Penn State Wrestling Crowns Two Big Ten Champions

jason-nolf-penn-state
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No. 1 Penn State (14-0, 9-0 B1G) crowned two individual champions and will send at least eight wrestlers to the NCAA Championships as the 2017 Big Ten Championship tournament concluded. Junior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) and sophomore Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.) each claimed titles at the event and were honored with the conference’s two biggest individual awards at the end of the tournament.

(Photo: Jason Nolf. Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

Nolf was named the 2017 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and Retherford was named the 2017 Big Ten Championship Outstanding Wrestler. Penn State has eight NCAA qualifiers secured with the potential for one more when at-large bids are announced Tuesday evening. Penn State will head to the NCAA Championships looking to win their sixth NCAA title in the last seven years.

The Nittany Lions trailed by 22.0 points before the first Lion took the mat and mounted a furious comeback, cutting Ohio State’s lead to as little as 4.0 before trailing by 7.0 heading into the final session. Needing a near-perfect showing in the finals and placing bouts, as well as some help along the way, Penn State nearly pulled off a stellar comeback to win its sixth Big Ten title in the last seven years. But the Buckeye lead was, in the end, too much to overcome. Penn State took second place with 130.0 points while Ohio State won with 139.5. Iowa was third with 112.5.

Retherford, the No. 1 seed at 149, was Penn State’s first finalist of the day, taking on No. 5 Micah Jordan of Ohio State in a critical match-up. Retherford notched a takedown midway through the opening period and finished off the stanza on top to lead 2-0 with 1:22 in riding time after one. He picked up another takedown and a stall point to lead 5-0 after two periods and then escaped to start the third period and lead 6-0. The Lion senior then rolled over Jordan in the third period, notching two takedowns, four near falls, a stall point and 3:23 in riding time to post a dominating 16-1 technical fall at the 7:00 mark. Retherford’s win earned him his second straight Big Ten title and pulled Penn State to within 5.5 points in the team race.

Retherford heads to the NCAA Champion coming off a 4-0 Big Ten tournament that included three pins and a technical fall in the title bout. Retherford leaves Indiana with a 23-0 record, 16 pins, three techs and a major. He now has 35 career pins, fifth all-time at Penn State.

Nolf, the No. 1 seed at 157, met No. 2 Michael Kemerer of Iowa in the finals at 157. Nolf notched a late takedown in the first period to lead 2-0 after the opening stanza. After Kemerer chose down, Nolf maintained control of the Hawkeye long enough to push his riding time edge well over 1:00. The Lion sophomore cut Kemerer loose to a 2-1 score and added a second takedown with just :01 left on the clock to lead 4-1 after two periods. Nolf escaped to a 5-1 lead to start the third period and took Kemerer down with just over :30 left to take a 7-1 lead. He cut the Buckeye loose but time ran out before he could finish a major-clinching takedown. The Lion, with 1:09 in riding time, picked up his first Big Ten title with an 8-2 decision and pulled Penn State to within 1.5 points in the team race.

Nolf went 3-0 with two pins to claim his first Big Ten title. The sophomore will head to NCAAs with a perfect 22-0 record, including 13 pins, six techs and a major. Nolf has 28 career pins to date, 16th all-time at Penn State.

True freshman Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), the No. 2 seed at 174, was Penn State’s final finalist, meeting No. 3 Bo Jordan of Ohio State in the championship match at 174. Hall opened the bout with a quick takedown at the 1:50 mark, taking an early 2-0 lead. He then controlled Jordan for 1:11 before the Buckeye escaped to a 2-1 score. Hall had a late takedown waved off on review and led 2-1 with 1:11 in time after two periods. Jordan escaped to a 2-2 tie before Hall answered with another takedown to open up a 4-2 lead. Jordan reversed the Lion freshman and tied the bout at 4-4. Action moved into a sudden victory period where Jordan notched a takedown :20 in to clinch the 6-4 (sv) win. The Buckeye win put Penn State 4.5 points behind in the team race.

