Sunday’s dual between Penn State and Lehigh was going to be a dandy before the season began, with the two teams having a combined 17 returning NCAA qualifiers.
At least half of the matchups would’ve showcased two ranked wrestlers battling against each other in the 107th meeting between the No. 1 Nittany Lions and No. 8 Mountainhawks.
However, Lehigh came in missing six starters, and Penn State (3-0) shut out the Mountainhawks 42-0 on way to its 48th straight dual victory.
“I think our guys wrestled well,” Nittany Lions’ coach Cael Sanderson said. “They were finishing the periods with some hustle and matches on top. We know they had several guys out of the lineup but our guys still wrestled well.”
It was the first time Lehigh (0-3) was shutout since 2007, when Penn State did it. It was the Nittany Lions’ first shutout since the Buffalo dual last February.
Penn State also kept the Mountainhawks from recording a takedown to its 47 takedowns. For the weekend, the Nittany Lions held a 97-3 takedown advantage.
“They have a pretty special team right now. Those guys are doing everything right,” Mountainhawks coach Pat Santoro said. “We didn’t follow the game plan all the time. We let the momentum of the match get away from us. In the bigger matches, we didn’t attack enough and that was the difference. “
Those bigger matches were the three ranked matchups that did occur. They came at 174, 197 and 285 pounds.
The dual started with No. 1 Bo Nickal taking on No. 15 Jake Jakobsen at 197 pounds. Nickal raced out to a 10-2 first-period lead thanks to three takedowns and four near-fall points.
He kept the pressure on Jakobsen and came away with a dual-opening technical fall in 5:31.
No. 5 Anthony Cassar began with an emphatic double-leg takedown No. 6 Jordan Wood. Cassar picked Wood up over his shoulders and finished the takedown safely.
It almost seemed as though it shook Wood’s mentality. Cassar tacked on four more takedowns with ease in the match to earn a 12-3 major decision over the returning NCAA qualifier.
No. 2 Mark Hall had a hard time with No. 7 Jordan Kutler for a second straight year at 174 pounds. Neither scored in the first period.
Hall used an escape and takedown to have a 3-0 lead going into the final period. He added one more in the third period for a hard-fought 6-2 decision. Penn State led 38-0 with one bout left.
“Kutler is a really tough wrestler. He’s really great at positioning and just great fundamentals,” Sanderson said. “They wrestled a couple times last year. It seemed like it was a one-takedown match, so I was glad to see Mark get two (takedowns). I think he wrestled well. When he needed to go score, you saw a little more urgency, and he was able to go score.”
The rest of the Nittany Lions’ lineup had no problems scoring on Sunday.
Devin Schnupp earned his second dual-meet victory with a 6-1 win over Luke Resnick, who is a backup, at 125 pounds. Schnupp controlled the match from beginning to end.
Penn State fans got to see even more athleticism from true freshman Roman Bravo-Young at 133 pounds.
Leading 4-2, Bravo-Young’s opponent Brandon Paetzell, who replaced starter No. 8 Scott Parker, was deep in on a single-leg shot. The two jostled near the center of the mat with Paetzell holding Bravo-Young’s right leg high in the air and the Arizona native jumping on one leg.
Bravo-Young took one more jump and did a back flip, keeping the scramble alive and not giving up any points. He came out with a single-leg takedown that impressed the entire crowd — even Sanderson.
“Is that what that was? The ref was blocking my view,” said Sanderson with a laugh, when asked about his thoughts on Bravo-Young’s flip. “I wouldn’t consider that base-line defense. We tend to teach that more. I told (assistant coach) Cody (Sanderson) it’s a good thing they worked on that earlier in the week, because it really came in handy.
“I think if Cody tried that move, he’d probably just die. Roman has a lot of athleticism. He’s very springy, bouncy and explosive, that is certainly not a go to defense but the crowd enjoyed it.”
The Nittany Lions led 16-0 and didn’t look back.
Nick Lee handed Penn State a 20-0 lead at the break with a 23-10 major decision over Ryan Pomrinca. Out of the break, Jarod Verkleeren got the start at 149 pounds and edged out Jimmy Hoffman, who was replacing an injured Luke Karam, 5-3.
Jason Nolf picked up career pin No. 51 in 6:19. He is now only two away from tying the all-time mark with Zain Retherford, David Taylor and Josh Moore.
Vincenzo Joseph was back in the lineup after missing Friday’s dual against Bucknell being sick. He looked good racking up 13 first-period points before pinning Trey Cornish in the second period.
Shakur Rasheed finished the dual off with an 11-2 major decision at 184 pounds.
“I think our guys wrestled well, but we also saw half of Lehigh’s team, so who knows,” Sanderson said. “Attitude seems to be where it needs to be and that what’s important to us. If today was the first day of the national tournament, we’re ready to go, regardless of who our opponents are.”
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No. 1 Penn State 42, No. 8 Lehigh 0
Sunday at University Park
197: No. 1 Bo Nickal, PSU, tech. fall No. 15 Jake Jakobsen, 19-4 (5:31)
285: No. 5 Anthony Cassar, PSU, major dec. No. 6 Jordan Wood, 12-3
125: Devin Schnupp, PSU, dec. Luke Resnick, 6-1
133: Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, major dec. Brandon Paetzell, 13-5
141: No. 4 Nick Lee, PSU, major dec. Ryan Pomrinca, 23-10
149: Jarod Verkleeren, PSU, dec. Jimmy Hoffman, 5-3
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf, PSU, pinned Josh Humphreys, 6:19
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, pinned Trey Cornish, 4:47
174: No. 2 Mark Hall, PSU, dec. No. 7 Jordan Kutler, 6-2
184: No. 4 Shakur Rasheed, PSU, major dec. Andrew Price, 11-2
Takedowns: Lehigh 0, Penn State 47
Records: Lehigh 0-3, Penn State 3-0
Next match: No. 16 Arizona State at No. 1 Penn State, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.