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.
The stage is set for a top-5 showdown at the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday.
Michigan defeated then-No. 2 Ohio State 19-17 last weekend in Columbus, in a thriller that came down to a battle between freshman heavyweights. With the win, the Wolverines jumped up two spots in the National Wrestling Coaches Association team coaches poll to No. 4, just ahead of their showdown with the top-ranked Nittany Lions. Ohio State, meanwhile, dropped to No. 6, while Oklahoma State (10-0) takes over the No. 2 spot, followed by Iowa (10-0).
Friday’s dual will be the biggest of the season so far for the Nittany Lions (9-0), who have extended their dual streak to 54 consecutive wins after victories over Purdue and Indiana over the weekend. Including freshman Roman Bravo-Young, who sustained an apparent knee injury for the Nittany Lions against Purdue, Friday’s dual could feature 16 InterMat-ranked wrestlers — including five No. 1s.
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With the inclusion of 133 pounds, six out of 10 bouts are slated to be between two ranked top-10-ranked wrestlers — with two top-5 tilts.
A 3-2 decision over Ohio State’s Ke-Shawn Hayes vaulted Michigan senior Alec Pantaleo five spots to No. 5 at 157 pounds, to give Penn State’s top-ranked Jason Nolf his third top-5 matchup in three weeks. Nolf won the last matchup between the pair 6-4 last season in Ann Arbor, with a third-period rideout.
The evening’s other potential top-5 matchup is at 174 pounds, between Penn State’s No. 1 Mark Hall and Michigan’s No. 3 Myles Amine. The Michigan junior is coming off a 3-2 decision over Ohio State’s Ethan Smith. Hall owns a 2-0 advantage against Amine but won each of their bouts by just a single point.
Michigan sophomore Kanen Storr (No. 5) suffered his third loss of the season over the weekend, losing by technical fall to Ohio State’s No. 2 Joey McKenna at 141 pounds. The Iowa State transfer, however, quickly put the loss behind him, tweeting on Sunday: “Just set up for a major comeback. Continuing to trust the process and placing my faith in God! BIG opportunity this Friday at Penn State!” He’ll take on Penn State’s No. 7 Nick Lee, who is coming off a weekend where he earned a pair of major decisions.
The other ranked matchups set for Friday evening are No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph vs. No. 7 Logan Massa at 165 pounds, and No. 4 Anthony Cassar vs. No. 8 Mason Parris at heavyweight. It was true freshman Parris’ 6-3 decision over No. 19 Chase Singletary that secured the win for Michigan over the Buckeyes.
For Penn State, two wrestlers saw movement in InterMat’s poll this week. Despite not wrestling since Jan. 13 due to an apparent injury, Shakur Rasheed moved up a spot to No. 2 at 184 pounds. The move can be attributed to Illinois’ Emery Parker’s loss to Nebraska’s Taylor Venz. Parker fell from No. 2 to No. 5, while Venz moved up one spot to No. 4. North Carolina State’s Nick Reenen, whose lone loss came at the hands of No. 1 Myles Martin, sits at No. 3.
Bravo-Young slid down two spots to No. 15 after his 7-3 loss to Purdue’s Ben Thornton, who moved up four spots to No. 14 with the win. Coach Cael Sanderson addressed Bravo-Young’s injury status on Tuesday, saying they are “optimistic” he’ll wrestle on Friday.
The rest of the 133-pound weight class continues to see shakeup as Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi followed up his upset over Daton Fix with a loss to Virginia Tech’s Korbin Myers. Phillippi dropped three spots to No. 5, while Fix (Oklahoma State) took over the No. 2 spot. Myers moved up two spots to No. 12.
Keeping at 133 pounds, Michigan’s Stevan Micic made a powerful statement last Friday in why he deserves his No. 1 rank with a major decision over Ohio State’s No. 6 Luke Pletcher.
Senior Bo Nickal remains at No. 1 at 197, and freshman Brady Berge No. 11 at 149 for Penn State.
The NCAA last week also released its first of four rounds of individual Division I coaches rankings. The final coaches rankings will be one of the tools used as part of the NCAA tournament selection process to determine qualifiers and seeds.
Penn State wrestlers are ranked as follows: 133: No. 12 Bravo-Young; 141: No. 7 (tie) Lee; 149: No. 12 Berge; 157: No. 1 Nolf; 165: No. 1 Joseph; 174: No. 1 Hall; 184: No. 3 Rasheed; 197: No. 1 Nickal; 285: No. 3 Cassar.
Outside of the top 10, the biggest shakeups in the NWCA team poll were at the bottom. Arizona State dropped out of the rankings after a rough week in Pennsylvania, losing 23-14 to Lock Haven last Friday at Red Lion High School in York County, then 23-13 to Lehigh. With the win, Lock Haven jumped back into the rankings at No. 24, and Lehigh moved up to No. 22, despite having its six-dual win streak snapped by No. 12 Virginia Tech.
Also of note this week, State College native Rob Koll surpassed 300 wins as a head coach when No. 10 Cornell beat Brown and Harvard over the weekend.
No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 4 Michigan is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Theraworx NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll
|1||Penn State (16)||9-0||400||1|
Others receiving votes: Arizona State 9, Oklahoma 6, Campbell 5, Army West Point 3, Utah Valley 3.
Dropped out: No. 23 Arizona State.