Hall, a true freshman, went 2-1 with a pin to finish as Big Ten Runner-Up in his first conference championship. Hall heads to St. Louis with a 26-3 overall record, including 12 pins, two techs and a major.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the No. 4 seed at 165, faced No. 15 Nick Wanzek of Minnesota in the consolation semifinals. Joseph gave up an early counter takedown and then stormed back to lead 4-3 after one period. After a second period spent with Joseph in control, the Lion used a trip and throw in the third period to pin Wanzek at the 5:47 mark and move into the third place match. Joseph took on No. 3 Isaac Jordan for third. After a scoreless first period, Joseph took control in the second. He escaped to a 1-0 lead then picked up two takedowns to lead 5-1 heading into the third period. Jordan escaped to a 5-2 score at the 1:39 mark and that was the last scoring of the bout. Joseph’s strong 5-2 decision earned him third place as the fourth seed and pulled the Nittany Lions to within 0.5 points in the team race.

Joseph went 3-1 with a pin to take third place as the fourth seed. He will head to St. Louis and his first NCAA Championship with a 17-4 overall record, including two pins, four techs and three majors.

Sophomore Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 1 seed at 184, took on No. 11 Emery Parker of Illinois in the consolation semifinals. Nickal easily downed No. 11 Emery Parker of Illinois, posting an 8-2 decision to advance to the third place bout. The Lion sophomore took on No. 4 TJ Dudley of Nebraska in the bronze medal match. Nickal opened up fast, leading 4-2 after two quick takedowns. But Dudley tied the bout as the first period ended 4-4. Nickal chose down to start the second period and the duo traded three reversals. Nickal reversed Dudley, Dudley answered and then Nickal reversed back. The Lion led 8-7 after two periods and cut Dudley loose to an 8-8 tie to start the third. He iced the bout with an outstanding throw for a takedown and four back points, rolling to a 14-9 decision to take third place.

Nickal went 3-1 with a pin to take third place at 184. He will head to NCAAs with a stellar 21-1 record, including 14 pins and three majors. Nickal has 22 career pins, nearing Penn State’s top 20 list.

Junior Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), the No. 4 seed at 197, met No. 14 Ricky Robertson of Wisconsin in the consolation semifinals. McCutcheon gave up an early takedown, but rode Robertson out in the second period and posted a thrilling 3-2 win off 1:01 in riding time. McCutcheon took on No. 6 Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska for third place. The duo battled through a scoreless first period and Studebaker escaped to start the second to take a 1-0 lead. McCutcheon escaped to tie the bout in the third and nearly notched a late takedown. Studebaker skipped away and the bout moved to sudden victory. Studebaker escaped in his tie-breaker session to take a 2-1 lead. McCutcheon then countered that by deftly reversing the Cornhusker with :10 left and holding on for a 3-2 (tb) win to take third place as the fourth seed.

McCutcheon went 3-1 at the tournament and heads to his third NCAA Championship with an 18-4 overall record, including a pin and two majors.

Sophomore Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), the No. 3 seed at 285, met Rutgers’ Razohnn Gross in the consolation semifinals. Nevills kept Penn State’s team title hopes alive by pinning Razohnn at the 3:32 mark. The fall, Nevills’ third of the tournament, earned the Lion sophomore a trip to the NCAA Championships and a spot in the third place bout. He took on No. 8 Michael Kroells of Minnesota for third and posted a 2-0 decision. Nevills used a third period takedown and ride out to lead 2-0 after one period. He then rode Kroells out in the second but could not escape the Gopher in the third period to post the 2-0 win. Nevills took third place with the victory.

Nevills went 4-1 with three pins at the tournament. He will head to the NCAA Championships with a 20-3 overall recording, including seven pins, three techs and a major.

