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 No. 1 Penn State wrestling team will face one of the biggest threats to its 55 straight dual winning streak when it travels to Columbus to take on the No. 6 Buckeyes on Friday.
With the entrance of Ohio State’s Ethan Smith into the rankings at No. 18 at 174 pounds and No. 12 Te’Shan Campbell’s move down to 165 pounds, the newest set of InterMat rankings on Tuesday sets up the potential for nine ranked matchups between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions.
The only weight where neither has a ranked wrestler is 125 pounds.
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Now, whether all 18 ranked wrestlers compete is another story. Penn State’s No. 15 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young has been out the past two duals with a leg injury, No. 11 149-pounder Brady Berge has sat the past three, and No. 2 184-pounder Shakur Rasheed did not look entirely healthy in his return after injury last Friday. Ohio State’s No. 2 Joey McKenna also sat last weekend with an “undisclosed injury.”
But if all regular starters wrestle, there is the potential for a total of four top-10 bouts, including a top 5 and two No. 1 vs. No. 2s. Yes, that’s two No. 1 vs. No. 2s in one dual. The other interesting piece of information is that out of 10 bouts, only two — 141 and 165 pounds — are set to be repeats from last season’s dual.
Wrestling fans will get to see what is likely the biggest threat to top-ranked Nittany Lion Bo Nickal’s third consecutive NCAA title hopes when he faces No. 2 Kollin Moore at 197 pounds, And they also might see an entertaining match when Ohio State’s No. 1 Myles Martin takes on No. 2 Rasheed, if he is healthy.
Nittany Lion Nick Lee’s sound defeat of then.-No. 5 Kanen Storr (Michigan) last Friday bumped him up to No. 5 at 141 pounds, setting up a top-5 tilt with No. 2 McKenna. Storr fell down to No. 6.
Smith entered the ranking at 174 pounds this week after a major decision over Northwestern’s Johnny Sebastian. The freshman has now started the past four duals in a row at 174, and Campbell moved down to take over for Kaleb Romero at 165 against Northwestern on Sunday.
Smith is 14-5 on the season, but pushed Michigan’s No. 3 Myles Amine in a tight 3-2 loss on Jan. 25. For his part. Penn State’s No. 1 Mark Hall, who defeated Amine 3-2 last weekend, now has wins over three of the top-5wrestlers in his weight class, and six of the top 10.
Penn State’s No. 1 at 165 pounds, Vincenzo Joseph, also further padded his resume last Friday with a win over Michigan’s No. 7 Logan Massa. Joseph now has wins over four top-10 ranked wrestlers, two in the top 5. At last year’s dual with Ohio State, Joseph beat Campbell by major decision.
The Nittany Lions’ other No. 1 wrestler, Jason Nolf, will take on No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes, who flip-flopped weights with Micah Jordan since last season. Jordan is now No. 3 at 149.
Besides Lee at 141, the only weight where Nittany Lion wrestlers saw movement was at heavyweight, where Anthony Cassar moved up one spot to No. 3. Cassar is coming off a major decision over Michigan’s now-No. 6 Mason Parris, and the previous No. 3, Iowa’s Sam Stoll, fell to No. 7 with his Sunday loss to Nebraska’s No. 10 David Jensen. Stoll had started the season at No. 1, but has missed a good portion of the season with injury. Minnesota’s Gable Steveson sits at the top, undefeated as a true freshman.
The biggest changes overall in individual rankings this week were at 149 and 184 pounds. There’s a new No. 1 at 149, as Rutgers’ senior Anthony Ashnault scored a dominating 10-2 major decision over in-state rival and previous No. 1 Matthew Kolodzick, of Princeton, in front of 5,290 fans at the RAC. Kolodzick now sits at No. 2. Rutgers ended up winning that dual 19-18.
Iowa’s Cash Wilcke upset Nebraska’s Taylor Venz 5-2 at 184 pounds Sunday in a crucial bout for the Hawkeyes. Iowa won the dual 20-13 to remain unbeaten. Wilcke moved up three spots to No. 10, while Venz fell two spots to No. 6. Illinois Emory Parker suffered his second consecutive loss when he dropped 8-4 to Martin. Having lost to Venz the week prior, Emory is now ranked No. 7.
With those losses, Virginia Tech’s Zack Zavatsky moves up three spots to No. 4, and Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch up three to No. 5. North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan still sits at third, behind Rasheed and Martin.
The Nittany Lions remain the unanimous No. 1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association team poll on Tuesday after their defeat of No. 4 Michigan last Friday. The top 10 remains unchanged: Penn State, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio State, Minnesota, N.C. State, Nebraska and Cornell.
Wyoming fell two spots to No. 13 after a weekend loss to unranked Fresno State, which picked up 11 votes this week. Virginia Tech moved up one spot and took over at No. 11 after a 40-3 pounding of Duke. Iowa State, which moved up two spots to No. 12, is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, beating South Dakota State and Utah Valley over the weekend by a combined score of 100-1, to move to 9-2 on the season.
The No. 1 Nittany Lions and No. 6 Buckeyes will hit at 8:40 p.m. Friday in Columbus. The match will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Theraworx NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll
|1||Penn State (16)||10-0||400||1|
Others receiving votes: Fresno State 11, Campbell 6, Arizona State 5, Army West Point 4, Navy 1.
Dropped out: None