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Wrestling Recap: Penn State 52, Kent State 3

I’ve always wondered what it must feel like to be an Alabama football fan.

As it turns out, I already know.

It feels the same way that it does to be a Penn State wrestling fan.

The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lions began their 2018-19 season at Rec Hall on Sunday against visiting Kent State and, boy, did they ever deliver.

Penn State won nine of 10 matches including seven pins and two tech falls en route to a 52-3 victory.

The dual meet opened at 125 pounds with Devin Schnupp who, in all likelihood, is just keeping the spot warm for either Brody Teske or Gavin Teasdale.

While Schnupp looked noticeably bigger and was able to finish a couple early shots, he faded badly in the last two periods and fell to Jake Ferri, 12-8.

Up at 133, true freshman Roman Bravo-Young made his PSU debut and looked outstanding in the process, using an newly found bar half series to build a big lead and eventually pick up the fall at 5:31 against Tim Rooney.

Returning All-American Nick Lee, sporting a pretty bulky knee brace on his right leg, looked just fine as he rolled to an 18-2 tech fall over Cory Simpson.

Redshirt freshman Jarod Verkleeren made his official Penn State debut in style against Kody Kamara. The Pennsylvania native looked to be in trouble when he got caught in a body lock but was able to adjust his hips and end up on top to pick up the fall at 1:20.

Jason Nolf looked every bit the inhuman oddity that he is, building a huge lead and then pinning Nick Monico at the 2:29 mark.

After the intermission, Vincenzo Joseph decided he wanted to join the pin parade. Joseph rolled out to a 9-3 lead after the first period and then stuck Isaac Bast for the pin at 3:40 of the second period.

Mark Hall appeared headed for a comfortable tech fall again Dylan Barreiro at 174 but it wasn’t enough for Hall. He locked up a sick gator roll and then tossed Barreiro to his back for the fall at 3:34.

Newly svelte Shakur Rasheed made his debut at 184 a memorable one against Kent State’s Andrew McNally. Rasheed got an early takedown and then went to work on top, picking up the fastest fall of the dual at the 1:13 mark.

The pin train, unsurprisingly, rolled on at 197 with Bo Nickal making his debut at the weight class. With Kyle Conel out due to injury, Nickal faced backup Shane Mast and did, well, what you’d expect Bo Nickal to do to a backup, pinning Mast at 2:06 of the first period.

Lastly, we had the newly beefed up Anthony Cassar with his first showing at heavyweight and, boy, was he ever impressive.

Cassar, looking just as quick as ever but much thicker throughout, dominated Kent State’s Billy Bolia and picked up a 17-2 tech fill at the 5:15 mark.

The Nittany Lions looked every bit the dominant force they were built up to be in the beginning of the season.

Jarod Verkleeren, in his debut showing, was named the Ridge Riley award recipient for the most outstanding wrestler.

Addtionally, this team continues to be a group of class clowns. The normally reserved Jason Nolf walked out to Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go” while Mark Hall came out to “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet and Rasheed to “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy.

I love this team so much.

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