Senior Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.) met No. 24 Cole Martin of Wisconsin for seventh place. Gulibon opened up an early 2-1 lead but got caught in a cradle on the edge of the mat and lost by fall at the 1:11 mark. Gulibon ended the tournament with a 1-3 mark, finished eighth and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

True freshman Nick Suriano (Paramus, N.J.), the No. 2 seed at 125, ended his tournament with an early injury default Saturday morning. Suriano, 0-1 at the tourney, will be in the pool for an at-large bid at 125 when the NCAA announces the full field (including at-large bids) for the 2017 NCAA Championships. The announcement takes place on Tuesday evening. Red-shirt freshman Triston Law (Windber, Pa.) went 0-2 in session one and bowed out of the tournament at 133.

Eight have earned spots in the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships two weeks from now in St. Louis’ Scottrade Center on March 16-18 with the potential for one more (Suriano) when at-large bids are announced. Penn State nearly pulled off the team comeback, posting a 10-2 overall record in sessions three and four. The Nittany Lions ended the tournament 23-12 overall. Penn State picked up 23.5 bonus point off 11 pins and one tech fall over the two-day event. Penn State finished the tournament with 11 pins, just one shy of the all-time tournament record held by Iowa. Retherford had three, Nolf two, Joseph one, Hall one, Nickal one and Nevills three.

Penn State will now head to St. Louis, Mo., for the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 16-18 in the Scottrade Center. The three-day event begins on Thursday with sessions at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern. The entire NCAA Championship event will air on ESPN, with all three morning sessions airing on ESPNU and all three evening sessions airing on ESPN. At-large bids will be announced on Tuesday, March 7. The full brackets and seeds will be announced on Wednesday, March 8, at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.

Penn State Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at @pennstateWREST, on Penn State Wrestling’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pennstatewrest. The 2016-17 Penn State wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline. This is PENN STATE. WRESTLING lives here.

2017 Big Ten Championships – Team Standings (top five) FINAL:
March 5, 2017 – Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Ind.

1: Ohio State – 139.5
2: PENN STATE – 130.0
3: Iowa – 112.5
4: Nebraska – 102.5
5: Minnesota – 93.0

Weight-by-weight agate (rankings listed are Coaches Poll as of 2/23/17)
* indicates unattached wrestler, not eligible for team scoring

125: #2 Nick Suriano, Fr. – 2nd seed – 0-1 overall, DNP

Rd. 1: vs. Ben Thornton, Purdue – L, inj. def. (0:01)
Cn. 1: Medical Forfeit (team total loss, not a loss for Suriano)

True freshman Nick Suriano (Paramus, N.J.), the No. 2 seed at 125, stepped on the mat against Purdue’s Ben Thornton for one second and then took an injury default loss. Suriano will medically forfeit out of the tournament and leaves Bloomington with a 16-3 overall record (having lost his last two matches with injury defaults). Suriano will be in the pool for an at-large bid at 125 when the NCAA announces the full field (including at-large bids) for the 2017 NCAA Championships.

133: Triston Law, Fr. – 14th seed – 0-2 overall, DNP

Rd 1: vs. #5 Cory Clark, Iowa – L, 12-3 maj. dec.
Cn 1: vs. Jason Ipsarides, Northwestern – L, 2-4 dec.

Red-shirt freshman Triston Law (Windber, Pa.) took on third-seed and No. 5 Cory Clark in the first round at 133. Law fell behind 8-3 after one period and dropped a 12-3 major decision. He took on Northwestern’s Jason Ipsarides in the first round of consolation action and dropped a tough 4-2 decision, ending his tournament with an 0-2 mark.

141: #10 Jimmy Gulibon, Sr. – 2nd seed – 1-3, 8th place — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. #21 Javier Gasca, Michigan State – LBF (6:20)
Cn 2: vs. #28 Sal Profaci, Michigan – W, 7-3 dec.
Cn Qtr: vs. Ryan Diehl, Maryland – LBF (0:45)
7th place: vs. #24 Cole Martin, Wisconsin – LBF (1:11)

Senior Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), the No. 2 seed at 141, received a first round bye. He met No. 21 Javier Gasca in the quarterfinals. Gulibon fell behind 3-1 early in the second period and was pinned late in the third (6:20), sending him to the consolation bracket.

