Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson says his team always shows up for the big matches.
The Nittany Lions’ Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee and Bo Nickal showed up in the biggest way Friday night as Penn State routed Ohio State 28-9.
“We are in a good place as a team,” Lee said to the Penn State Sports Network. “I think dual-meet wise we are doing very well. We’ve had some guys out, and guys are stepping into those positions and wrestling really hard. For us, it feels really good to have those guys ready to go, and to wrestle as well as they are wrestling.”
The win was the 56th straight overall for Penn State and 34th straight in Big Ten action. Fans were treated to seven ranked vs. ranked wrestler matchups with Penn State winning them all — five of them with bonus points.
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The night started off with a bang at 133 pounds as No. 12 Bravo-Young made his return to the lineup after missing the Michigan dual. Bravo-Young used two escapes — one in a ride-out period in overtime — and a full ride in the second ride-out period to top No. 6 Luke Pletcher 2-1. It was the second consecutive loss for Pletcher.
“That was huge, and good for momentum,” Lee said of Bravo-Young’s victory. “Everyone has to do their job, but that is awesome for Roman. He is a good wrestler. ... I think Roman is going to win a national title this year.”
Bravo-Young’s excitement caused Penn State to lose a team point as he tossed his headgear to the mat. But with the Nittany Lions leading 2-0, No. 6 Lee seemed to feed off of Bravo-Young’s victory, trumping No. 2 Joey McKenna at 141 pounds.
Lee trailed 5-2 to start the third period, but McKenna, who missed action last week, looked gassed. It showed as Lee rattled off five third-period points. The winning takedown for Lee came with 13 seconds remaining in a 7-6 defeat of the Buckeye.
“It’s a good win to have going into the end of the season,” Lee said. “I think, mainly for me, I’m not worried about rankings or seedings. For me, the biggest thing to worry about is the experience I have now wrestling this guy. He is definitely a national title contender and a fantastic wrestler. Being able to wrestle these guys is invaluable going into the postseason.”
Penn State was up 5-0, and off to a start not many expected.
When No. 1 Nickal stepped on the mat against No. 2 Kollin Moore at 197 pounds, the Nittany Lions were up 18-6. One more win and the dual was sealed. Nickal pulled it off in emphatic fashion much like the 2018 NCAA Championships.
Nickal caught Moore in a cradle early in the period. His grip was tight, and he settled in on Moore. Nickal earned the fall in 1:38, and the win was secured.
“He was ready to go. Bo’s a big match guy — the bigger the match, he’s gonna lock in,” Sanderson said after match. “All of our guys for the most part are locked in. This was a big match for them. Obviously, we want to wrestle well, and they did.”
Following Bravo-Young’s and Lee’s upsets, Ohio State’s Micah Jordan was only able to secure a 10-8 win over Jarod Verkleeren at 149 pounds. The Buckeyes were within two, the closest they would be the rest of the match.
No. 1 Jason Nolf came out and did what he does best, recording multiple takedowns and scoring bonus points. Nolf had nine takedowns on No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes. Nolf even collected four near-fall points in a 21-6 technical fall in 5:51.
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph earned a 11-2 major decision over No. 12 Te’Shawn Campbell at 165 pounds. The win gave Penn State a 14-3 lead at the break.
No. 1 Mark Hall gave the Nittany Lions an 18-2 lead after his 12-4 major decision over No. 18 Ethan Smith at 174 pounds. Hall recorded four third-period takedowns in the win. Also during that bout, Ohio State was docked a team point for not controlling its corner.
Before Nickal’s bout, the Buckeyes got their second win of the dual thanks to No. 1 Myles Martin at 184 pounds. He picked up an 18-6 major decision over Mason Manville, who filled in for Shakur Rasheed.
No. 3 Anthony Cassar followed Nickal’s pin by collecting an 18-8 major decision over No. 19 Chase Singletary at 285 pounds. Cassar recorded eight takedowns with only one really being his signature blast double leg.
The dual ended with Ohio State’s Malik Heinselman using three takedowns to beat Devin Schnupp 7-4.
“I think the guys are happy,” Sanderson said of the team’s feeling after the win. “All’s good, but we’ve got to keep getting better.”
No. 1 Penn State 28, No. 6 Ohio State 9
Friday at Columbus, Ohio
133: No. 15 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, dec. No. 6 Luke Pletcher, 2-1 (OT2)
141: No. 5 Nick Lee, PSU, dec. No. 2 Joey McKenna, 7-6
149: No. 3 Micah Jordan, OSU, dec. Jarod Verkleeren, 10-8
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf, PSU, tech. fall No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes, 21-6 (5:51)
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, major dec. No. 12 Te’Shan Campbell, 11-2
174: No. 1 Mark Hall, PSU, major dec. No. 18 Ethan Smith, 12-4
184: No. 1 Myles Martin, OSU, major dec. Mason Manville, 18-6
197: No. 1 Bo Nickal, PSU, pinned No. 2 Kollin Moore, 1:38
285: No. 3 Anthony Cassar, PSU, major dec. No. 19 Chase Singletary, 18-8
125: Malik Heinselman, OSU, dec. Devin Schnupp, 7-4
Takedowns: Penn State 30, Ohio State 15
Records: Penn State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten), Ohio State (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten)
Next match: Michigan State at Penn State, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.