After the first day of the Southern Scuffle, Penn State is in its usual spot.
The Nittany Lions are atop the team standings with 47.5 points at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They lead Oklahoma State by three points with Cornell rounding out the top three.
Penn State had a solid first day with 12 wrestlers still alive and 10 of those wrestlers in the championship bracket. They will wrestle again in Saturday morning’s quarterfinals set to begin at 9 a.m.
The Nittany Lions have a wrestler alive to win a crown in nine of the 10 weight classes. They have a big advantage at 157 pounds as they have two wrestlers in that bracket.
The Nittany Lions finished 28-40 on the day with 19 of those wins coming with bonus points. They tallied four pins, eight technical falls and seven major decisions.
The big surprise of the day? Penn State had one of its starters eliminated.
Jimmy Gulibon, who was ranked No. 2 at 141 pounds, saw his run in the Southern Scuffle end on Friday. He opened the tournament with a 4-3 loss to Lehigh’s Cortlandt Schuyler in the second round. It was his first match since suffering an ankle injury in the Nittany Lion Open.
Gulibon came out firing. He got in two good shots but was unable to finish them off. With the loss, Gulibon dropped to the consolation bracket and stayed alive for just two more matches. Gulibon opened the consolation rounds with an 8-4 win over Appalachian State’s Payton Shuford. However, he was upset by Zac Hall, of Michigan, 6-3 to finish his day.
At 165 pounds, Penn State had three wrestlers in the field. They finished the night with all three still wrestling but only one in the championship hunt — Geno Morelli.
Morelli, who made a splash into the Nittany Lions’ lineup against Wisconsin, earned a 20-5 technical fall in his opener. Then he went through two tie-breakers to beat Appalachian State’s Forrest Przybysz 6-5 and land in the quarterfinals.
Garett Hammond and Shakur Rasheed each won their openers in the second round. Hammond was a 22-8 major decision winner while Rasheed picked up a first-period fall in 2:13. They dropped their next matches and will have to wrestle in the consolation bracket.
Penn State entered starter Jason Nolf and Zack Beitz at 157 pounds. Nolf racked up 20 takedowns in two matches and earned two technical falls. Meanwhile, Beitz had three matches on the day. He opened with a 20-2 technical fall and followed it with two decisions.
The Nittany Lions have Nico Megaludis (125), Jordan Conaway (133), Kade Moss (141), Zain Retherford (149), Bo Nickal (174), Matt McCutcheon (184) and Morgan McIntosh (197) in the championship rounds.
Megaludis’ day didn’t start until the third round. He had two byes because his second-round opponent didn’t make weight, and later was a 14-5 major decision winner. Conaway had a major decision and decision on the day. Moss used a fall, decision and tie-breaker decision to remain in the hunt. Retherford went fall and technical fall.
Nickal had a technical fall and major decision. McCutcheon used a fall and a 5-4 revenge win over North Carolina State’s Michael Macchiavello. Macchiavello gave McCutcheon his lone loss on the season back in the Nittany Lion Open. McIntosh opened with a 20-5 technical fall and finished with a major decision.
Kenny Yanovich (125), Jan Johnson (285) and Gary Dinmore (141) were also eliminated with Gulibon. Yanovich opened with a win but dropped his next two bouts. Johnson, who was wrestling for the first time since Penn State’s West Coast trip, went 0-2 on the day. Dinmore began with a 10-1 major decision and then dropped a 14-4 major decision. In his final match, he led 2-1 with three seconds left in the first period. Dinmore suffered an injury and had to forfeit the match.
Notes: The Nittany Lions were supposed to have 18 in the field but Vincenzo Joseph and Jered Cortez, who were going to wrestle unattached, were unable to compete. Joseph was unable to make weight while Cortez is dealing with a skin condition. ... Gulibon wasn’t the only No. 2 seed upset on Friday. West Virginia’s Zeke Moisey (125), the NCAA runner-up last year, opened the tournament with an 11-9 loss to Minnesota’s Steven Polakowski.