Penn State wrestlers make it look easy against No. 10 Illinois
That’s how many duals Penn State has won consecutively.
Win No. 30 came on Sunday during Senior Day, as the Nittany Lions (13-0, 9-0 Big Ten) torched all-time great Kerry McCoy and his Maryland team 45-6 in front of 6,661 fans — a Rec Hall record this season.
The win also clinched Penn State’s second straight Big Ten regular season championship.
“They’re really good,” McCoy said of his alma mater. “You sit there and it’s boom, boom, boom. I told people, as an alum it’s awesome to see, but as competition it’s really tough to get up when you battle them. They do a great job here and it’s really nice for the sport of wrestling to see that.”
McCoy was able to claim something that not most coaches were able to this season. His team led the Nittany Lions for a short period of time.
Following a 23-8 technical fall from Nick Suriano, the Terrapins (2-14, 0-9 Big Ten) received a pin from their lone senior Billy Rappo.
Rappo was in a scramble with Triston Law, who was making his second Penn State start. Rappo caught Law and pinned him from the neutral position in 4:45 to give Maryland a 6-5 lead.
Nittany Lion senior Jimmy Gulibon, who was one of four honored on Senior Day, started a streak of eight consecutive wins.
Gulibon used three takedowns, two escapes and a riding-time point to cap his final Rec Hall match 9-4 over Ryan Diehl.
“It’s been a great five years,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s kind of weird. It really hasn’t sunk in yet that this is my last match. It was fun.”
After that, Penn State started a pin parade.
Zain Retherford pinned Adam Whitesell in 3:17. Retherford led 13-2 at the time before catching Whitesell and sticking him.
Jason Nolf caught Justin Alexander in the same manner Retherford did. Alexander was trying to roll through after a takedown from Nolf, who captured both of Alexander’s arms and stuck him in 1:27.
Vincenzo Joseph built a 12-3 lead on Patrick Gerish early in the second period. Joseph locked in a cross-face cradle rolled on back and had the pin in 3:58.
Mark Hall and Bo Nickal combined to wrestle just over one period in their pin victories. Hall locked up a far-side cradle of Josh Ugalde and won in 1:14. Nickal, after his third takedown in the first period, caught Idris White with his right arm up in the air. He got under it and tossed him, and it was over in 2:08.
The Nittany Lions lead went from 8-6 to 38-6.
“It’s a fun stretch there,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “We had five falls in a row? That’s great, we’ll take that every time. Those guys are looking for falls. They wrestled aggressively and moved forward. That’s what it takes to get those bonus points.”
Matt McCutcheon got a hard-fought 5-3 win at 197 pounds. Nick Nevills closed the dual out with a 10-1 major decision with 5:26 in riding time.
The Nittany Lions have one dual left when they face Oklahoma State on the road Sunday in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Dual Championship Series. Penn State and the Cowboys will tangle in the championship dual for the second straight year of the event.
The Nittany Lions won last year’s title 29-18 inside Rec Hall.
Now, they will have to go into the unfriendly confides of Gallagher-Iba Arena to try to finish their second straight season without a loss.
“It feels good,” Sanderson said of winning the Big Ten title. “It’s a big deal. This was a big dual season for us. I think we had some big matches on the road. Our guys did a great job and went in and competed well. We’re happy. We want to win that dual team championship. It’s important to us.”