Gulibon took on Michigan’s Sal Profaci in the second round of consolations, kicking off Penn State’s session. Gulibon gave up a reversal to start the second period and fell behind 2-0, but the Lion senior roared back to post a strong 7-3 decision with 1:43 in riding time to move into the consolation quarters and punch his ticket to the NCAA Championships. Gulibon lost to Maryland’s Ryan Diehl in conso quarters, moving to the seventh place match.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

149: #1 Zain Retherford, Jr. – 1st seed – CHAMPION — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: vs. Nat Limmex, Purdue – WBF (6:21)
Qtrs: vs Nick Trimble, Michigan State – WBF (4:45)
Semis: vs. Alfred Bannister, Maryland – WBF (6:01)
Finals: vs. #5 Micah Jordan, Ohio State – W, 16-1 (TF; 7:00)

Junior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 149, took on Purdue’s Nate Limmex in the first round. The Lion junior built up a 14-2 lead before turning Limmex to his shoulders for a pin at the 6:21 mark, picking up Penn State’s first win of the tournament and vital bonus points. Retherford then took on Michigan State’s Nick Trimble in the quarterfinals and picked up a second straight pin, this one at the 4:45 mark. The two falls were Retherford’s 14th and 15th of the year. The win moved Retherford into the semifinals and punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships.

Retherford was the first of seven Penn State semifinalists. Retherford met Maryland’s Alfred Bannister and pinned the Terrapin. Retherford took Bannister down midway through the first period and two turns later led 10-0 after one period. He led 12-0 after two periods and, after Bannister chose down to start the third period, turned him for the pin at the 6:01 mark.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

157: #1 Jason Nolf, So. – 1st seed – CHAMPION — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. #26 TJ Ruschell, Wisconsin – WBF (5:58)
Semis: vs. #9 Jake Short, Minnesota – WBF (6:09)
Finals: vs. #2 Michael Kemerer, Iowa – W, 8-2 dec.

Sophomore Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 157, received a bye in the first round. He took on TJ Ruschell of Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. Nolf rolled up a big 21-7 lead midway through the third period and, needing a quick move to avoid winning by just a technical fall, muscled the Badger to his back and picked up the pin at the 5:58 mark. The fall, Nolf’s 12th of the year, moved him into the semifinals and secured a spot in the NCAA Championships.

Nolf took on No. 9 Jake Short of Minnesota in the semis. Nolf led 5-4 after one, giving up a first period takedown. The Lion then blew the bout open to lead 13-6 after two, including a dazzling late cradle on the edge of the mat to open up the big lead. After a couple third period takedowns, Nolf wrapped up another cradle and this time finished off the move by getting a pin at the 6:09 mark.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

165: #4 Vincenzo Joseph, Fr. – 4th seed – 3rd place — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. #16 Joey Gunther, Iowa – W, 8-3 dec.
Semis vs. #1 Isaiah Martinez, Illinois – L, 5-8 dec.
Cn Semi: vs. #15 Nick Wanzek, Minnesota – WBF (5:47)
3rd Place: vs. #3 Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin – W, 5-2 dec.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the No. 4 seed at 165, received a first round bye. He met No. 16 Joey Gunther of Iowa in the quarterfinals and rolled to an 8-3 decision off three takedowns and escape and over 1:00 in riding time. The win moved Joseph into the semifinals and punched his ticket to nationals.

Joseph met top-seed and top-ranked Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in the semifinals. The duo wrestled a fast pace in the first period with Martinez finishing off two takedowns to lead 4-2 after the opening period. Martinez staved off a late Joseph rally, including a late reversal, to post the 8-5 win.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

174: #5 Mark Hall, Fr. – 2nd seed – Runner-Up — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. #24 Jacob Morrissey, Purdue – WBF (0:29)
Semis: vs. #11 Zach Brunson, Illinois – W, 4-2 dec.
Finals: vs. #3 Bo Jordan, Ohio State – L, 4-6 (sv) dec.

