Before Penn State entered the Southern Scuffle, it was pretty set at 197 pounds for a starter with sophomore Anthony Cassar.
But junior Shakur Rasheed might have thrown a wrench into things.
Rasheed, who was one of six Nittany Lions champions, rattled off pins in the semifinals and finals on Tuesday. Penn State took the team crown again for the seventh time in eight years with 197 team points — a school record and was one point shy of tying Oklahoma State’s record of 198 points set last year.
Zain Retherford (149 pounds), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184) were the others to claim titles.
The Nittany Lions went 6-1 in the finals with five of the wins coming with bonus points.
The unseeded Rasheed wrestled a total of 87 seconds on Tuesday and earned the Outstanding Wrestler award. Hall captured that title last year competing unattached.
In the finals, Rasheed captured the first — and only — takedown of the match against No. 5 Jacob Holschlag, of Northern Iowa. He reached across Holschlag’s face and locked up a crossface cradle. He took a second to readjust his grip and then rolled Holschlag to his back for the fall in 46 seconds. Rasheed pinned No. 2 Matt Williams from Cal State Bakersfield — again with a crossface cradle — in the semifinals.
Rasheed finished 5-0 with three pins and two major decisions.
Retherford and Nolf continued their dominate ways by earning pins in their finals matchups.
Retherford led 7-2 after one period with three takedowns and a stall point from Campbell’s Josh Heil. In the second period, he kept grinding on the ground and eventually worked his way into a 4:39 fall of Heil.
Nolf seemed like a predator playing with his prey in Duke’s Mitch Finesilver. The two hand fought for the first few seconds. Nolf threw a massive headlock, squeezed Finesilver like a boa and earned the fall in 51 seconds.
Nickal and Joseph tallied the other bonus-point finals wins with major decisions. Nickal racked up four takedowns on Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster for the 10-2 win. Joseph had to work for his 8-0 win over Northern Iowa’s Bryce Steiert with two takedowns and two near-fall points in the third.
Hall used a first period takedown, a second period escape and collected 2:31 in riding time for the 4-0 win over Lehigh’s Jordan Kutler. It was the second time Hall has beaten Kutler this year.
Nick Lee (141), who competed unattached, was the only Nittany Lions wrestler to fall in the finals. He was tied 7-7 with Kaden Gfeller, who was competing unattached for Oklahoma State, in the second period. Gfeller came out on top of a scramble situation and caught Lee on his back. Lee fought for almost over a minute before giving up the fall in 4:50.
Cassar (197) was the next highest finisher for Penn State outside of the finalists. The sophomore, who came up just short of completing an all-Nittany Lions final, responded from a semifinals overtime loss with a 4-1 win over Drexel’s Stephen Loiseau to place third.
Nick Nevills (285) suffered a 2-0 loss to Stanford’s Nathan Butler to finish fourth. Jarod Verkleeren (149), who also wrestled unattached, was the only other Penn State wrestler on the podium with a seventh-place finish.
The Nittany Lions outpaced Northern Iowa by 70 points in the team race. Lehigh finished in third with 102 points. They were the only three schools to score over 100 points. Navy (87) and Duke (80) rounded out the top five.
As Penn State prepares for the toughest stretch of its season — six duals, four of them on the road, in a month — it also has a few tough questions to answer: Is it time to pull Lee’s redshirt, and does Rasheed get a shot at the 197 starting spot?