Penn State is off for another week before it opens up its Big Ten schedule.
Story lines and questions still abound after the 23-19 win over Lehigh — the Nittany Lions’ closest match during the 35 dual winning streak — so let’s get straight to this week’s mailbag:
Will Nick Lee’s redshirt get pulled this season to replace (Jered) Cortez, or does Cortez have a long leash? — @jsk163, Twitter
Several weeks ago, I was asked if I would start Lee or keep him in a redshirt. My response was to keep the redshirt and use Lee as the next leader for the new Penn State wrestlers that will be coming in. Speculation swirled Sunday about Lee’s redshirt being pulled when he walked out with Zain Retherford during introductions. Some believed that the Nittany Lions were considering Lee going in at 149 and then Retherford and Jason Nolf bumping up weights. In the end, it didn’t happen — but Cortez didn’t have a very strong showing during his bout at Lehigh.
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Cortez was unable to score a point and struggled to get out from under Lehigh redshirt freshman Luke Karam. I’d have to think that the long leash that Cortez had might have gotten a bit shorter. He is 7-1 and has three bonus-point victories — two pins and a major decision — and won the Keystone Classic 141-pound title. Even though Lee is 7-2 and finished second and third, respectively, in other tournaments, he still brings more to the table because of all his bonus points. In those seven wins, he has five technical falls and two major decisions. Plus, his losses have come against Clarion’s Brock Zacherl, who is No. 10 in the country, and Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who is a two-time Cadet world champion and was a top-3 recruit in the country.
I would say if Lee continues the roll that he is on it would be hard to argue not to pull his redshirt with all the bonus-point victories he will have accumulated. The Southern Scuffle, which starts Jan. 1, could be a good indicator as to what happens. Should Lee come out and do well in the country’s toughest collegiate tournament, don’t be surprised to see his name at the 141-pound spot when Penn State travels to Michigan on Jan. 12.
Most impressive thus far: (Nick) Nevills beating No. 6 (Jacob) Kasper and No. 4 (Tanner) Hall or (Jason) Nolf pinning seven straight this year? — @Dunkej01, Twitter
This question was sent to me prior to the Lehigh match, but there were so many good ones that this one is getting answered now. Both achievements are equally impressive. I just can’t pick one over the other; I’m calling this a draw. But let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Nevills could be consider a smaller heavyweight, so he uses his athleticism to take advantage of what should be his disadvantage. The wins over Kasper and Hall will only help Nevills when it comes to seeding for the national tournament. Also, add his recent win over No. 14 Jordan Wood of Lehigh. If he goes on to add a win over Michigan’s Adam Coon, who is No. 2 in the country, it will only strengthen his tournament seedings. It might also keep him off the same side of the bracket as Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder, who — let’s face it — isn’t going to lose a collegiate match any time soon and will be the No. 1 seed come March. For Nolf, what more can you say about him? He is leaving it all on the mat and isn’t afraid to try new things. The willingness to try is what has allowed him to be even more versatile as a wrestler and allowed him to open the season with seven straight wins as pins. He was close to making it 8-for-8 against Lehigh’s Ian Brown but still managed to pull off a technical fall.
Why hasn’t Michael Beard signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) and what is the Division I deadline to sign? — @jsk163, Twitter
I actually reached out to Beard on this question. His response, “I’m signing next year around this time. I believe because I’m greyshirting first year.” So, if Beard is greyshirting — which means he’ll postpone his enrollment in classes until the second semester of his freshman year — that would be a reason why he wouldn’t yet sign. Beard did say that if he wasn’t going to greyshirt, he would’ve taken part in the early-signing period, which spanned from Nov. 8-15. The official signing period is from April 11, 2018, to August 1, 2018.
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