), Penn State (8-0 overall, 4-0 in Big Ten)
Referee: Anthony Rivera