Penn State Wrestling

No. 2 Penn State has tough task with rising No. 11 Rutgers up next

Penn State’s Jason Nolf, left, is one of four Nittany Lion wrestlers who will have a matchup with another ranked wrestler on Friday against Rutgers. Nolf will face No. 16 John Van Brill, who has three wins over top-10 opponents.
Penn State’s Jason Nolf, left, is one of four Nittany Lion wrestlers who will have a matchup with another ranked wrestler on Friday against Rutgers. Nolf will face No. 16 John Van Brill, who has three wins over top-10 opponents. Centre Daily Times, file

Everyone has heard the saying “no rest for the weary.”

Some know the meaning behind it, others don’t.

If you were to Google it, the answer you’d get is “one’s heavy workload or lack of tranquility is due to one’s own choices.”

Penn State doesn’t have a choice in who it wrestles or when with the Big Ten schedule. The Nittany Lions just go out do their thing and it ends in a win. Sometimes they make it look easy and other times they have to work for it.

Last weekend, Penn State took out then-No. 13 Minnesota and No. 7 Nebraska on the road.

“I think overall the team wrestled well,” coach Cael Sanderson said on Tuesday during media day. “We had two tough opponents on the road. Two pretty darned good teams. We lost a few matches we thought we could win. We think we can get back if we meet again. I’m sure they feel the same way. That’s sports. We are encouraged. It was a good road trip for us.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Nittany Lions on Friday night when they welcome No. 11 Rutgers into Rec Hall. The dual has a 7 p.m. start and will be shown on the Big Ten Network.

The Scarlet Knights have a 7-1 record, with their only loss at the end of November against No. 7 Cornell in the Grapple at the Garden. They survived a 19-17 nail-biter with Illinois last weekend.

“Scott Goodale has done a great job and they continue to improve,” Sanderson said of his opponents. “They’ve got a lot of really good kids. It will be a good match. They are tough kids and compete hard, so we are looking forward to the match.”

Rutgers’ program has really been on the rise since joining the Big Ten in 2014. All 10 Scarlet Knight starters qualified for the NCAA championships last season, although only two reached All-American status in Anthony Ashnault (4th, 141) and Anthony Perrotti (8th, 165). Sanderson feels the conference move has benefited the Scarlet Knights tremendously.

“They can stop improving any time now we would be fine with that,” Sanderson said with a laugh. “They’re one of the few programs in the state of (New) Jersey. Jersey is one of the best states in the country (for wrestling) and right next to Pennsylvania and New York so they have a lot of things going for them. Being in the Big Ten, certainly wouldn’t hurt, I don’t think.”

A lot of eyes will be on Ashnault’s match with a struggling Jimmy Gulibon. The pair have squared off just once before, in the Big Ten finals last season. Ashnault shut out Gulibon 9-0 to capture the 141-pound crown.

The Scarlet Knights, 0-19 all-time against Penn State, have several other talented wrestlers. However, it seems like they are matched up with the best the Nittany Lions have.

Following the Ashnault-Gulibon match, there could be a battle of ranked wrestlers in No. 14 Ken Theobold and No. 1 Zain Retherford. Following that one would be No. 16 John Van Brill and No. 1 Jason Nolf. Van Brill made his debut in the lineup this season and has three wins over top-10 opponents. At 184, it will No. 14 Nicholas Gravina against No. 2 Bo Nickal.

“That’s just part of a dual meet,” Sanderson said. “We talk about dual meets and they are subject to individual matchups and that’s random. That’s a reason, I think dual meets is not how you can figure out which team is the best team in the country.

“We might match up with them in a tough way. It’s sports, anything can happen on any given day. We have to be ready to wrestle. We’ll find out if we are on Friday.”

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt

No. 11 Rutgers (7-1, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 2-0)

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Rec Hall

Radio: WRSC 1390

TV: Big Ten Network (55)

Scarlet Knights

vs.

Nittany Lions

Brandon Paetzell (10-3)

vs.

No. 3 Nick Suriano (10-0)

Scott DelVecchio (13-6)

vs.

No. 13 Jered Cortez (6-2)

OR George Carpenter (1-6)

No. 6 Anthony Ashnault (15-3)

vs.

No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon (7-5)

OR Kade Moss (5-2)

No. 14 Ken Theobold

OR Anthony Giraldo (15-6)

vs.

No. 1 Zain Retherford (11-0)

No. 16 John Van Brill (15-6)

vs.

No. 1 Jason Nolf (11-0)

Willie Scott (12-6)

vs.

No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (9-1)

Phillip Bakuckas (10-4)

OR Jordan Pagano (16-6)

vs.

No. 14 Geno Morelli (9-1)

OR Shakur Rasheed (5-1)

No. 14 Nicholas Gravina (12-3)

vs.

No. 2 Bo Nickal (10-0)

Matthew Correnti (9-6)

vs.

No. 11 Matt McCutcheon (8-2)

Razohnn Gross (6-6)

vs.

No. 5 Nick Nevills (10-0)

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