Penn State Wrestling

Who can beat Penn State wrestling this season? The Nittany Lions open as heavy favorites

Penn State’s Nick Lee reacts to his victory over North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack to place fifth at 141 pounds at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Saturday, March, 17, 2018 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Penn State’s Nick Lee reacts to his victory over North Carolina State’s Kevin Jack to place fifth at 141 pounds at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Saturday, March, 17, 2018 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Centre Daily Times, file

As college wrestling season officially kicks off this week, Penn State sits comfortably atop most major rankings.

Coming off its third undefeated season and seventh national championship in the past eight years, and with four past national champions and seven All-Americans returning, it’s hardly a surprise.

Penn State was the unanimous No. 1 in the first National Wrestling Coaches Association Division I poll released Wednesday, picking up all 16 first-place votes for 400 points.

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Last season’s runner-up, Ohio State, was second with 376 votes, followed by fellow Big Ten foe Iowa at No. 3, then Oklahoma State, Michigan, Lehigh, Missouri, North Carolina State, Cornell and Arizona State, to round out the top 10.

Penn State will wrestle four of those teams — Ohio State, Michigan, Lehigh and Arizona State — in duals this season.

Lock Haven tied with South Dakota State for the No. 20 spot in the Top-25 poll.

Penn State fared just as well in other national preseason rankings, coming in at No. 1 in InterMat’s Tournament Power Index, FloWrestling’s team standings and the NCAA’s power rankings.

The Nittany Lions earned a dominating 140.5 points in InterMat’s TPI, which ranks a team’s potential tournament strength based upon individual rankings. Ohio State was a distant second with 99 points, followed by Oklahoma State with 87, Iowa 86.5 and Michigan 72.5.

Helping Penn State to earn those 140.5 points was the fact that eight out of 10 potential starters are ranked — seven in the top five at their respective weight classes. InterMat does not rank true freshmen.

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Returning national champions seniors Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, along with junior Vincenzo Joseph, each earned the No. 1 ranking at 157, 197 and 165 pounds, receptively.

Junior Mark Hall, a two-time finalist and 2017 national champion at 174 pounds, and two-time All-American heavyweight Nick Nevills both earned No. 2 rankings.

All-Americans sophomore Nick Lee and senior Shakur Rasheed picked up No. 4 rankings at 141 and 184, while redshirt freshman Brady Berge, widely expected to start at 149, came in at No. 16, after going 4-1 wrestling unattached in the Princeton Open last season.

Penn State wrestling kicks off its season Nov. 11 against Kent State, when Nickal will get the chance to cement himself as the No. 1 at his new new weight class with a win over preseason No. 2 Kyle Conel.

NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Poll

Oct. 31

Rank

Team (First)2017-18 RecordPointsPrevious
1Penn State (16)14-04001
2Ohio State14-13762
3Iowa12-33657
4Oklahoma State13-23535
5Michigan11-33314
6Lehigh12-33058
7Missouri19-02983
8N.C. State15-22956
9Cornell13-225911
10Arizona State11-32549
11Virginia Tech14-324510
12Nebraska10-423013
13Minnesota10-820318
14Northern Iowa6-520115
15Illinois7-416716
16Rutgers8-714819
17Northwestern11-413217
18Purdue9-711421
19Wisconsin7-510222
20 (tie)South Dakota State13-28512
20 (tie)Lock Haven12-48523
22Wyoming13-37214
23North Carolina9-117124
24Duke7-717NR
25Appalachian State9-416NR

Others Receiving Votes: Stanford 15, Maryland 11, Drexel 9, Pittsburgh 8, North Dakota State 6, Iowa State 4, Rider 4, Utah Valley 4, Virginia 4, Binghamton 3, Clarion 3, Army West Point 1, Central Michigan 1, Kent State 1, Old Dominion 1, Princeton 1.

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