Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson talks Southern Scuffle
The first day of the Southern Scuffle was pretty special for Penn State on Tuesday in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Not only did the Nittany Lions advance 11 wrestlers to the semifinals, but some history was made, as well as the debut of one wrestler.
Roman Bravo-Young (133 pounds), Nick Lee (141), Brady Berge (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Pipher (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174), Shakur Rasheed (184), Bo Nickal (197), Anthony Cassar (285) and Nick Nevills (285) are all looking for one more win to reach the finals. Brody Teske (125), Jarod Verkleeren (149) and Mason Manville (165) each came up a round short of making the semifinals but remain alive in the consolations.
Penn State holds a 10-point lead over Oklahoma State in the team race. The Nittany Lions scored 121.5 points. They may have a shot of breaking the scoring record on Wednesday, which is 198 points. Iowa State and Lock Haven are tied for third with 60 points.
Seniors Nickal and Nolf were the history-makers. Redshirt freshman in Teske was the wrestler making his debut. A day after he was announced in the field, fellow redshirt freshman Gavin Teasdale was set to make his debut, too, but didn’t compete.
Nickal and Nolf cruised to the semifinals of their weight classes with bonus points the whole way. Nickal pinned his way through.
His third pin of the day over Navy’s Josh Roetman came in 1:47. It was Nickal’s 100th career win to just three losses. Of Nickal’s 100 wins, 48 of them are pins, so it was fitting.
Nolf tied the all-time Penn State pins mark in reaching the quarterfinals with his 52nd and 53rd falls. He opened with a fall in 1:21 over Stanford’s Jared Hill.
Nolf followed that up with a pin of Appalachian State’s William Formato in 4:01. He tied David Taylor, Zain Retherford and Josh Moore. To reach the semifinals, Nolf earned a 21-7 major decision over Oklahoma State’s Jonce Blaylock.
Teske, who wrestled unattached, showed that his wrestling is there in his debut but his day probably didn’t end like he would have. He dominated in his 6-3 opening win over Campbell’s Paxton Rosen.
In the second round, Teske took on a much bigger opponent in Ohio’s Shakur Laney. Teske earned a takedown with 39 seconds remaining to get by Laney 4-3. In the quarterfinals, Lock Haven’s Luke Werner had his way with Teske in a 15-0 technical fall in 5:33. According to Jeff Byers, he said there is a possibility that Teske may not wrestle on Wednesday, so maybe Teske got hurt in the loss to Werner.
Pipher was a huge surprise for Penn State with the run to the semifinals. He opened with a 16-0 technical fall over No. 3 seed Dan Reed of Columbia, who is ranked 14th nationally.
Pipher reached the semifinals with back-to-back 5-3 victories.
Of all the other semifinalists, Bravo-Young had the toughest time getting there. He didn’t seem like himself, and maybe the break had something to do with that.
The true freshman needed a takedown with 1:26 remaining in his opener to claim a 4-3 win over Stanford’s Dalton Young. In the second round, this time a takedown with 49 seconds remaining in Bravo-Young’s match gave him a 3-1 lead. He won the match 4-1 over Lehigh’s Nick Farro.
Bravo-Young needed a sudden-victory takedown for an 8-6 win over Virginia Tech’s Collin Gerardi in the quarterfinals.
Nittany Lions’ fans are one win away from seeing a Cassar and Nevills rematch from the Keystone Classic.
Cassar hit double leg after double leg on Iowa State’s Gannon Gremmel for a 16-5 major decision in the quarterfinals. Cassar seemed like he was playing linebacker for the football team.
Nevills dominated Drexel’s Joey Goodhart in a 7-1 win to reach the semifinals. Nevills picked up two stall points and amassed over two minutes of riding time on Goodhart.
Lee, Hall and Rasheed bonused their ways to the semifinals, too. Lee and Rasheed recorded three major decision victories with Hall collecting two technical falls and a major decision.
Joseph and Berge had some close encounters along with some bonus points. Joseph pinned his first two opponents before using a 6-4 decision to make the semifinals.
Berge sandwiched a major decision between two hard-fought decision wins on the way to the semifinals. He used a third-period escape to give himself some breathing room in a 4-2 win over Oklahoma State’s Dusty Hone in the tournament opener. In the quarterfinals, Berge earned a takedown of Navy’s Jared Prince with 25 seconds left to win 4-3.
Verkleeren and Manville both looked great on their way to the quarterfinals.
Manville collected a 12-3 major decision in his opener and followed with a 6-2 decision. He took on Lock Haven’s Chance Marsteller in the quarterfinals and looked poised to beat the All-American, but Marsteller hit a late single-leg takedown for a 4-2 win.
Verkleeren outscored his first two opponents 41-15 and got a tech fall and major decision in that order. In the quarterfinals, Verkleeren took on Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller, who won the 141-pound title at the Southern Scuffle last year. Gfeller’s first-period takedown was all he needed to top Verkleeren 3-2.
Devin Schnupp, Francisco Bisono and Dominic Giannangeli also competed for the Nittany Lions on Tuesday. Schnupp and Giannangeli were the only ones to pick up a win.
Schnupp’s victory came in his tournament opener against Drexel’s Antonio Mininno. Schnupp came out looking like he was proving himself as the 125-pound starter by earning a 13-5 major decision. However, in the next round he lost 17-0 to Northern Colorado’s Rico Montoya.
Schnupp was eliminated in his very next match with a 7-6 loss to Navy’ Aslan Kilic.
Giannangeli’s win came in the second round of the 141-pound consolations. He topped Connor Ward 7-2. Ward was competing for Arkansas-Little Rock, which is just starting a Division I program.
Port goes 0-2
Bellefonte graduate Brock Port competed for Lock Haven in the Southern Scuffle.
Port may not have liked the debut he had, though. The Red Raider alum went 0-2 and was eliminated.
Port was tied 2-2 with his 149-pound first-round opponent, The Citadel’s Selwyn Porter, just over halfway through the second period. Porter collected a takedown late in the period and Port escaped to trail 4-3 going to the final period.
Port escaped with 1:49 left in the match to tie it again. Porter tacked on another takedown and earned a riding-time point for a 7-5 win.
Port was then eliminated with a 4-1 loss to Rider’s Gary Dinmore.
Follow Nate Cobler on Twitter for Southern Scuffle updates and more