Penn State Wrestling

Penn State has a new No. 1 and a new face in this week’s wrestling rankings

Penn State’s Mark Hall wrestles Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia

Penn State’s Mark Hall wrestles Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia in the Nittany Lions’ 41-3 win on Friday, December 14, 2018.
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Penn State’s Mark Hall wrestles Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia in the Nittany Lions’ 41-3 win on Friday, December 14, 2018.

Editor’s note: The Centre Daily Times will publish weekly updates based on NWCA coaches team and InterMat individual rankings to give readers a glimpse into how Penn State wrestling fits into the bigger picture.

Even though the past week of Division I wrestling was pretty quiet due to final exams, Penn State saw its most movement with individual wrestlers so far this season after its dominating 41-3 win over Arizona State on Friday.

With his 4-0 victory over reigning national champ Zahid Valencia, of Arizona State, Penn State’s Mark Hall now moves into the top spot at 174 pounds in InterMat’s poll, joining teammates Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Bo Nickal at the top of their respective weight classes. Hall also earned Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors for the win.

True freshman Roman Bravo-Young also made his rankings debut at No. 18 at 133 pounds, after his defeat of No. 7-ranked 125-pounder Ryan Millhof. The win also helped Bravo-Young crack FloWrestling’s rankings at No. 17. He is No. 14 in Trackwrestling’s poll.

Shakur Rasheed and Brady Berge were the two other Penn State wrestlers who saw movement this week in InterMat’s poll. Rasheed moved up a spot to No. 3 at 184 pounds after Nebraska’s Taylor Venz lost twice over the weekend — to North Carolina’s Chip Ness and North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan. Redshirt freshman Berge moved up one spot to No. 11, switching places with Arizona State’s Josh Maruca, after defeating him 5-4 at 149 pounds.

Penn State’s Nick Lee remains No. 4 at 141 pounds, and Anthony Cassar No. 5 at heavyweight.

Other movement of note this week is the introduction of Cornell freshman Vito Arujau into the 125-pound field at No. 12 after a 17-7 major decision over Northern Iowa’s Jacob Schwarm. Arujau has gone 5-1 so far this season at 133 pounds — his lone loss coming from teammate Chaz Tucker at the Bearcat Open — and made the U23 World Team this summer, defeating Bravo-Young two matches to none in the best-of-three finals at 61 kilograms.

Lewistown’s Hayden Hidlay added his second loss of the season for N.C. State on Sunday, when he dropped a 5-2 decision to Nebraska’s Tyler Berger. The loss effectively doubles the total losses the sophomore had in his freshman season — when his lone defeat came at the hands of Nolf in the 157-pound final.

With its win over Arizona State, Penn State will finish out 2018 as the unanimous No. 1 in the Theraworx National Wrestling Coaches Association team poll. Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Iowa and Michigan round out the top five.

The lone change in this week’s team poll came as North Dakota State and Lehigh switched positions, with the Mountainhawks falling to No. 21.

Lock Haven also picked up a few more points this week at No. 19 after improving to 2-0 with a 36-6 win over EWL rival Bloomsburg.

Rankings will take a break next week as most teams are off for the holidays and the end-of-semester break. But that break won’t last too long, as the Reno Tournaments of Champions is set for Thursday, and the annual Midlands Championships are Dec. 29-30.

The Nittany Lions will next compete on Jan. 1-2 at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn.., where they will compete against wrestlers from 22 other teams, including Oklahoma State, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Lehigh and Lock Haven.

Theraworx NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll

Dec. 18

RankTeam (votes)Rec.Pts.Prev.
1Penn State (16)4-04001
2Ohio State4-03822
3Oklahoma State5-03693
7N.C. State6-03077
12North Carolina3-121612
14Virginia Tech1-218914
15Arizona State1-315215
16Northern Iowa1-213616
19Lock Haven2-010619
20North Dakota State4-18321
22Utah Valley5-27022
23Iowa State2-16823

Others receiving votes: Old Dominion 13, Princeton 11, Stanford 3, Appalachian State 4, Northwestern 1.

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Lauren Muthler covers what’s happening right now in Centre County, from breaking news, road closures and weather, to cool and interesting stories she finds along the way. Oh, and Penn State wrestling.