Penn State Wrestling

Jered Cortez cracks rankings to bring Penn State’s total to 9 ranked wrestlers

Penn State is positioned well as it heads into the later part of the wrestling season — with nine of its 10 starters ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight classes.

Junior Jered Cortez (141) made his season debut in the InterMat NCAA Division I rankings on Tuesday after Sunday’s 6-5 decision over then-No.12 Cole Weaver of Indiana.

The win vaulted Cortez to No. 15, where he sits between Weaver at 16 and Lehigh’s Luke Karam, to whom he lost 2-0.

The NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Poll, regularly released on Tuesdays, will release its updated team rankings Wednesday morning due to a number of ranked contests on Monday.

Cortez said earlier in the season that rankings don’t mean much to him.

“I put my shoes on the same way everyone else does, and it’s all about who shows up on that given day,” he said.

But individual rankings do matter when it comes to seedings for the NCAA and conference championships at the end of the season.

The 141 weight class, led by Oklahoma State’s two-time national champ Dean Heil, is relatively open in the Big Ten.

If the conference championship were to be held today, Cortez would likely get the No. 4 seed, behind Ohio State’s Joey McKenna, Nebraska freshman Chad Red and Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn. He’ll get a shot at both Thorn and McKenna during the regular dual season.

Cortez will also get a chance to improve his status at the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2, where he could get another shot at Karam and face No. 7 Josh Alber of Northern Iowa, who leads the tournament’s 141-pound field.

Another Nittany Lion who moved up in the ranks this week is 133-pounder Corey Keener. The senior transfer moved back up to No. 17 after a solid 11-3 major decision over Indiana’s Garrett Pepple.

The rest of the Nittany Lions maintained their ranks with Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Bo Nickal at No. 1 at 149, 157, 165 and 184, respectively. Mark Hall is ranked No. 2 at 174, Nick Nevills No. 3 at heavyweight, and Anthony Cassar is No. 9 at 197.