Penn State Wrestling

Penn State wrestling claims 7 champs on way to Keystone Classic crown

Penn State’s Bo Nickal controls Harvard’s Kanan Dean in their 184-pound second-round match of the Keystone Classic on Sunday. Nickal earned a 24-9 technical fall over Dean in 6:07 and went on to claim the 184-pound crown.
Penn State’s Bo Nickal controls Harvard’s Kanan Dean in their 184-pound second-round match of the Keystone Classic on Sunday. Nickal earned a 24-9 technical fall over Dean in 6:07 and went on to claim the 184-pound crown. For the Centre Daily Times

Penn State wrestling kept its dominance rolling this weekend as it cruised to the team title at the Keystone Classic inside the Palestra.

The Nittany Lions accumulated 190.5 team points Sunday with seven champions and nine total place-winners. Northwestern finished second in the team race with 156.5 points, and Rider was third with 138 points.

The seven who worked their way to the top of the podium for their respective weight classes included Jered Cortez (141 pounds), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184), Anthony Cassar (197) and Nick Nevills (285).

As a whole, Penn State finished the day with 29 bonus-point victories — 18 pins, five technical falls and six major decisions.

Nolf, Hall and Nickal cruised to their titles with a combined 10 pins and three technical falls.

Nolf had four pins to keep a perfect pin-to-win ratio of seven wins and seven pins. His last one of the day, which was in the finals, took the longest in 5:39.

Hall took just 50 seconds to pin his finals opponent in Harvard’s Josef Johnson. The Nittany Lion finished with three pins and two technical falls.

Nickal wrestled a total of 8 minutes, 12 seconds. He bested Hall’s fall time by two seconds in his 184-pound final with Northwestern’s Mitch Sliga. Nickal finished with three pins and a technical fall.

All of Retherford’s victories on the day came with bonus points, too. He pinned his way into the finals and collected his 100th career win in the second round. In the finals, Retherford used a five-point third period for a 10-2 major decision win over Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin — his 70th straight win. His last loss came to Bellefonte native Mitchell Port in the NCAA Championships in 2014.

Cortez needed a late takedown over Rider’s Tyson Dippery to claim the 141-pound crown, 4-3. Cortez opened the day with two straight pins before picking up a decision in the semfinals.

Nevills used a 13-3 major decision and a fall in 1:40 to reach the quarterfinals. He went on to decision his way through to the crown. In the finals, Nevills got a rematch with Duke’s Jacob Kasper, whom he beat in the fifth-place match at the NCAA Championships last year. Nevills used a 2-on-1 tilt to collect two near-fall points, and that’s all he needed in a 3-1 win.

Cassar breezed into the semifinals, outscoring his opponents 24-9. In the semis, he took on teammate Matt McCutcheon and used a last-second takedown to overcome a penalty point in a 6-5 win. In the finals, Cassar snapped off two third-period takedowns for an 8-4 win over Pennsylvania’s Frank Mattice.

McCutcheon went on to finish fourth after having to injury default to Drexel’s Stephen Loiseau in the consolation finals. He wasn’t the only one to get bitten by the injury bug.

Corey Keener looked as if he was well on his way to the 133-pound title after opening the tournament with a pin in 1:03. He used a 5-2 decision to move into the semifinals, where he medical forfeited — ending his day. Keener still placed sixth. Vincenzo Joseph also did not compete and was left off the tournament brackets, and Penn State declined to comment on his status.

The Nittany Lions had nine other wrestlers competing on Sunday.

Devin Schnupp, who is the 125-pound starter, earned his first win in a Nittany Lion singlet in the second round of consolations. George Carpenter and Dominic Giannangeli each reached the 133-pound quarterfinals before suffering two straight losses.

Luke Gardner earned an upset over No. 7-seed Gavin Landoff of Appalachian State at 149 pounds but finished 2-2 on the day. Also competing at 149 pounds was Bo Pipher, who went 0-2 on the day.

Brian Friery (157) and Francisco Bisono (174) each went 1-2 at their respective weight classes. Devon Van Cura finished 2-2 at 184 pounds, and Alex Nichols went 0-1 at 285 pounds and had to medical forfeit out of the tournament.

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