Penn State’s Mark Hall had a final at 10 on Friday morning.
He probably won’t know the final grade for at least several days, but he knew exactly how his match against Arizona State’s No. 1-ranked Zahid Valencia was going to go later that night.
“I just had a vision before the match,” Hall said after the Nittany Lions topped the Sun Devils 41-3. “I kind of played it all through my head, had a lot of confidence, preparation, it was good, I felt good.”
Hall scored the first points of the match on an escape in the second period. About one minute later, he scored again.
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The junior was in a scramble situation with Valencia. Hall came out on top with Valencia under him for the takedown with 46 seconds to go in the period. It was almost in that moment Hall had broken the reigning 174-pound NCAA champ.
“I don’t know, putting on that hard ride was what I was thinking about,” said Hall, when asked if that takedown broke Valencia. “Whether it was the second period or the third period, that’s what I was thinking of doing. (I was) trying to throw my leg in, get a cross wrist and trying to turn him was the big thing.”
Hall rode Valencia out for the remainder of the second period. Valencia started from the bottom in the third period. He couldn’t get out from under Hall.
The Apple Valley, Minn., native amassed 2:48 in riding time en route to a 4-0 shutout of the champ. The crowd erupted, and Hall jumped to his feet and started playing an air guitar.
“I think Mark did a fantastic job today executing his plan,” Arizona State coach Zeke Jones said. “Zahid didn’t execute his plan. You didn’t see Zahid like you’ve seen him in the past. The great thing is Zahid is a very bright wrestler. He has to go back and say, ‘What didn’t I do that I normally do that makes me good?’ I think he is a smart enough guy to know that. I think all of you guys have watched him wrestle before to know he’s got to do more than what he did today.”
Penn State led 24-3 at that point and seemed to only feed off of Hall’s victory more.
Shakur Rasheed earned a 15-0 technical fall of Kordell Norfleet at the final buzzer of the match. Norfleet handed Rasheed three stall points due to such a strong ride. Rasheed racked up 4:58 in riding time.
Bo Nickal took just 35 seconds to dispatch Austyn Harris at 197 pounds with a fall. Anthony Cassar finished the match off with the third of three pins on the night for the Nittany Lions. He took care of Brady Daniel in 5:18.
The night began with excitement and buzz in anticipation of No. 2 Hall versus No. 1 Valencia.
Devin Schnupp suffered a 13-7 loss to Brandon Courtney, who is the backup 125-pounder for Arizona State. Schnupp trailed 13-5 with 15 seconds remaining and the Sun Devils looking at bonus points to start the dual.
Schnupp was able to hit a reversal on Courtney with two seconds left in the match and saved a point for his team. The crowd erupted and applauded Schnupp’s effort.
Arizona State’s 125-pound starter and No. 7-ranked Ryan Millhof bumped up to 133 pounds to take on Roman Bravo-Young. It was a move that Penn State coach Cael Sanderson praised.
“I thought that was a nice move on Arizona State’s part,” he said. “They came here to win, which says a lot.”
Bravo-Young might have made Millhof rethink his decision to bump up to help his team. The true freshman rattled off two quick first-period takedowns and rolled to a 14-1 major decision over the senior in Millhof.
Nick Lee earned the other pin on the night for the Nittany Lions with 42 seconds remaining in the first period of his match.
Brady Berge made his Rec Hall debut and methodically worked his way to a 5-4 win over No. 11 Josh Maruca. It’s a win Sanderson feels will boost Berge’s confidence going forward.
Jason Nolf earned seven takedowns in his 18-5 win at 157 pounds, which gave Penn State a 17-3 lead going into the break. The crowd remained energized.
Out of the break, Vincenzo Joseph used a late takedown to secure an 11-2 major decision over No. 5 Josh Shields. The noise in Rec Hall was set to blow the roof off the place before Hall and Valencia, and ultimately did after Hall’s win.
“First off, that is a tremendous place to wrestle,” Jones said of the atmosphere. “I think our guys got a nice education on what it’s like to come into a really hostile environment with guys that want to fight hard. Maybe the guys let that creep in too much, I don’t know.
“Our overall effort wasn’t great for a variety of reasons. We were maybe outmatched at a couple of weights. When it got tough at times, we didn’t match it. You can’t compete with a team like that unless your effort is 100 percent every second.”
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No. 1 Penn State 41, No. 15 Arizona State
Friday at University Park
125: Brandon Courtney, ASU, dec. Devin Schnupp, 13-7
133: Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, major dec. No. 7 (125) Ryan Millhof, 14-1
141: No. 4 Nick Lee, PSU, pinned Cory Crooks, 2:18
149: No. 12 Brady Berge, PSU, dec. No. 11 Josh Maruca, 5-4
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf, PSU, major dec. No. 16 Christian Pagdilao, 18-5
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, major dec. No. 5 Josh Shields, 11-2
174: No. 2 Mark Hall, PSU, dec. No. 1 Zahid Valencia, 4-0
184: No. 4 Shakur Rasheed, PSU, tech. fall Kordell Norfleet, 15-0 (7:00)
197: No. 1 Bo Nickal, PSU, pinned Austyn Harris, :35
285: No. 5 Anthony Cassar, PSU, pinned Brady Daniel, 5:18
Records: Arizona State (1-3), Penn State (4-0)
Next match: Penn State at Southern Scuffle, Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan 1-2