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.
With the dual season winding down, wrestlers have only a few more chances to improve their winning percentage, coaches poll rank and RPI before conference championships and NCAAs.
Wrestlers across the country made the most of that time last weekend, with upsets or big wins in almost every weight class. A couple Nittany Lions were among those making big moves in this week’s round of rankings.
After his upset of Ohio State’s Joey McKenna on the road last Friday, Penn State’s Nick Lee improved to 21-1 on the season and shot into No. 2 at 141 pounds in InterMat’s poll, while McKenna slid one spot to No. 3. Lee had previously been ranked fifth.
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Lee also moved into second place in FloWrestling’s and TrackWrestling’s polls. He is ranked fifth in his weight class in both WIN Magazine and the NCAA’s power rankings, which both rank the wrestlers based upon how well they think they’ll do in the NCAA tournament.
The sophomore will have a chance to further improve his numbers over the next couple weeks with a matchup against InterMat’s No. 5 Mike Carr, of Illinois, on Sunday and undefeated No. 8 Brian Lantry, of Buffalo, on Feb. 24. The matchup with Carr will be particularly crucial, as it’ll likely hold a lot of weight when determining seeds for the Big Ten tournament. Carr beat Lee at Big Tens last year, 10-6.
True freshman Roman Bravo-Young (16-2) was the other Nittany Lion to pull off a big upset last weekend against the Buckeyes. His tiebreaker win over No. 6 Luke Pletcher moved Bravo-Young up four spots to No. 11 in InterMat’s poll at 133 pounds. Pletcher remained at No. 6.
Bravo-Young’s rank varies among other rankings sites, as he’s No. 8 in the NCAA’s power rankings, No. 9 by FloWrestling, 10 by TrackWrestling and 13 by WIN.
Bravo-Young, who missed his chance to wrestle Michigan’s No. 1 Stevan Micic two weeks ago due to injury, will not get another shot at a marquee matchup before heading into Big Tens. However, the conference tournament will provide plenty of opportunities ahead of NCAAs, with InterMat’s No. 1 Micic, No. 3 Austin DeSanto (Iowa), No. 4 Nick Suriano (Rutgers), No. 6 Pletcher and No. 8 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota), just to name a few.
Some of the other big shakeups this week nationally occurred at 174 and 184 pounds. Defending national champion Zahid Valencia fell to No. 3 at 174 pounds after he was pinned by Missouri’s Daniel Lewis in 4 minutes and 15 seconds. The Tiger moved up two spots to No. 2, while Michigan’s Myles Amine, who beat Lewis earlier, sits at No. 4 in InterMat’s poll. Penn State’s No. 1 Mark Hall (20-0) has wins over both Amine and Valencia this season, and is likely to face Amine again at Big Tens.
At 184 pounds, North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan dropped two spots to No. 5 after falling to Pittsburgh freshman Nino Bonaccorsi in the No. 15 Panthers’ upset of the No. 10 Wolfpack. Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed, despite missing four duals due to injury, is still ranked No. 2 by InterMat. By not wrestling, Rasheed missed key matchups with Nebraska’s No. 6 Taylor Venz and Ohio State’s No. 1 Myles Martin.
The senior has just three ranked wins so far this season in Iowa State’s No. 18 Samuel Colbray, Kent State’s No. 19 Andrew McNally and Michigan’s No. 20 Jelani Embree. If he wrestles, Rasheed will have a chance this weekend for two more, in Michigan State’s No. 15 Cameron Caffey and Illinois’ No. 7 Emery Parker.
Penn State’s No. 1 197-pounder Bo Nickal pinned the No. 2 in Ohio State’s Kollin Moore last weekend, but the fall did not affect Moore’s InterMat rank. Moving now to 13-1 on the season, Moore remained No. 2, as No. 3 Patrick Brucki, of Princeton, also took his first loss this weekend, falling to Cornell’s now-No. 7 Ben Honis. Army’s Rocco Caywood fell from fourth place to eighth with a loss to unranked Drew Phipps, of Bucknell. Iowa’s Jacob Warner moves into fourth place at 11-2 on the season, while Oklahoma State’s Preston Weigel enters the rankings at No. 6 after having not wrestled since Dec. 8 due to injury.
In addition to 174 and 197 pounds, Penn State also still boasts the top-ranked wrestlers at 157 pounds in Jason Nolf and 165 pounds in Vincenzo Joseph. There was little movement in either of those weight classes this week. There was also little movement at 149 pounds, where Penn State’s Brady Berge still sits at No. 11, despite not wrestling since Jan. 20, or heavyweight, where Penn State has the No. 3 wrestler in Anthony Cassar.
The Nittany Lions remain without a ranked wrestler only at 125 pounds. Northwestern’s No. 1 Sebastian Rivera suffered his first loss of the season when he bumped up to take on Michigan’s No. 1 Micic at 133 pounds Sunday. His 10-4 loss, however, will not affect his NCAA rank at 125 pounds. Cornell freshman Vito Arujau, who beat Bravo-Young in the U23 finals in freestyle competition this summer, pinned promising Princeton freshman Pat Glory of Princeton on Friday. The win moved Arujau up three spots to No. 8, and Glory remains at No. 10.
After its 28-9 beating of No. 6 Ohio State, Penn State remains No. 1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association team coaches poll. With their toughest tests in Michigan and Ohio State behind them, the Nittany Lions look likely to finish off their fourth consecutive undefeated dual season when they take on Buffalo in the final dual of the year.
The Nittany Lions next take on unranked Michigan State on Friday and No. 24 Illinois on Sunday.
Theraworx NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll
|1||Penn State (16)||11-0||400||1|
|25||Army West Point||7-2||15||NR|
Others receiving votes: Fresno State 9, Stanford 6, Appalachian State 4, Navy 4, North Dakota State 3, Buffalo 2, Campbell 2, Indiana 2, Arizona State 1, Old Dominion 1.
Dropped out: No. 25 Stanford