No. 1 Penn State cruised to a win against No. 7 Nebraska on Sunday afternoon in front of another sold out Rec Hall crowd. The Nittany Lions won all six ranked matchups against Nebraska, and it was a fairly comfortable win even with some underwhelming performances. It says a lot about the expectations of the program that when a team wins eight of ten matches against a top-10 outfit like Nebraska, you're left feeling underwhelmed. However, the team has not been totally clicking in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see where they are come March.
It was No. 1 vs. No. 2 at 157 pounds where Jason Nolf toyed with Tyler Berger and picked up a 10-4 decision victory. Nolf is just on a completely different level than his competition, and it really showed in this match. Berger's antics were not appreciated in Rec Hall as it looked like he was trying to twist Nolf's ankle in the second period before a stalemate. He also took a really heavy swipe at Nolf and stalled throughout the third period. Despite all this, Nolf just took what Berger offered and showed why he's not only the favorite for a national title, but also a Hodge Trophy candidate.
No. 6 Nick Lee got revenge from an old high school foe in No. 19 Chad Red with a 5-4 decision. These two wrestled another great match, and it was a second period rideout from Red that really put this match in doubt. Red was able to lock up the riding time point in the third, but an escape from Lee ultimately won the match. Lee once again struggled to finish, and it nearly cost him the match. However, a win over a returning All-American is never something to sneeze at, and hopefully he can build from this.
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph was able to use his top game very well against No. 6 Isaiah White and win 2-0. White's athleticism and defense is just so tough to score on, but his offense still is not quite there to challenge Joseph. White never really got close to a takedown, and a second period ride out for Joseph was able to seal the win. Joseph's next big match will come against Logan Massa (Michigan) at the Bryce Jordan Center next month.
No. 1 Bo Nickal had his first non-bonus point victory of the season against No. 11 Eric Schultz. He ended up winning 8-6 in a match that was not as close as the score indicates. Nickal nearly had a cradle locked up in the first period, but Schultz was able to fight it off. Schultz was trailing 7-4 in the third period, but all of his points had come from escapes. Nickal shot for another takedown to widen the gap, but Schultz was able to counter double for a late takedown.
Mason Manville, a 165-pounder, wrestled for No. 3 Shakur Rasheed at 184 pounds to take on No. 5 Taylor Venz. Venz won 7-1, but Manville battled very tough despite giving up a lot of size. This was a one takedown match in the third period, but Manville was unable to secure a match tying takedown after a Venz counter. It was disappointing not to see Rasheed in this top five contest though.
No. 1 Mark Hall won 5-3 over No. 9 Mikey Labriola. This was a close matchup, but Hall just had too much for the redshirt freshman. Apart from the NCAA finals against Zahid Valencia last season, it's hard to remember when Hall has lost a scramble. He's been having an awesome season so far, and is really ramping himself up for another potential NCAA title.
Devin Schnupp lost to No. 13 Zeke Moisey in a tough 6-1 decision. Schnupp has really improved a lot in the last year, even though he still seems undersized for 125 pounds. It's also probably safe to say that Gavin Teasdale should not be expected to wrestle for Penn State this season. There's been a few opportunities for Teasdale since the Scuffle, and he has not been picked. That said, it's fun to watch Schnupp feed off the Rec Hall energy and battle his way against more skilled opponents. No matter if he ever wrestles in the NCAA Tournament, he's been fun as heck to watch.
No. 13 Roman Bravo-Young had the most emphatic win of the day against Jevon Perrish in a 20-7 major decision. He has an impressive top game, and is overwhelming his opponents regularly. Bravo-Young really looks to be getting back to his best since the Scuffle and has some major matchups coming in the next few weeks. He will have No. 1 Stevan Micic at the Bryce Jordan Center, and No. 5 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) in Columbus in the coming weeks.
No. 10 Brady Berge had a fairly comfortable 7-4 decision against Jordan Shearer. Berge has been wrestling a lot of close matches this season, and he has seemed to fade late in a number of them. It will be interesting to see how much better he can get by March. The dual ended with No. 4 Anthony Cassar crushing No. 14 David Jensen 10-4. Cassar is really just another breed at heavyweight and Jensen was really never able to get close to him on any takedown attempt. Cassar has an exceptional gas tank and really can just pile it on late against heavier opponents.
Penn State will be on the mat next weekend, where they will take on Indiana and Purdue, both away from Rec Hall.