Lions pile up takedowns in road victory
By Andy Elder
For the Mirror
LEWISBURG — For Bucknell, Friday was an historic night in Sojka Pavilion. For Penn State, it was another lopsided win. In a way, both wrestling teams scored a victory.
The No. 1 Nittany Lions made a statement in their first road dual meet against the Bison before a record Bucknell crowd, an all-time high of 4,279. Penn State won nine of 10 bouts and amassed a 51-3 edge in takedowns to run its dual winning streak to 47 in a 42-3 rout.
While Bucknell celebrated the sellout and the Nittany Lions’ first visit, Penn State coach Cael Sanderson took a more pragmatic approach.
“We’re looking to compete and looking for matches. Everyone’s looking for matches. We knew Bucknell was a quality opponent. All of their kids are in good shape. Great turnout. Great coaching. So, this was beneficial for us, as well,” he said.
The Nittany Lions were methodical in scoring three falls, a technical fall, three major decisions and a decision. Bucknell’s only win came at 165, where Bo Pipher subbed in for Vincenzo Joseph, who Sanderson said wasn’t feeling well, and was defeated by D.J. Hollingshead.
Sophomore 125-pounder Devin Schnupp and redshirt freshman 149-pounder Brady Berge each notched their inaugural dual meet wins as Nittany Lions.
Schnupp entered the third period against Central Mountain grad Geo Barzona tied 2-2, but escaped and scored a clinching takedown with seven seconds left for a 5-2 decision.
“I think Devin just has to realize he’s good because he’s got all those qualities you need to be successful and that’s going to come from him having success. A win like that is great for him,” Sanderson said.
Berge had an easier time of it, scoring 11 takedowns in a variety of ways in a 25-10 technical fall in 6:21.
“I thought Brady wrestled really well. This was his first dual meet, and that means a one-hour weigh-in and all of those fun things. Brady looked great. As the match was going on he looked stronger, which is a really good sign. A lot of different takedowns, a lot of different counter offense as well, tough on the mat. I was really happy with Brady,” Sanderson said.
Berge, locked in a battle for the weight with Jarod Verkleeren, said he was happy to be able to wrestle.
“Anytime you can go out and compete it’s a great feeling. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I got and I was very grateful to be out there competing. I wanted to compete hard and I thought I did,” he said.
“I’m just grateful to be able to wrestle for Penn State and put on a Penn State singlet but it’s just another wrestling match, too, and I had a lot of fun out there and I enjoy the sport. I was looking forward to the match but I look forward to wrestling every time.”
Sanderson said Berge’s performance was just a starting point.
“I think Brady’s just a kid who’s gonna keep getting better because he’s coachable and he’s doing a lot of the little things that make big differences that some kids maybe overlook or aren’t willing to learn,” he said.
“But yeah, he’s looking great. I’m really excited about him. It was a lot of fun to see him go tonight and I know he’s obviously a great wrestler but just a good kid. We’re glad he’s on our team.”
Jason Nolf (3:49), Shakur Rasheed (:31) and Anthony Cassar (:32) each secured falls. Roman Bravo-Young (20-7), Nick Lee (15-5), Mark Hall (20-7) and Bo Nickal (16-6) all recorded major decisions.
Perhaps the most surprising stat of the night was the fact that Penn State could win so handily and not score any nearfall points.
“I think Bucknell had something to say about the turns. They were wrestling tough,” Sanderson said. “We’ve got a good group of guys. They like to compete and they like to score points. Obviously, twos add up a lot slower than fours. They kept wreslting. Really, with no exception, our guys wrestled for seven minutes. That’s what we like to see.”
Penn State figures to face a much tougher test at 1:30 p.m. Sunday when No. 10 Lehigh visits Rec Hall.
125: Schnupp, PSU, dec. Barzona, 5-2. 133: Bravo-Young, PSU, maj. dec. Campbell, 20-7. 141: Lee, PSU, maj. Kolonia, 15-5. 149: Berge, PSU, won by tech. fall over Schiele, 25-10 (6:21). 157: Nolf, PSU, pinned Hartman, 3:49. 165: Hollingshead, BU, dec. Pipher, 10-5. 174: Hall, PSU, maj. dec. Stephani, 20-7. 184: Rasheed, PSU, pinned Inlander, :31. 197: Nickal, PSU, maj. dec. Phipps, 16-6. 285: Cassar, PSU, pinned Stokes, :32.
Referee: Kevin Neville.
Takedowns: Penn State 51; Bucknell 3.
Records: Penn State 2-0; Bucknell 2-2.