If Penn State wanted to get its first weekend sweep of 2017, it had to work for it.
The No. 2 Nittany Lions dropped two of the first three bouts but responded nicely with five straight wins in a 27-14 victory over No. 7 Nebraska inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
“We knew coming in that (Nebraska) was one of the best teams in the country,’’ assistant head coach Cody Sanderson said to the Penn State Sports Network. “They’ve got a lot of scrappy guys. They were here today for us so it was exactly what we expected and it’s also exactly what we wanted. … (They were) good individual bouts for us, those guys coming out swinging at us. That’s what we need to get ready.”
The match started at 125 pounds with No. 3 Nick Suriano matching up with No. 5 Tim Lambert. Suriano used a second-period takedown in order to earn a 3-2 victory. It was a successful weekend for Suriano in his Big Ten debut. Suriano beat Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak, who was fresh off a Southern Scuffle title, on Friday.
“He’s finding a way to beat tough opponents,” Sanderson said. “I think sometimes people forget we got a true freshman out in their in that lineup.”
The Cornhuskers got two of their three wins in the next two bouts.
No. 3 Eric Montoya breezed to a 17-1 technical fall over George Carpenter in 5:56. No. 13 Colton McCrystal used three first-period takedowns to get ahead of No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon early. In the end, McCrystal won 11-5 and Nebraska led 8-3.
Penn State didn’t stay down for long. Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf each earned major decisions to put the Nittany Lions back out front for good. Retherford was a 19-6 winner, while Nolf won 15-7 over No. 3 Tyler Berger.
No. 5 Vincenzo Joseph earned the third straight major decision win for the Nittany Lions. He tallied five takedowns in a 20-7 win over Dustin Williams.
Geno Morelli and Bo Nickal finished off the Penn State rally with decision victories. Morelli earned a 2-1 win thanks to a riding-time point.
No. 2 Nickal squared off with 184-pound NCAA runner-up in T.J. Dudley. Nickal, who is a runner-up himself, used four takedowns to top the No. 3 wrestler in the country 11-5. The Nittany Lions led 21-8 and the match was secured.
Matt McCutcheon trailed 2-1 to No. 7 Aaron Studebaker with about 1:30 left in their 197-pound match. Studebaker came out on top of a scramble and locked in split scissors and pinned McCutcheon in 6:01.
Nick Nevills, who was coming off a victory over No. 8 Michael Kroells, capped the dual off with a pin of No. 15 Colin Jensen in 6:01.
“We like to see that,” Sanderson said about Nevills. “Coach Cael said before the match, ‘Make some mistakes out there. Take some risks.’ Well, he (Nevills) took some risks and got the fall for it, so it’s good to see when those guys are listening.”