LEWISBURG – D.J. Hollingshead spent the days leading up to Friday night’s match with Penn State visualizing taking down the Nittany Lions’ two-time defending champion Vincenzo Joseph.
The Bucknell senior left Sojka Arena with a memory that will last a lifetime.
The Bison 165-pounder didn’t face the No. 1-ranked Joseph, who stayed back in State College because he was ill. But Hollingshead used his preparation for Joseph to pull off the most thrilling win of the night, and the only one for the underdog Bison in the Nittany Lions’ 42-3 victory.
Hollingshead and Bo Pipher were tied at 5-5 and on a restart with 27 seconds left, the pair began to go at each other with a vengeance, each one looking for a moment like would be the one to hit the deck.
Just before the final buzzer, Hollingshead pummeled Pipher to his back for five points and a 10-5 win.
“The end was sweet,” Hollingshead (3-1) said. “I knew when there was 27 seconds left and we were staring at each other in the center of the mat that the last 20 seconds was going to be a dogfight.
“And it was. He came out and blasted into me and when it started getting wild, I didn’t want to become wild myself and I stayed planted and put him his back. It just felt great and then time ran out, I got up and the rest was history,” he said.
Hollingshead, a lifelong Penn State fan from Altoona, said, he prepared all week for Joseph and visualized taking him down and scoring points, but when he faced someone different, “I just put that person in and I still felt like I was wrestling Vincenzo Joseph and taking him down.”
Penn State (2-0), which was the big reason the announced crowd of 4,279 was the largest ever for a home Bucknell wrestling meet and the third largest ever at Sojka, showed why it is the three-time defending national champion, winning seven of the last eight titles
The Nittany Lions dominated in takedowns with a 47-2 advantage. But Bucknell’s two takedowns were more than memorable.
The first one came in the fifth bout of the night, at 157 pounds, when freshman Zach Hartman, although trailing 6-2, scored a takedown on No. 1-ranked and two-time national champion Jason Nolf. The latter rallied to pin Hartman in 3 minutes, 50 seconds.
And then there was the other one, by Hollingshead, which drew the biggest roar from the sell-out crowd.
Penn State had only three falls and no other back points, to which Sanderson attributed to the toughness and tenacity of the Bison (2-2).
“I think Bucknell had something to say about that. They were wrestling tough and they were wrestling really well, but our guys like to compete, and they like to score points. Twos add up quicker than fours and they kept wrestling,” Sanderson said.
Bucknell coach Dan Wirnsberger summed up the outcome of the meet by channeling former NFL coach Dennis Green, of Harrisburg, “They are who we thought they were.”
But he still considered the second of a home-and-home series with the Nittany Lions a win for his program.
“The event was awesome, it was just a win from the get-go,” Wirnsberger said. “The anticipation with it, knowing we were going to set a record (crowd) and people came to watch this tonight who have never seen a match before.”
The Bison coach added, “It’s about the sport of wrestling here in Pennsylvania. It’s an important sport in this area. I have to thank coach Sanderson for coming here and wrestling us in Sojka Pavilion. I’m just pleased with the overall event.”
But he was disappointed in the way his team performed in the first half of the meet. “I just didn’t think our effort and hustle was there and that’s one thing we pride ourselves in, in our program.”
But he said Hartman’s performance against Nolf was a spark for the second half of the match.
“I think the intermission helped a little bit and we came out with a better effort,” he said.
The teams are not scheduled to meet in the future but Wirnsberger said they will re-evaluate it a few years down the road.
Penn State 42, Bucknell 3
125: Devin Schupp (PS) dec. Geo Barzona, 5-2; 133: Roman Bravo-Young (PS) maj. dec. David Campbell, 20-7; 141: Nick Lee (PS) maj. dec. Matthew Kolonia, 15-5; 149: Brady Berge (PS) tech fall Joey Schiele, 25-10, 6:21; 157: Jason Nolf (PS) pinned Zach Hartman, 3:50; 165: D.J. Hollingshead (B) dec. Bo Pipher, 10-5; 174: Mark Hall (PS) maj. dec. Nick Stephani, 20-7; 184: Shakur Rasheed (PS) pinned Kyle Inlander, :32; 197: Bo Nickal (PS) maj. dec. Drew Phipps, 16-6; 285: Anthony Cassar (PS) pinned Brandon Stokes, :33.