No. 1 Penn State wrestling survived its first scare of the season against No. 19 Wisconsin Sunday afternoon at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions trailed at three different points in the dual and as late as the sixth bout, but managed to pull away with an ugly 24-13 win against the Badgers.
How It Happened
Wisconsin got out to an early 4-0 lead when Badgers 125-pounder No. 15 Connor Brown majored Devin Schnupp 18-9. There were seven reversals in the bout, including three by Schnupp in the final period while he tried to cut into Brown’s 11-3 second period lead. Schnupp even had an opportunity to pin Brown after one reversal. Unfortunately for Schnupp, he was unable to make up much ground on Brown, who countered each reversal with one of his own.
No. 14 Roman Bravo-Young kicked off the scoring for the Nittany Lions with a major decision of his own. He beat Jens Lantz 12-4 after taking him down four times and wracking up more than two minutes of riding time. Bravo-Young nearly lost the bonus points in the final seconds on a shot attempt by Lenz, but he was unable to finish it in time.
Back-to-back upsets by the Badgers against top-ten Nittany Lions gave Wisconsin a 10-4 lead after four bouts.
The 141-lb. match brought a thriller to Rec Hall when Tristan Motan upset No. 4 Nick Lee in overtime. With the score tied 6-6 and beginning the third period on bottom, Lee quickly reversed Moran and was looking for a fall until Wisconsin coach Chris Bono stopped the action to challenge the reversal. The call stood, but an escape and takedown by Moran gave him a 9-8 lead. Lee was able to tie it and force sudden victory with his riding time point.
In the first sudden victory, Lee couldn’t finish his takedown, sending the match to two overtime periods. Moran escaped in the first overtime to go up 10-9 but Lee countered with an escape of his own when the clock reset to 30 seconds. The bout went to second sudden victory, where Moran won it with a takedown, handing Lee his first loss of the season and giving Wisconsin a 7-4 lead.
Cole Martin beat No. 9 Brady Berge 8-7 in similar scrappy fashion. Berge took down Martin three times in the first period to take a commanding 6-3 lead, but a 3-0 spurt by Martin in the second period sent the dual to the third period with the score tied. Berge quickly escaped to begin the period and take a 7-6 lead before Martin jumped ahead with a takedown.
No. 1 Jason Nolf got Penn State back on track before the intermission with a technical fall win against Devin Bahr. Nolf tallied up eleven takedowns and more than three minutes of riding time to win 25-10 and send the dual into intermission with the Nittany Lions trailing 10-9.
With No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph out of the lineup at 165 lbs. for the second time this weekend, freshman Mason Manville made his Rec Hall debut in his place against No. 3 Evan Wick. Filling in against a top-three wrestler, Manville turned in a tough performance of damage control, losing 6-1 and not allowing any bonus points. Wisconsin led 13-9 after Wick’s win.
Debuting a new walkout song (a song that is one for the ages), No. 1 Mark Hall said “Come on and slam and welcome to the space jam!” against Patrick Spray. Hall jumped out to a 12-1 lead in the first period and continued to pour on the offense, en route to a 24-5 technical fall win. With nearly four minutes of riding time, Hall led 18-5 late in the third period and needed only a takedown to secure the tech fall. Not only did he score a takedown, Hall hit a six-point move that blew the deficit open to 19 points and gave Penn State a 14-13 lead.
After Hall’s win, it looked more like a Penn State dual. No. 3 Shakur Rasheed came out firing against Mason Reinhardt, immediately taking him down and riding him out for the last 2:47 of the first period. After the quick takedown, Reinhardt managed to stay in the bout by wrestling defensively. He allowed a stall point, an escape, and a riding time point over the final two periods to lose 5-0 to Rasheed.
In the battle of how to properly spell their first name, No 1 Bo Nickal majored Beau Breske 14-4 at 197 lbs. This was the first full match Nickal has wrestled since November 30 and only his third of the season.
The dual ended at 285 lbs. with No. 4 Anthony Cassar facing No. 9 Trent Hilger in the afternoon’s only ranked-versus-ranked matchup. Cassar dominated Hilger from the start to finish taking him down five times en route to an 11-5 win.
- Although he once again gave up bonus points, Schnupp continued to show his improvement at 125 lbs. Wrestling as aggressively as he’s looked in two years, Schnupp reversed Brown three times and added a takedown. Devin Schnupp’s time is coming.
- Lee and Berge both looked sloppy. Both wrestlers lost late leads to unranked wrestlers and looked ineffective down the stretch. The good news for Penn State is both matches were very winnable. Building off of them will be more about learning how to pull away against lesser wrestlers than being outmatched against conference opponents.
- Manville wrestled tough against Wick in his varsity debut and remained in the bout until the finals seconds. Had this been any other opponent, he would’ve given Penn State a chance to win. Although Joseph isn’t expected to miss extended time, Manville proved to be a more than capable backup.
- Cassar is an offensive juggernaut, which is relatively unheard of for heavyweights. He continues to impress with his mix of agility and strength and could be a dangerous contender this March.
Penn State wrestling will be back in action on Sunday, January 20 to host Nebraska at Rec Hall.
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