Penn State wrestling updated its 2018-19 roster on its website on Wednesday, and it comes with some big changes — most notably in the upper weights.
Two-time national champ at 184 pounds Bo Nickal is listed on the roster at 197 pounds, while last season’s 197-pounders — senior Shakur Rasheed and senior Anthony Cassar — are listed at 184 and heavyweight, respectively.
Those changes lend credence to rumors and speculation that have been circling almost since the end of last season, that Nickal would be moving up a weight class for his senior year.
Nickal’s multiple social media posts this summer featuring slabs of meat and chicken wings also didn’t hurt the rumors he was bulking up.
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This won’t be the first time Nickal has changed weights, as he finished his freshman campaign as the runner up at 174.
With the three-time finalist potentially moving up, it’s no surprise Rasheed and Cassar would look for different homes.
Going down a weight might be a more natural fit for Rasheed, who told the Centre Daily Times several times last season he wasn’t quite up to a full 197, but would “keep eating rotisserie chickens” to get there.
Rasheed started his career wrestling at 165, then moved up to 174 his sophomore year, both of which he said were hard cuts for him. He said he felt much more comfortable last year at 197, and it showed — as he went 24-5, winning the Southern Scuffle and reaching All-American status for the first time in his career.
Also listed on the roster at 184 are freshman Austin Hoopes and junior Franny Bisono, who’s listed at 174/184.
Cassar will bump up to challenge two-time All-American Nick Nevills, also a senior this year.
Cassar started last season at 197 for the Nittany Lions until Rasheed’s Outstanding Wrestler-winning performance at the Scuffle. After that, the two split time until the postseason, when Rasheed got the nod.
Also listed at heavyweight is sophomore Alex Nicholas. Notably missing from 285 pounds is Nevills’ younger brother and four-time California state champ — Seth Nevills.
The absence of Seth Nevills and Joe Lee from the roster raise speculation that they, along with fellow highly touted commits Aaron Brooks and Michael Beard — are grayshirting this season. That means they’d wait another year before enrolling at Penn State.
Also of note on the updated roster is that incoming freshmen Brody Teske and Gavin Teasdale are both listed at 125, and Roman Bravo-Young at 133.
As for who might replace two-time Hodge Trophy winner and three-time national champ Zain Retherford this year, Junior World Team member Brady Berge, who was listed last season at 149/157, is on the roster at 149, along with fellow redshirt freshmen Jarod Verkleeren and Richie McClanahan, sophomore Luke Gardner and true freshman Paul Feite.
The rest of Penn State’s returning starters — Nick Lee, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall — are all listed at the weights they finished at last year, 141, 157, 165 and 174, respectively.
A lot can still change between now and the start of season in mid-November, as nothing is set in stone, but the updated roster does shed a little bit of light on what the Nittany Lions’ starting lineup might look like as they shoot for their eighth national title in the past nine years.