Editor’s note: The Centre Daily Times will publish weekly updates based on NWCA coaches team and InterMat individual rankings to give readers a glimpse into how Penn State wrestling fits into the bigger picture.
After wrapping up its fourth consecutive undefeated season with a 47-3 trouncing of Buffalo on Sunday, Penn State wrestling once again ends the regular season as the unanimous No. 1 in the NWCA poll.
The Nittany Lions’ streak of earning all 16 first-place votes 30 straight National Wrestling Coaches Association team coaches polls was snapped last week when Oklahoma State picked up one vote. Despite the No. 2 Cowboys’ convincing 27-12 win over No. 3 Iowa on Sunday, the Nittany Lions were again the unanimous top pick in Tuesday’s poll.
The NWCA poll is voted on by two coaches from each Division I wrestling conference. Each first-place vote is worth 25 points, 24 for second place, 23 for third, etc.
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After Iowa, Michigan ended the season ranked No. 4, followed by Missouri, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Cornell and North Carolina State to round out the top 10.
The biggest change in the final NWCA poll was Iowa State’s fall from No. 11 to 15 after losing 22-13 to then-No. 17 Northern Iowa on Thursday night in a wild dual in front of a sold-out crowd in Cedar Falls. UNI finishes the season ranked 14th.
Individually, wrestlers made the most of their final duals this past weekend, as upsets were scattered across the NCAA. Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni pinned Iowa’s reigning national champ Spencer Lee at 125, and then-No. 2 Matt Kolodzik, of Princeton, was upended by unranked Parker Kropman, of Binghamton, just to name a few.
Some of the upsets came at a price for a couple of Penn State wrestlers in the InterMat poll. True freshman Roman Bravo-Young slipped one spot to No. 12 at 133 pounds, after Cornell’s Chas Tucker jumped from No. 13 to 10 after a win over No. 7 Luke Pletcher, of Ohio State. Missouri’s John Erneste also had a big win with a technical fall over Iowa State’s Austin Gomez.
Erneste moved up one spot to No. 9, and Gomez, who beat Bravo-Young by fall at the Southern Scuffle, fell two spots to No. 11.
Penn State’s Brady Berge fell two spots, to No. 13, after an 11-4 decision over Buffalo’s Jason Estevez. Berge and fellow redshirt freshman Jarod Verkleeren split the dual season at 149 pounds, but coach Cael Sanderson said the one who wrestled against Buffalo last Sunday would likely be who they bring to the postseason.
Iowa’s Pat Lugo made one of the biggest leap in Tuesday’s poll, moving up three spots after beating then-No. 5 Kaden Gfeller at Gallagher-Iba Arena — the biggest win for the Hawkeyes in their trip to Stillwater. Duke’s Mitch Finesilver also made a big leap — from 7 to 4 — after topping North Carolina’s talented freshman Austin O’Connor, 6-4.
Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen, whom Berge topped at the Southern Scuffle, moved one spot ahead of the Nittany Lion after a win over Missouri’s No. 6 Brock Mauler.
Ranks stayed the same for the rest of the Nittany Lion grapplers. Penn State ends the regular season with four No. 1 ranked wrestlers in Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (197). Nick Lee and Shakur Rasheed are ranked No. 2 at 141 and 184 pounds, respectively, and Anthony Cassar No. 3 at heavyweight.
The Nittany Lions are back in action March 9-10 at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Minnesota.
NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll
|1||Penn State (16)||14-0||400||1|
|23||Army West Point||8-3||51||24|
Others receiving votes: Illinois 8, Binghamton 7, Oklahoma 6, North Dakota State 3, Appalachian State 1
Dropped out: none