As always, Rec Hall was filled to the brim Thursday evening to watch Cael Sanderson and his seven-time national championship team take to the mat. The Nittany Lions opened their season in a dominating fashion with five pins, one major and one tech fall to finish off Army West Point, 45-3.
“We’re just happy to be rolling,” Sanderson said. The Penn State wrestling community couldn’t agree more.
An unexpected, new face made his collegiate debut at 125 against Army, redshirt freshman Devin Schnupp. In case you missed the tabloid news, over the summer, PSU’s 125-pounder from last year, Nick Suriano, decided to transfer to Rutgers. So, Schnupp got the go ahead at 125. Schnupp fought hard in his 6-4 loss to Army’s Trey Chalifoux. He notched a late takedown in the third, cut Chalifoux loose and couldn’t finish the last takedown in the final :25 to tie things up. As his confidence on the mat continues to grow throughout this season, he’s going to hold his own at 125.
Other new faces include senior Central Michigan transfer No. 15 Corey Keener at 133, junior Illinois transfer Jered Cortez at 141 and sophomore Anthony Cassar at 197. Cortez and Cassar started the season with strong decision wins and Keener sent the Rec Hall crowd wild with a pin at the 2:50 mark.
Of course our legendary middle lineup didn’t disappoint. We’ll never forget the five back-to-back championship wins from weight classes 149-184 at the NCAAs last year. The bulk of our bonus points and key match wins will be coming from middle of the lineup this season.
No. 1 Zain Retherford kicked things off with a tech fall at 149, followed by a pin from No. 1 Jason Nolf at 157. No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph continued the bonus-point trend with a major decision at 165, which No. 2 Mark Hall followed with another pin at 174.
Then there’s Bo. Finishing up this powerhouse of a middle-lineup, No. 1 Bo Nickal came out and pinned Army’s Noah Stewart in just 26 seconds. Rec Hall absolutely lost it.
Heavyweight No. 3 Nick Nevills finished the match in picture-perfect fashion with a pin. Sanderson is expecting big things from Nevills this season, including lots of bonus point wins.
Match two of this season takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall. The Lions host Bucknell to wrap up their season-opening show at home.
Ladies and gentleman, wrestling season has officially begun.
BOUT BY BOUT:
125: AWP Trey Chalifoux dec. PSU Devin Schnupp, 6-4
133: PSU #15 Corey Keener pinned AWP Lane Peters, WBF (2:50)
141: PSU Jered Cortez dec. AWP Austin Harry, 12-6
149: PSU #1 Zain Retherford tech fall AWP Knox Fuller, 17-1 (TF; 4:13)
157: PSU #1 Jason Nolf pinned AWP Lucas Weiland, WBF (1:53)
165: PSU #1 Vincenzo Joseph maj. dec. AWP Andrew Mendel, 17-7
174: PSU #2 Mark Hall pinned AWP #19 Ben Harvey, WBF (4:09)
184: PSU #1 Bo Nickal pinned AWP Noah Stewart, WBF (0:26)
197: PSU Anthony Cassar dec. AWP Rocco Caywood, 10-3
285: PSU #3 Nick Nevills pinned AWP Bobby Heald, WBF (6:10)
Season Pin Count: 5