Penn State Wrestling: Lions Survives At Lehigh, 23-19

By Rob Dougherty on December 4, 2017 at 11:57 am
Cael picked up his 35th straight dual victory on Sunday.
Joe Maiorana - USA Today Sports

Penn State extended their dual win streak to 35 in front of Lehigh's biggest home crowd ever, but the Mountain Hawks made the Lions earn it. Penn State was shorthanded coming into this dual with No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph and No. 18 Corey Keener out of the lineup, and had a disastrous start unfold. 

No. 5 Darian Cruz made short work of Devin Schnupp, by securing a fall in the first period that got the PPL Center rocking for Lehigh. Cruz was able to get a takedown early and he secured a cradle rather quickly from there. The defending national champion was dominant and set the tone for Lehigh, they were not there to be a punching bag. 

No. 3 Scott Parker secured a second period fall over Dominic Giannangeli. Giannangeli was the replacement for Keener and battled well. The score was 2-2 and riding time was not a factor when Parker picked up the fall. Cael Sanderson challenged the takedown immediately before the fall for a headgear pull, but the challenge was denied and Parker was awarded the fall. Penn State was down 12-0 and Lehigh was taking advantage of their openings. 

Jered Cortez then dropped a decision 2-0 to Luke Karam. Cortez was close on a takedown at the end of the first period but could not secure it. A third period ride out for Karam won him the match and Lehigh had a 15-0 lead. Even with Penn State's studs coming to the mat, they had a significant hole to climb out of. 

At 149, No. 1 Zain Retherford got the Lions rolling with a first period fall over Cortlandt Schuyler. Zain secured two takedowns prior to the fall at the 1:27 mark. No. 1 Jason Nolf then came to the mat and picked up a 23-8 technical fall victory over Ian Brown. Nolf wrestled like he always does, scoring eleven takedowns before the tech was given. What was a 15-0 lead was now 15-11 at intermission, the Lions were in sight, but Lehigh was not done fighting. 

No. 15 Gordon Wolf picked up a 24-12 major decision over Bo Pipher, who was wrestling up from 149 pounds to fill in for Vincenzo. Pipher did not make a bad showing though, reversing Wolf once and scoring a takedown of his own. Considering what happened at 125 and 133, Pipher holding off the tech and the fall kept Penn State within striking distance. 

Then, two top 5 matchups came back to back. At 174, No. 2 Mark Hall picked up a 3-2 win over No. 5 Jordan Kutler. Hall was never really threatened until the final thirty seconds of the third period. Kutler was in deep on a single leg and nearly had Hall down, which would have given him the lead. Hall was able to somehow fight it off and picked up the a big win for the Lions. Kutler is going to be dangerous in March, but Hall did what Hall does, find a way to win. 

No. 1 Bo Nickal then beat No. 4 Ryan Preisch 3-2. Bo was the aggressor and pushed the tempo against Preisch for the vast majority of the match. Preisch never really got going and was hit with stalling in the second period. Bo was close on a shot in the third period that would have put him out of sight of Preisch. However, Preisch was able to fight it off, but he could not score the match winning takedown. Bo's win put Penn State down 19-17 with two matches left, and it seemed like the Lions were going to find a way to win the dual. 

No. 11 Anthony Cassar then defeated Jake Jakobsen 8-3 to give the Lions their first lead of the dual. Cassar secured one of the least dramatic wins for Penn State, and even then it took two takedowns late to open up the score. Cassar was also ridden out in the entire second period, which breathed life into Lehigh's upset bid. Cassar is really coming into his own as the season goes on, but he will need to improve from bottom. 

No. 3 Nick Nevills survived against No. 14 Jordan Wood 2-0 to clinch the dual for Penn State. Nevills scored an escape point in the second period, and nearly gave up a takedown on a single leg, but was able to fight it off and take a 1-0 lead into the third period. Nevills has one of the best top games in the nation, and he was able to ride out Wood despite Wood doing everything he could to escape. Wood was close on an escape a couple of times but Nevills was able to hold on to clinch the win for Penn State. 

It is not often that Penn State is challenged to this degree in a dual, but let's not lose perspective about this win. The Lions were down two starters and Lehigh opened up a massive lead. Lehigh wrestled close to, if not at, their best, and would have beaten a lesser team had they appeared at the PPL Center and not Penn State. However, when Penn State needed points, Zain and Nolf put their stamp on this dual and got them back into it. Without them this comeback would not have been possible, the team needed bonus points and these guys came up big when it mattered most. For Hall and Bo, both won without a bonus victory for the first time this season. However, Kutler and Preisch made it difficult for them, and stayed in the match all the way through. Hall and Bo are gamers and kept their cool as they faced tremendous pressure late to open up the opportunity for Cassar and Nevills to finish off the win. 

match results

  • 125 pounds - No. 5 Darian Cruz (7-0) fall Devin Schnupp (1-6), WBF (1:13), Lehigh 6-0
  • 133 pounds - No. 3 Scott Parker (8-0) fall Dominic Giannangeli (6-4), WBF (4:12), Lehigh 12-0
  • 141 pounds - Luke Karam (6-2) dec. Jered Cortez (7-1), 2-0, Lehigh 15-0
  • 149 pounds - No. 1 Zain Retherford (8-0) fall Cortlandt Schuyler (2-4), WBF (1:27), Lehigh 15-6
  • 157 pounds - No. 1 Jason Nolf (9-0) tech fall Ian Brown (5-3), 23-8 (TF 6:40), Lehigh 15-11
  • 165 pounds - No. 15 Gordon Wolf (5-2) major dec. Bo Pipher (6-7), 24-12, Lehigh 19-11
  • 174 pounds - No. 2 Mark Hall (9-0) dec. No. 5 Jordan Kutler (7-1), 3-2, Lehigh 19-14
  • 184 pounds - No. 1 Bo Nickal (8-0) dec. No. 4 Ryan Preisch (6-1), 3-2, Lehigh 19-17
  • 197 pounds - No. 11 Anthony Cassar (7-1) dec. Jake Jakobsen (4-3), 8-3, PSU 20-19
  • 285 pounds - No. 3 Nick Nevills (9-0) dec. No. 14 Jordan Wood (4-3), 2-0, PSU 23-19