Penn State Wrestling

Penn State wrestling remains No. 1 in first coaches poll of 2018

Penn State’s Bo Nickal looks for a takedown on North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan during their 184-pound semifinal match during the Southern Scuffle on Tuesday. Nickal topped Reenan with a 12-4 major decision and won the title with another major decision (10-2).
Penn State’s Bo Nickal looks for a takedown on North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan during their 184-pound semifinal match during the Southern Scuffle on Tuesday. Nickal topped Reenan with a 12-4 major decision and won the title with another major decision (10-2). For the Centre Daily Times

The Nittany Lions are starting 2018 on top.

In the first National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll of the year, released Wednesday, Penn State sits at No. 1 with 395 points and 11 first-place votes. The Nittany Lions are followed by the Buckeyes, who despite being off last week, gained another point on Penn State and picked up two first-place votes.

Penn State spent the early part of this week wrestling at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., where it crowned six individual champs and took the team title. Tournament results, however, don’t have a direct effect on NWCA team rankings, which are based upon dual results.

The rest of the top seven remains the same: Oklahoma State, Missouri, North Carolina State, Lehigh and Iowa.

There were, however, shakeups in the lower portion of the poll, due to a tumultuous South Beach Duals over the weekend.

Then-No. 8 Minnesota dropped two duals in Deerfield Beach, Fla. — to then-No. 24 North Carolina and then-No. 12 Cornell. The losses sunk the Golden Gophers to No. 14. The Big Red, meanwhile, lost to North Dakota State, vaulting the Bison back into the rankings. North Carolina moved up five spots to No. 19.

InterMat has not yet released individual NCAA Division I rankings this week, but when it does, plenty of shakeups are to be expected.

For the Nittany Lions, Corey Keener (133), Anthony Cassar (197) and Nick Nevills (heavyweight) all suffered losses at the Southern Scuffle, while 141-pounder Jered Cortez injured his ankle and left the tournament early.

When the new rankings are released, it’s likely Nevills will lose his No. 3 spot to Duke’s Jacob Kasper, who won the Southern Scuffle title, as the Penn State junior finished fourth, with losses to unranked Mike Boykin of N.C. State and No. 11 Nathan Butler of Stanford.

Penn State stands to hold steady at the No. 1 spots at 149, 157, 165 and 184, where defending national champs Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Bo Nickal all had impressive performances on their ways to individual Southern Scuffle titles.

Each tallied wins over ranked opponents, with Nolf pinning his way through the tournament.

No. 2 Mark Hall also saw success at 174, with another win over Lehigh’s No. 5 Jordan Kutler, as well as one over Navy’s No. 8 Jadaen Bernstein, en route to his second Scuffle title.

Further complicating things for the rankings committee this week is new No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis’ loss to Missouri’s Jaydin Eierman at 141 in the South Beach Duals.

The top 5 in that weight class are all pretty neck and neck, with each wrestler having at least one loss to another in that top 5. Diakomihalis’ lone loss is to Eierman, whose single loss is to Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith, who lost to Cornell’s Diakomihalis but also beat No. 4 Kevin Jack and two-time national champ Dean Heil.

It’s likely InterMat’s rankings committee has a lot of thinking to do.

Lauren Muthler: 814-231-4646, @lmuth1259

NWCA/USA Today Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll

Jan. 3

Rank

Team (First)

Record

Points

Previous

1

Penn State (11)

5-0

395

1

2

Ohio State (5)

6-0

389

2

3

Oklahoma State

5-0

364

3

4

Missouri

12-0

353

4

5

NC State

10-0

336

5

6

Lehigh

6-1

315

6

7

Iowa

7-0

309

7

8

Michigan

2-1

283

9

9

Virginia Tech

5-1

266

10

10

Arizona State

2-2

248

11

11

Northern Iowa

2-1

210

14

12

Illinois

1-2

210

13

13

Cornell

4-2

207

12

14

Minnesota

5-3

199

8

15

South Dakota State

4-2

188

15

16

Wisconsin

4-0

174

16

17

Rutgers

3-2

136

17

18

Oklahoma

2-2

99

19

19

North Carolina

5-4

95

24

20

Nebraska

2-2

94

18

21

Central Michigan

3-3

93

21

22

Lock Haven

4-0

93

20

23

Rider

5-2

47

22

24

Purdue

4-1

33

23

25

North Dakota State

4-5

22

NR

Others Receiving Votes: Northwestern 17, Edinboro 15, Utah Valley 4, Drexel 3, Navy 2, Campbell 1

Dropped out: No. 25 Edinboro.

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