Penn State’s Senior Day dual with Buffalo on Sunday was over before it even began.
The Bulls were missing half of their starting lineup, which included two ranked wrestlers. The Nittany Lions went about their business, winning all 10 bouts in a 55-0 victory to close out their third straight undefeated season.
The 55 points scored by Penn State is a new dual record, breaking the previous mark of 54 points scored in a shoutout win over Millersville in 1983. The Nittany Lions tallied seven pins, which tied the mark for most pins in a dual set in that same Millersville match. It was also the 45th straight dual win for Penn State.
Penn State looks like a well-oiled machine heading into the postseason. It recorded eight straight bonus-point victories following Carson Kuhn’s forfeit at 125 pounds and Corey Keener’s 8-3 decision.
“This is the time of year where bonus points make a big difference,” Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson said. “We want guys looking for bonus points. If they are there, you got to get them.”
Nick Lee (141 pounds), Zain Retherford (149), Bo Pipher (157), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184), Shakur Rasheed (197) and Nick Nevills (285) all had pins for the Nittany Lions.
Lee, Retherford and Pipher recorded three straight falls to give the Nittany Lions a 27-0 lead at the break.
Lee racked up a 14-4 lead before sticking Nicholas Cassella in 4:37. It was then Retherford’s turn to step on the Penn State mat for the last time.
He dominated like usual, scoring 12 points in the first period. He chose neutral to begin the second period, took down Nicholas Palumbo and pinned him in 2:10. It was the 85th straight win for Retherford and capped off a perfect dual record of 59-0, matching a feat achieved by David Taylor, Ed Ruth and Andy Matter. It was also pin No. 52 for the senior’s career, one shy of tying Taylor and Josh Moore.
After the win, Retherford smacked the mat twice and waved to the crowd on the way off.
“It’s something I visualized last night,” Retherford said. “It was to say thanks to the fans and Rec Hall. I like the Bryce Jordan Center, but this place is special. It’s got that tradition. It’s packed and intimate. It’s my favorite place to wrestle.”
Pipher recorded his first victory since replacing the injured Jason Nolf in the Nittany Lions’ lineup. He took Eric Fasnacht down, locked up a cross-face cradle and earned the fall in 1:53.
Out of the break, Vincenzo Joseph used four takedowns and a riding point to lock up a 16-8 major decision over Noah Grover. At one point in the match, Joseph had to fight off his back after Grover caught him going for the inside trip.
Hall and Nickal wrestled just more than a minute combined in their pinning wins.
Hall took care of Derek Holcomb in 56 seconds. Nickal shook Brett Perry’s hand for a second and pinned him 10 seconds later. It was the second-fastest pin in Nittany Lions’ history to tie Taylor’s mark during another Senior Day match in 2013 against Clarion. Dylan Alton holds the fastest pin in eight seconds during the 2012-13 season.
Rasheed, who Sanderson said “is the plan as of right now” to compete in the postseason, took down Joe Ariola and locked up the crossface cradle. He earned two near-fall points, readjusted, locked the cradle up again and pinned Ariola in 1:57.
Nevills finished the dual and pin parade with a flattening of Nolan Terrance in 2:48.
“These guys wrestle for bonus points regardless of the match. It just so happened they were able to score a lot today,” Sanderson said. “It’s just something you got to value and look for all the time. It’s not a deal where you think, ‘Oh, we are at nationals, now I might try to get bonus points for the team.’ If you don’t have that mentaility early, you probably aren’t going to have that mentality late.”