Preview: Penn State vs Ohio State Wrestling
The last time Penn State and Ohio State met, the Big Ten Duel championship was on the line in front of a capacity crowd in Rec Hall. Nick Nevills needed to beat Kyle Snyder or only lose by decision to clinch the conference title. Nevills did concede a loss to Snyder, but by a score of 15-10 making Penn State the best wrestling team in the Big Ten for the third year in a row.
The two teams were the obvious front-runners for the National Championship; Penn State looked to win their seventh title in eight years, while the Buckeyes looked to end the Nittany Lions’ reign at the top.
The 184 pound matchup was the focal point as Myles Martin looked to keep his team in the race as Bo Nickal aimed to put Penn State back on the mountaintop. Martin had Nickal on his back as the first period was closing yet the shifty Nickal flipped Martin on his back to get the pin as Penn State clinched the national title.
“I train every day so I can come out here and be an NCAA champion, so we can win team titles at Penn State. That’s what we do,” Nickal said.
The Nittany Lions will look to continue their winning ways over Ohio State this weekend in a matchup set for Feb. 8 in Columbus, Ohio at 8:30 p.m.
Penn State (10-0, 6-0) and Ohio State (9-1, 5-1) always put on a show when the two compete in any sport, but the wrestling matches are another level. These two teams want nothing more than bragging rights and the victory at the end of the day.
Ohio State recently lost to Michigan by two points, the same Michigan squad that the Nittany Lions were victorious over last Friday. This means that the Buckeyes will be coming out hungry and looking to prove that they are still a contender national championship next month.
The night will start off with two unranked athletes, even though this matchup can fire up the crowd early in St. John’s Arena.
Of the five common opponents Nittany Lion Devin Schnupp and Buckeye Malik Heinselman have faced this season, Schnupp holds a 1-4 record while Heinselman is 2-3. These two competitors have the ability to score the first team points of the duel which could get one team ahead early.
Moving to 133 pounds, Ohio State will send out junior Luke Pletcher, who is as deadly as they come in the division. Pletcher will not know who he is facing until the lineups are announced, as Roman Bravo-Young is still nursing a knee injury from his match against Purdue.
Coach Cael Sanderson did not give any more indication on the status of Bravo-Young ahead of this week’s matchup. Scott Stossel started at 133 pounds last weekend for the Nittany Lions and would be the assumed starter if Sanderson wants to keep Bravo-Young out of danger ahead of the national tournament.
At 141 pounds, the first top 10 clash will take place between Nick Lee and Joseph McKenna. McKenna got the best of Lee in the duel last year winning by a just one point. Lee has rebounded from a lost against Wisconsin to win his next two matches by a combined score of 27-10. McKenna and Lee love to collect those bonus points.
Ohio State’s top-ranked Micah Jordan will square off against either Brady Berge or Jarod Verkleeren at 149 pounds. Jordan moved down from 157 to 149 this season. Jordan holds an 18-1 record thus far as his only loss came at the hands of now first ranked Anthony Ashnault from Rutgers.
Berge and Verkleeren continue to trade the starting role as Sanderson has not put his faith in one guy just yet. This is very similar to last season between Shakur Rasheed and Anthony Cassar at 197 pounds. Sanderson did not select the “starter” in that case until the national tournament in March. Berge or Verkleeren will surely give Jordan a run for his money even with the amount of experience that Jordan has over his younger opponents.
Jason Nolf will get the start for the Nittany Lions against Ke-Shawn Hayes at 157 pounds. This one will most likely be short and sweet for Penn State fans. Nolf is on a warpath to win his third individual title while Hayes is 3-3 in his last six matches. Do not take a bathroom break here as Nolf may score a quick fall to send Penn State into the intermission on a high note.
Coming back from the intermission and staring at 165 pounds will be Vincenzo Joseph and Te’shan Campbell. Joseph and Campbell have met twice in the past, with Joseph coming out on top by a combined score of 21-8. Joseph squeaked by Logan Massa of Michigan last week in sudden victory, therefore this matchup against Campbell should be an easy win for the top ranked Nittany Lion.
The 174 pound match will feature Mark Hall and Ethan Smith from Ohio State. Smith is ranked 17th as a redshirt freshman, which is impressive in its own right. Hall will handle Smith in a timely fashion, score some bonus points and be on the bench cheering his teammates for the rest of the night.
The final three weights of the duel all have mini-storylines built in that can really impact the night’s conclusion.
At 184 pounds, Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed will face off against top-ranked Myles Martin. Martin has faced only one top 10 wrestler thus far, while Rasheed has not faced one. Rasheed does hold an advantage over Martin as Rasheed’s teammate Bo Nickal holds a career 2-6 record against Martin.
If Nickal can instruct Rasheed on how he as beaten Martin in the past, this match could finally show a wrestling community that doubts Rasheed that he is the real deal at 184.
Moving to 197, we have the aforementioned Nickal against the second ranked Kollin Moore. Moore has been at this weight his entire college career with a honorable 93-12 record, while this is Nickal’s first year at 197 pounds.
Nickal and Moore have never wrestled in their careers, but Nickal has a teammate who has met Moore before: Anthony Cassar. Cassar beat Moore 6-3 last year in Rec Hall and Moore never recovered, as he placed 4th in the country last year.
Nickal is an incredible wrestler as it is and with the knowledge that Cassar can lend, Moore will have a rough time on Friday if he cannot return to form.
Last but not least, are the heavyweights Anthony Cassar and Chase Singletary. Singletary is ranked 16th as a redshirt freshman while Cassar is ranked third. If the result of this duel comes down to this match, Cassar will outclass Singletary. Cassar is simply too used to the big stage and will show Singletary that his time is not now.
Match Prediction: Penn State over Ohio State 25-14.
Ryan Simpson is a senior majoring in statistics and minoring in sociology. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.