After more than a year’s worth of build-up, No. 1 Penn State wrestling visited No. 2 Ohio State on Friday night for a highly anticipated dual. The Nittany Lions took control from the first bout of the night and never lost a grip on the Buckeyes en route to a 28-9 victory. Penn State won seven bouts, including two major upsets that will shake up this week’s rankings.
One thing that won’t change is the team ranking. Penn State won its 56th straight dual and will once again be ranked No. 1 in the land.
How It Happened
The dual began with back-to-back upsets in favor of the Nittany Lions. At 133 pounds., No. 16 Roman Bravo-Young returned to the lineup to face No. 6 Luke Pletcher. Bravo-Young and Pletcher exchanged escapes in the second and third periods before going to sudden victory with the score tied 1-1. Late in sudden victory, Pletcher had Bravo-Young by his leg and appeared to be on the way to a takedown before the Penn State freshman narrowly evaded the score that would’ve ended the bout.
In the first 30-second overtime period, Bravo-Young quickly escaped to go up 2-1. In the ensuing period where he was on top, Bravo-Young broke Pletcher down multiple times to hang on for the 2-1 win and give Penn State an early 3-0 lead. In celebration, Bravo-Young spiked his headgear, which cost the Nittany Lions a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
At 141 pounds, No. 2 Joey McKenna brought a 5-2 lead over No. 6 Nick Lee into the third period before Lee escaped and took him down to tie it. Lee trailed 6-5 after he released McKenna but jumped ahead with another takedown against the Buckeyes’ senior to go up 7-6 for the final score.
Lee’s win over McKenna was just his second against a top-10 opponent this season and should carry him toward the top of the rankings at 141. He took down McKenna three times in the bout, a rematch of a thriller in last season’s dual, which McKenna won 7-6.
Jared Verkleeren made his fourth straight start at 149 pounds over Brady Berge at 149. He met No. 3 Micah Jordan in a wild, back-and-forth bout. Late in the third period, Verkleeren took down Jordan to tie the score 8-8 but fell behind after a stalling call. Jordan escaped after the stall to extend his lead to 10-8 and help the Buckeyes cut the Nittany Lions’ lead down to 5-3.
No. 1 Jason Nolf dominated No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes for six minutes before winning by technical fall. Nolf won 21-6 after taking Hayes down eight times and piling up two and a half minutes of riding time.
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph rolled past No. 6 Te’Shawn Campbell with an 11-2 major decision to make the team score 14-3 at the intermission. Joseph took Campbell down four times in the win to remain undefeated this season and run his winning streak to 22 straight matches.
Wrestling resumed at 174 pounds with a bout between No. 1 Mark Hall and No. 17 Ethan Smith. Hall led Smith 2-1 entering the second and rode out the Buckeye for the entire period. Hall escaped and took Smith down four times during the third period to secure the 12-4 major with more than three minutes of riding time. Hall’s win made the team score 18-3.
At 184 pounds, fans didn’t get one of two promised No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-ups. No. 2 Shakur Rasheed was scratched from the lineup in favor of Mason Manville for Penn State against No. 1 Myles Martin. Martin set the tone early, taking Manville down 25 seconds into the bout. He took down Manville seven more times to win 18-6 and cut the Nittany Lions’ lead to 18-6 after the Buckeyes lost a point for challenging a call late.
No. 1 Bo Nickal showed just how wide the gap is between him and literally every other wrestler at 197 by pinning No. 2 Kollin Moore at 1:38. It was Nickal's second consecutive pin against an Ohio State wrestler, following his epic fall against Martin in last year’s 184-pound NCAA final.
No. 3 Anthony Cassar kept the onslaught coming with a big 18-8 major decision over No. 19 Chase Singletary. Cassar took Singletary down at least two times in each period for a total of eight takedowns in the win.
The dual ended at 125 pounds with Devin Schnupp facing Malik Heinselman. Schnupp lost 7-4, making the final score 28-9.
The Nittany Lions return home to face Michigan State at Rec Hall on Friday, Feb. 15.