If you’ve followed Penn State wrestling over the last few seasons, you know the Nittany Lions pretty much outmatch Big Ten teams that don’t have a strong tradition.
In those matches, you sometimes get to see new faces in the lineup.
In No. 2 Penn State’s 45-3 win over Northwestern on Sunday, fans got to cheer on Caleb Livingston at 165 pounds.
It was the first time Livingston wrestled in a Nittany Lions’ dual inside Rec Hall.
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“Wrestling in front of Rec Hall has always been a dream of mine,” the graduate student said, “since I started on the team four and a half years ago. The atmosphere was awesome.”
Livingston didn’t disappoint the 6,630 fans in attendance.
He came out scoring a takedown and quickly gave up a reversal to Anthony Petrone — the only points Petrone scored. Livingston hit a reversal and threw in some legs.
He worked on a power half and collected four near-fall points. He then settled back into the power half for another turn and this time stuck Petrone to the mat in 2:19.
“That’s a move I’ve got (to) credit Zain (Retherford) with for showing me,” Livingston said. “I learned it because he hit it on me about three or four times in one match and pinned me with it. We worked on it about two weeks ago and when I got on top of him (Petrone), I felt his arm extend and I knew that move was there and went for it.”
With the win, Livingston was named the Ridge Reilly award winner, which is given to the outstanding wrestler of a home dual. On Sunday, the award was given out by the family of James Vollrath, who recently lost his battle with a rare form of cancer in December 2016.
Livingston said he was told that Vollrath claimed the Ridge Reilly award in his last match with a pin. Vollrath’s last dual match also came against Northwestern on Jan. 19, 2014, and he pinned Ben Sullivan in 4:01.
“For me that was pretty special,” Livingston said of winning the award. “He (Vollrath) was a good friend of mine and wrestling partner. It really meant a lot to me that we had very similar circumstances and I was able to win the award as well as him.”
Livingston’s pin was one of three on the day.
Nick Suriano started the dual off with a fall in 3:10 at 125 pounds and Jason Nolf stuck Sullivan in 3:39 at 157 pounds as Penn State led 29-3 at the break.
The Nittany Lions also received two forfeits on the day to Retherford (149 pound) and Mark Hall (174). Retherford’s forfeit win came as Northwestern’s Shayne Oster got hurt on Friday night in its match with Indiana. Retherford’s win was his 50th consecutive.
“We had a match on Friday night and our 149-pounder was injured,” Wildcats coach Matt Storniolo said. “And our redshirts were on the road in an open tournament, so it wasn’t an option to pull anybody out of redshirt and we (had) two competitors who didn’t pass skin checks. We had one backup at one of those weights to put out there at 165, but we didn’t have anybody at 174.”
Northwestern’s Jason Ipsarides used a late reversal to top George Carpenter 4-3 at 133 pounds for his team’s lone win.
Jimmy Gulibon and Bo Nickal earned the only other bonus-point wins for Penn State.
Gulibon scored 10 points in the first period of his match with Alec McKenna. He went on to earn a 20-5 technical fall in 5:25. Nickal used a seven-point third period to rack up a 10-1 major decision over Mitch Sliga in the only match between ranked wrestlers.
Matt McCutcheon and Nick Nevills had back-to-back decision victories to close out the dual. McCutcheon topped Jake Berkowitz 10-3 and Nevills needed a riding point to top Conan Jennings 5-4.
“I think effort was good for the most part,” Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson said. “You’re always looking to improve obviously. All things considered you are in Wisconsin two days ago and we get back in time to get off the bus and right into practice last night. Overall, we looked good.”