Highlights from Penn State’s win over Michigan State
Penn State All-American Shakur Rasheed doesn’t know if Sunday’s match will be his final in Happy Valley. He hopes it isn’t — but he’s preparing as if the regular-season finale will be.
“I will be out there for Senior Day,” the 184-pound wrestler said Tuesday afternoon. “Unfortunately.”
The redshirt senior is still seeking a sixth year of eligibility after a series of injuries, but he said Tuesday the extra year still hasn’t been approved or rejected by the NCAA. So, right now, Sunday’s dual against Buffalo might be his very last at Rec Hall — a “rough” dynamic to deal with.
“We don’t know,” he said in the hallway of the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. “And, right now, we’re planning on it being my last year. So I’m going to be out there for sure.”
Rasheed became a fan favorite last season after rising from third on the preseason depth chart to becoming one of the nation’s best wrestlers. At the 2018 Southern Scuffle, he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler after stunning the collegiate wrestling world with a perfect 5-0 record and three ranked wins.
He moved down a wrestling class this season, won another Southern Scuffle title and now sits at No. 2 nationally in his weight class. (He finished seventh at nationals in 2018.)
But the business management/theater major — who counts “Tarzan” among his favorite nicknames — has had to battle injuries throughout his career. He was forced to redshirt his freshman season after shoulder surgery and then missed most of the 2016-2017 season with another injury. Rasheed was also dinged up at the start of last season and missed several bouts this year with a lower-leg injury.
He’s 15-0 this season but has missed six of the last seven matches. The lone exception was Michigan on Feb. 1, when he earned a 5-3 decision over No. 20 Jelani Embree (12-4).
“I didn’t get to compete in the last five matches maybe, so that’s been pretty hard,” Rasheed said. “But I’m out here now. I’m ready for Big Tens and nationals, so that’s the only thing that matters, right?
“But I’m happy I’m able to get out there in front of the crowd for one last hoorah, and that’ll be fun.”
Brady Berge (149 pounds) remains a bit of an enigma.
After missing five straight duals for undisclosed reasons, he returned Sunday against Illinois and finished with an impressive 15-4 major decision over Christian Kanzler. So, does that mean Sunday’s dual against Buffalo might reveal who Penn State is bringing to the postseason?
Is it anything like the Rasheed-Anthony Cassar situation from last year where the starter in the last dual went on to start in the postseason? Well, no, Sanderson said, it’s not like that case at all — but it might still follow a similar pattern:
“Berge wrestled two days ago and looked pretty darn good so, yeah, probably — whoever wrestles this week would probably be who you see in the postseason,” Sanderson said. “That would make sense.”
Honoring the seniors
Redshirt senior Jason Nolf likes to joke about keeping the names of his “secret” moves, well, secret — and Penn State apparently feels the same way about Senior Day.
A Penn State spokesperson declined to release the names of the seniors who will be honored for Senior Day during Sunday’s dual against Buffalo. Instead, he said, that information will be made available Sunday.
Sanderson also couldn’t recall the exact number who were being honored and didn’t mention names. But he did say, it was “more than I’d like.”
Nolf and Bo Nickal, the reigning national champs, are the two biggest names Sunday. But stay tuned to see what, if any, surprises are in store.
Scott Stossel a ‘great story’
Sanderson took a few minutes Tuesday to reflect on Stossel’s accomplishment over the weekend, when the senior picked up his first Big Ten dual win with a 6-4 decision over Illinois’ Joshua Contreras.
Stossel is a walk-on out of North Allegheny High School.
“I’m happy for Scotty,” Sanderson said. “Great story. He was a kid who was in the Penn State Wrestling Club here and asked for a spot on the team a few years ago. And (he’s a) great student, hardworking kid — so we gave him a shot.
“I don’t think he ever expected to wrestle for the team, but he got that opportunity and had the Big Ten win. So got to wrestle in the Jordan Center, got to wrestle at Rec Hall and in the Big Ten, so I think he was excited.”