Four words is all he needed: “This is big time.”
That is how true freshman Nick Suriano described Penn State’s match with Iowa.
“This is not just another match,” Suriano said. “This is what you live for. You don’t shy from those matches, you live for those matches.”
That is also how Iowa coach Tom Brands described the match to reporters on Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
When the No. 2 Nittany Lions and No. 3 Hawkeyes tangle at 9 p.m. Friday night, fans in the stands of Carver-Hawkeye Arena and fans watching around the country on the Big Ten Network are in for a show.
“I was a sophomore in high school,” Brands said. “I went to a camp and there was some coaches at that camp that coached college and they were repeatedly saying that wrestling is being ruined by Dan Gable. Now, you hear that argument that Penn State is making wrestling boring. Ask (Oklahoma State coach) John Smith what he thinks about that.
“Actually it’s good for wrestling. It’s a barometer. You know they are going to have guys that wrestle hard or whatever. We want to do that to and we have guys that wrestle hard.”
The matchup will start with four of the first five bouts pitting ranked wrestler against ranked wrestler. Three of those matches will include wrestlers in the top three of their weight classes. Two of those matches feature undefeated records on the line for both wrestlers in the bout.
The match is almost certain to begin at 125 pounds with No. 3 Suriano matching up with No. 1 Thomas Gilman, both of whom are undefeated. At 141 pounds, No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon gets No. 18 Topher Carton.
No. 1 Zain Retherford gets a rematch with No. 2 Brandon Sorensen at 149 pounds. Retherford won both matches last year the Big Ten finals (4-0) and the NCAA finals (10-1).
Following that match, is a matchup of No. 1 and No. 2 again. Jason Nolf (12-0) puts his undefeated mark on the line against Michael Kemerer’s (19-0) mark.
“I think that’s going to happen when you have two top teams battling,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “If you want to be a national champion, you got to beat everyone in the weight class. I think that should be exciting for them and exciting for us.”
After the break, fans will get to see three more matches with more ranked wrestlers squaring off with one another.
No. 14 Geno Morelli, assuming he starts at 174 pounds, will face No. 13 Alex Meyer.
At 184 pounds, two wrestlers in the top five square off with No. 2 Bo Nickal and No. 5 Sammy Brooks.
The match could come down to the big guys at 285, where No. 5 Nick Nevills squares off with another No. 8 in Sam Stoll.
“We are excited,” Sanderson said. “This week will be a fun match. Iowa has a great program and a great fan base.”
Notes: Iowa comes into the match after suffering a 24-11 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma State last Sunday. … There will be a total of 18 ranked wrestlers on the mat Friday night.
125: Gillman by decision; 133: Clark by major decision; 141: Gulibon by decision; 149: Retherford by decision; 157: Nolf by decision; 165: Vincenzo Joseph by technical fall; 174: Meyer by decision; 184: Nickal by major decision; 197: Matt McCutcheon by decision; 285: Nevills by decision. Final score: PSU 24, Iowa 10
Cortez still out
Sanderson was asked for an update on Jered Cortez, who has been out since the Lehigh match.
It didn’t sound promising.
“I don’t think he is going to wrestle on Friday,” Sanderson said. “We will see. There is a small chance but most likely not.”
If plans go like Sanderson said, that means Geroge Carpenter will likely get his fifth start in a row. He will have a tall task as he will square off with No. 3 Cory Clark.
Clark is the NCAA runner-up at 133 pounds after falling to Cornell’s Nashon Garrett last season.
“I’m real grateful for the opportunity,” Carpenter said. “I’m just going to take advantage of it and have some fun.”
Going through the ranks
At the top: Retherford (149) and Nolf (157)
Moving up: McCutcheon by one to No. 10 at 197
Staying put: Suriano (No. 3, 125), Cortez (No. 13, 133), Gulibon (No. 12, 141), Joseph (No. 4, 165), Morelli (No. 14, 174), Nickal (No. 2, 184) and Nevills (No. 5, 285)
No. 2 Penn State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at No. 3 Iowa (7-1, 3-0)
When: 9 p.m., Friday
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Radio: WRSC 1390
TV: Big Ten Network (55)
No. 3 Nick Suriano (11-0)
No. 1 Thomas Gilman (17-0)
No. 13 Jered Cortez (6-2)
OR George Carpenter (1-7)
No. 3 Cory Clark (9-1)
No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon (7-6)
OR Kade Moss (5-2)
No. 18 Topher Carton (17-3)
No. 1 Zain Retherford (12-0)
No. 3 Brandon Sorensen (17-1)
No. 1 Jason Nolf (12-0)
No. 2 Michael Kemerer (19-0)
No. 4 Vincenzo Joseph (10-1)
Joey Gunther (12-3)
OR Skyler St. John (5-3)
No. 14 Geno Morelli (10-1)
OR Shakur Rasheed (5-1)
No. 13 Alex Meyer (14-4)
No. 2 Bo Nickal (11-0)
No. 5 Sammy Brooks (16-1)
No. 11 Matt McCutcheon (9-2)
Cash Wilcke (11-5)
No. 5 Nick Nevills (11-0)
No. 8 Sam Stoll (7-2)