Penn State Wrestling

Bo Nickal’s ‘secret move’ highlights No. 2 Penn State’s rout of No. 11 Rutgers

Penn State’s Bo Nickal celebrates after pinning Rutgers’ Nicholas Gravina in their 184-pound bout during the Nittany Lions’ 37-6 victory on Friday, Jan 13, 2017 at Rec Hall.
Penn State’s Bo Nickal celebrates after pinning Rutgers’ Nicholas Gravina in their 184-pound bout during the Nittany Lions’ 37-6 victory on Friday, Jan 13, 2017 at Rec Hall.

Another ranked team came into Rec Hall, and another ranked team left like all the others — with a big loss.

No. 2 Penn State’s victim this time was No. 11 Rutgers in a 37-6 win in front of 6,606 people on Friday night.

“It was a fun match,” Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson said. “I think the fans had a good time. When they (Rutgers) come after you like they did, it makes it fun for everyone. They wrestled the whole match with that same fire so I thought they did a nice job.”

Penn State fans got to see a lot of action both negative and positive.

The biggest positive came during Bo Nickal’s match with No. 14 Nicholas Gravina. Gravina came out and clubbed Nickal over the neck looking to set a tone at the beginning of the match. It quickly drew a stop in the match from referee Jim Rivello.

Nickal didn’t give into the pressure.

The redshirt sophomore stuck to his gameplan and tallied a takedown at the buzzer in the first period. In the second period, Nickal released the “secret move” that he and Zain Retherford had created.

“We kind of collaborated on that one a little bit,” Nickal said. “We’ve been working on it for about a year and a half now. I’ve been waiting to bust it out.”

On the top to start the period, Gravina looked to try and hook up a merkle. Nickal locked up Gravina’s right leg, shifted his weight, threw Gravina over his shoulder, and pinned him in 4:27.

“Bo Nickal has a feel for every single position,” Scarlet Knighs coach Scott Goodale said. “(Gravina) got out of position and (Nickal) went head hunting and scored a fall. Good for him. That kid’s tough. If you’re going to lose, go down swinging with your best stuff. Don’t do things you shouldn’t be doing. Our kid throws a merkle He doesn’t throw a merkle.”

Nickal’s victory locked the match up at 29-6 with two matches to go.

Penn State fans saw some negative at the beginning of the match, though.

After Nick Suriano began with a 16-2 major decision, the Scarlet Knights won the next two matches and led 6-4.

However, like all the other matches, the Nittany Lions’ hammers came up.

“When you have Zain (Retherford) coming up, that’s a confidence booster,” Sanderson said, sitting beside Nickal and Nick Nevills. “And then (Jason) Nolf and this group of guys. We lost a couple matches early but sometimes it just depends where the matchups are. That is the dual meet aspect. It’s just how you randomly draw and match up with your opposing team.”

Retherford led No. 14 Ken Theobold 13-3 before sticking Theobold on his back in 5:33. Penn State led 10-6, and it was all over from there.

Nolf and Vincenzo Joseph strung together back-to-back technical falls. Nolf’s 22-4 win came over No. 16 John Van Brill in 4:09, while Joseph earned a 19-3 win over Willie Scott in 4:55.

Geno Morelli picked up a 5-3 win over Phillips Bakuckas. Twice in the match, reviews came into play for back points for Bakuckas. Each time it came back in Morelli’s favor.

Following Nickal’s triumph, Matt McCutcheon earned a 4-3 win over Matthew Correnti. Nevills put an exclamation point on the match with a 24-9 technical fall over Ralphy Normandia in 6:57. It was the sixth bonus point victory of the night.

“We got overwhelmed in a lot of matches and gave up a lot of bonus points,” Goodale said. “We didn’t really compete. I think we came here with the mindset that we wanted to compete, but the reality is you get against a certain animal and you have to match his intensity.

“In a lot of cases, we didn’t do that. We were outmatched at a lot of weights, but you have to fight, and fight hard, if you want to perform up to your standards.”

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt