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No. 1 Penn State Wrestling Caps Off Undefeated Season With Buffalo Pin Party

by on February 24, 2019 4:15 PM

No. 1 Penn State wrestling capped off yet another undefeated season and extended its dual winning streak to 59 with a 47-3 beatdown against Buffalo Sunday.

After losing the first bout, the Nittany Lions won nine in a row, recording five pins in the process. Seniors Jason Nolf, Shakur Rasheed, and Bo Nickal all left Rec Hall for the final time on Senior Day with falls, perhaps the most fitting way for the trio, which has combined for 141 pins.

How It Happened

Justin Lopez got the start at 125 lbs. over Devin Schnupp but didn’t quite solve the Nittany Lions’ lower weight issues. After a scoreless first period, Buffalo’s Kyle Akins reversed Lopez to go up 2-0. He rode Lopez out for the remainder of the second period, took him down midway through the third, and added more than two minutes of riding time to win 5-0.

After missing both of last weekend’s duals while attending a funeral, No. 11 Roman Bravo-Young got things going for Penn State at 133 lbs. He set the tone early by taking Derek Spann down seconds into the bout and adding four more en route to a 14-5 win. A scramble at the end of the third period sent Spann to his back, but Bravo-Young lost control of him before he was able record the pin. 

Bravo-Young’s win gave the Nittany Lions a 4-3 advantage, a lead they’d hang onto for the remainder of the dual.

Buffalo opted to forfeit at 141 lbs. instead of wrestling No. 15 Bryce Lantry against No. 2 Nick Lee. The forfeit extended Penn State’s lead to 10-3. 

No. 11 Brady Berge got the start at 149 lbs. over Jarod Verkleeren in the final dual of the season and appeared to assert himself as Cael Sanderson’s guy entering the postseason. Berge led Jason Estevez 3-1 at the start of the third period but made an attempt at a major decision with a flurry of takedowns in the final two minutes. He ended up settling for a 11-4 that made the deficit 13-3.

No. 1 Jason Nolf put the finishing touches on a dazzling, undefeated Rec Hall career when he pinned Kyle Todrank in the third period at 157 lbs. Nolf got to work quickly, scoring four takedowns and logging 1:30 of riding time in the first period. Leading 8-3 to start the second period, Nolf went for the fall but ended up recording four bonus points before letting Todrank up. 

Finally, in the third period, after dealing with Todrank’s gimmicks for nearly six minutes, Nolf tossed him to his back for the 58th pin of his career. He left the mat to a standing ovation and was carried out of the gym Mark Hall. 

In the build-up to Nolf’s pin, Todrank had reversed Nolf and shoved him, much to the dismay of the Rec Hall crowd. Unfortunately for Todrank, no one ever told him not to poke a bear. In an effortless sequence by Nolf, the Bulls’ 157-pounder ended up on his back with more than 6,000 fans on their feet. The fall ran the Nittany Lions’ lead to 19-3 entering intermission.

 

Nolf’s pin was the first of five straight by the Nittany Lions. The next four wrestlers all recorded first period pins in a span of ten minutes in real time. Even more impressively, all three came in less than six minutes of wrestling.

Wrestling resumed at 165 lbs. with No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph pinning Noah Grover in a hurry with a first-period cradle. No. 1 Mark Hall made it three in a row with a first period fall of his own against Jake Lanning before No. 2 Shakur Rasheed made the team score 37-3 with another quick fall over Logan Rill.

After Rasheed’s pin, No. 1 Bo Nickal took the mat for the final time at Rec Hall, having never lost at home. He also needed less than a period to pin his opponent, sending Brett Perry to his back in 1:19 to complete the royal flush and make it five in a row for the Nittany Lions.

With the pin, Nickal became the fifth Nittany Lion to finish the 2018-19 regular season undefeated. Like Nolf, he was fittingly carried off the mat by Hall.

 

The dual ended at 285 lbs. with No. 3 Anthony Cassar meeting Sam Schuyler, wrestling in place of No. 15 Jake Gunning. Believe it or not, Cassar actually needed more than a period to win — although he nearly pinned Schuyler, normally a 184/197-pounder, at the buzzer. 

Cassar led Schuyler 8-3 after two periods but managed to run his lead to 16-5 with three late takedowns to win by major decision. He had a total of seven in the win.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions now enter the postseason where they’ll next compete in the Big Ten Championships at the University of Minnesota on March 9 and 10. After the conference tournament, the team’s qualifiers will enter the NCAA Championships at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh from March 21-23.



Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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