Wrestling: Penn State vs. Ohio State Preview - Bo Nickal Seeks Revenge

By Rob Dougherty on February 3, 2017 at 9:00 am
Bo Nickal looks for revenge in Columbus on Friday.
Credit: Onward State

No. 1 Penn State (10-0, 6-0 B1G) returns to the mat on Friday night against No. 3 Ohio State (8-1, 4-1 B1G) with their last major dual of their Big Ten season. The dual will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, starting at 6:00 p.m. EST.

The Buckeyes are led by 2016 Olympic gold medalist and NCAA National Champion Kyle Snyder (6-0), and 2015 NCAA national champion Nathan Tomasello (11-0). However, there's one match Penn State fans will be looking forward to more than the rest, the National Championship rematch between No. 2 Bo Nickal (14-0) vs. No. 9 Myles Martin (20-4), this time at 184 pounds. 

2016 ncaa championship final, 174 pounds - myles martin dec. bo nickal, 11-9

Rewind to March 19, 2016, as fans filed in for the championship session of the 2016 NCAA Championships. Penn State had already wrapped up their fifth title in six years, and had five finalists wrestling for titles that evening. As Bo took the mat to take on Martin, Penn State had already secured individual championships from Nico Megaludis (125 pounds) and Zain Retherford (149 pounds). Bo was seeking to become the third Nittany Lion national champion of the season.

After a tight 1st period that Martin led 2-1, Bo was able to score an escape point and get a takedown of his own in the 2nd. Martin scored an escape point, and it was 4-3 Bo as 30 seconds remained in the period. Bo had a deep underhook and was looking to pick the ankle to take Martin down to his back for near fall points. Had Bo hit this move, he likely is the 2016 NCAA National Champion. Martin countered brilliantly, (thank you to Eleven Warriors for the clip), 

Bo Nickal gets rolled to his back.

A 2-point takedown for Martin plus 4 near fall points put the match at 9-4 late in the 2nd. Bo scratched and clawed to work his way back into the match in the 3rd, but the damage was done. Martin was able to hold on for the decision. As exuberance and happiness filled Madison Square Garden for Buckeye fans, deflation and despair set in for the Nittany Lions.

As Penn State collected their team trophy, Bo's energy, which is as vibrant as anyone on the team, was noticeably down. Martin is a defending champion, so how has his season gone so far? 

myles martin's 2016-17 season

To date, Martin's season has been a bit disappointing, and this is not to say he's been bad, but rather, he's just been performing similarly to how he did last year. He started the season 2nd in the rankings at 184, and has fallen to 10th. His best win this season is an 11-3 decision over potential All-American contender Emery Parker (Illinois). He's 0-3 against the current top 10, with losses to Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech), Sammy Brooks (Iowa), and Jack DeChow (Appalachian State). It's quite possible that Martin hasn't beaten a single wrestler who will All-American this year. Considering he's a returning champion, that has to be a disappointment. 

When compared with Bo's season, it almost doesn't even like these two enter the dual on equal footing. Bo hasn't lost and his competition hasn't been close. His closest match of the season was against No. 3 TJ Dudley (Nebraska), and Bo dominated him from start to finish. Bo pinned Sammy Brooks in Iowa, he pinned Nick Gravina (Rutgers). It seems like his competition is almost always taking an early shower and 6 points are going on the board for Penn State. He's 2nd in the most dominant wrestler standings that were released this week.  

However, maybe Martin can tap into what led to his success at the Garden. Maybe Martin can make a 6-point swing go in his favor again with an overly zealous Bo. These are all possibilities, but the smart money is going toward Bo here. Bo is 3-1 career against Martin and he's been a monster all season. I'm going to predict a Bo win, but I think Martin can keep it to a decision. 

matches (psu wrestlers in bold)

  • 125 pounds - No. 2 Nick Suriano (14-1) vs. No. 18 Jose Rodriguez (11-5)
  • 133 pounds - George Carpenter (1-8) or Triston Law (0-1) vs. No. 1 Nathan Tomasello (11-0)
  • 141 pounds - No. 11 Jimmy Gulibon (10-6) vs. No. 15 Luke Pletcher (21-2)
  • 149 pounds - No. 1 Zain Retherford (15-0) vs. No. 5 Micah Jordan (21-1)
  • 157 pounds - No. 1 Jason Nolf (15-0) vs. Jake Ryan (10-8)
  • 165 pounds - No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (11-2) vs. Cody Burcher (14-8)
  • 174 pounds - No. 9 Mark Hall (20-2) vs. No. 1 Bo Jordan (9-0)
  • 184 pounds - No. 2 Bo Nickal (14-0) vs. No. 10 Myles Martin (20-4)
  • 197 pounds - No. 10 Matt McCutcheon (12-2) vs. No. 4 Kollin Moore (20-2)
  • 285 pounds - No. 3 Nick Nevills (13-1) vs. No. 1 Kyle Snyder (6-0)