Wrestling: Top-ranked Penn State Downs Wisconsin 36-7 at the BJC
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State wrestling team took care of business in their first Bryce Jordan Center match of the season defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 36-7. Despite not selling the match out, the nearly 13,000 who came to watch certainly had a lot to cheer about. Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf had back-to-back pins and Penn State essentially iced it by the break, leading 25-0.
“It gets a little hairy for opponents in there I think,” said head coach Cael Sanderson. “I don’t know if that was a big momentum changer today, but I think it certainly could be. Those are two guys who you know are going to represent what we want Penn State wrestling to be.”
Nico Megaludis started off the match with a decisive 11-3 victory. After a slow start, Megaludis started to wrestle well halfway through the second period and accumulated three of his four takedowns after that point in the match. Penn State instantly had a double digit lead after Jordan Conway won the 133 weight class with a forfeit putting Penn State up 10-0.
“We had kind of a slow start today with the forfeit and also that concussion stoppage in Nico’s match,” Sanderson said.
Kade Moss won a somewhat uneventful match following the forfeit giving Penn State a 13-0 victory. The fireworks started after Moss’s match as Retherford, ranked No. 1 nationally at 149, took just 2:56 to pin Andrew Crone. The decisive victory was Retherford’s fourth pin of the season as he was in control for the duration of the match.
“[Crone] felt strong there for a while,” Retherford said. “I kind of made an adjustment and as the match goes on you could kind of feel him wearing down.”
Retherford’s strong showing was followed by a similarly dynamic performance from redshirt freshman Jason Nolf. Nolf recorded six takedowns alone in the first period and seemed content with letting his opponent TJ Ruschell accumulate points on escapes. Nolf was in full control and eventually pinned Ruschell at 6:00 for his team leading sixth pin of the season. The pin also gave Penn State the 25-0 lead going into the break.
“I just want to score a lot of points,” Nolf said. “I wasn’t turning him on top so I just kept cutting him and trying to take the energy out of him when he got up.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the match was Geno Morelli’s performance at 165. Morelli made his dual match debut against the third-ranked wrestler in the nation at 165, Isaac Jordan. Morelli entered the third period tied at 2-2 and got a late takedown with under a minute left to give himself a 4-2 lead that looked like it would stand. However, Jordan scored with an escape and a takedown with just a second left on the clock to squander a huge upset bid from Morelli.
“Geno was right there with Jordan, one of the best guys in the country,” Sanderson said. “I think that gives him a good idea of where he’s at, that he’s right there as well. I know he’s frustrated and he should be, but he can also use this as a confidence boost.”
Fifth-ranked Bo Nickal dominated 16th-ranked Ricky Robertson at 174, scoring a major victory at 16-2 and firmly securing the match victory for the Nittany Lions. Nickal scored 12 of his 16 points in the first period and nearly pinned Robertson before cruising through the next two periods. Matt McCutcheon also nearly scored a pin in his match, but had to settle for a 14-1 major victory as well. Morgan McIntosh took care of business at 197, winning 7-1 in controlling fashion.
The final match of the day was a mismatch from the outset between Devan Van Curan and Brock Horwath. Van Curan, who usually wrestles in the 180 weight class, was pushed up to face Horwath and easily conceded 40 pounds to the heavyweight. Horwath won the match 10-0 but Van Curan saved the Nittany Lion’s two points by wrestling instead of leaving the match as a forfeit.
“I thought he did a great job,” Sanderson said. “Obviously any coach will have some mixed feelings when you send someone out there who is that much smaller. I think he did a good job and I think he can’t get that experience wrestling at opens so it was good for him.”
With another decisive victory, the Penn State Nittany Lions moved to 5-0 on the year and 1-0 in the Big Ten conference. Penn State will take to the mat again next Saturday against Rider University.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.