True freshman Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), the No. 2 seed at 174, received a first round bye. He met No. 24 Jacob Morrissey of Purdue in the quarterfinals. The true freshman made short work of his first Big Ten tournament bout, pinning Morrissey in just :29. The pin, his 12th of the year, moved Hall into the semifinals and earned him a trip to the NCAA Championships.

Hall faced No. 11 Zach Brunson of Illinois in the semifinals. Hall used a first period takedown and strong defense to post a hard-fought 4-2 win to advance to the Big Ten finals as a true freshman.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

184: #2 Bo Nickal, So. – 1st seed – 3rd place — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. #22 Hunter Ritter, Wisconsin – WBF (3:41)
Semis: vs. #8 Myles Martin, Ohio State – L, 4-6 dec.
Cn Semis: vs. #11 Emery Parker, Illinois – W, 8-2 dec.
3rd Place: vs. #4 TJ Dudley, Nebraska – W, 14-9 dec.

Sophomore Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 1 seed at 184, received a first round bye. The top-seed took on No. 22 Hunter Ritter of Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. Nickal picked up his 14th pin of the season by decking Ritter at the 3:41 mark in the second period. Nickal’s win moved him into the semifinals and earned him a spot in the NCAA Championships.

Nickal faced No. 8 Myles Martin of Ohio State in the semifinals. Nickal gave up a first and third period takedowns and was upset 6-4 by the Buckeye, suffering his first loss of the season.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

197: #7 Matt McCutcheon, Jr. – 4th seed – 3rd place — NCAA qualifier

Rd. 1: bye
Qtrs: vs. Matt Correnti, Rutgers – W, 3-2 dec.
Semis: vs. #2 Brett Pfarr, Minnesota – L, 3-11 maj. dec.
Cn Semis: vs. #14 Ricky Robertson, Wisconsin – W, 3-2 dec.
3rd Place: vs. #6 Aaron Studebaker, Nebraska – W, 3-2 (tb) dec.

Junior Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), the No. 4 seed at 197, received a first round bye. He met Matt Correnti of Rutgers in the quarterfinals. In a mirror of the dual meet that McCutcheon won in close fashion, the Lion junior rode a first period takedown to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Correnti to advance to the semifinals and clinch an NCAA spot.

McCutcheon took on top-seed and No. 2 Brett Pfarr of Minnesota in the semifinals. McCutcheon opened up an early lead with a first period takedown and led 2-1 after one period. But Pfarr used a takedown and four near fall points on a scramble in the second to open up a lead and went on to post the 11-3 major over McCutcheon.

SEE ABOVE STORY FOR TONIGHT’S RECAP

285: #3 Nick Nevills, So. – 3rd seed – 3rd place – NCAA Qualifier

Rd. 1: vs. Dan Perry, Michigan – WBF (4:25)
Qtrs: vs. #32 Brooks Black, Illinois – WBF (4:45)
Semis: vs. #2 Connor Medbery, Wisconsin – L, 2-3 dec.
Cn Semis: Razohnn Gross, Rutgers – WBF (3:32)
3rd Place: vs. #8 Michael Kroells, Minnesota – W, 2-0 dec.

Sophomore Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), the No. 3 seed at 285, took on Michigan’s Dan Perry in the first round. The sophomore opened up an early 6-1 first period lead off two takedowns and a near fall, then pinned the Wolverine in the second period at the 4:25 mark. The sophomore picked up his second pin in as many bouts in the quarterfinals, getting the fall at the 4:45 mark over Illinois’ Brooks Black. The pins, Nevills’ fifth and sixth of the year, moved the Lion into the semifinals.

Nevills met No. 2 Connor Medbery of Wisconsin in the semifinals. Nevills led 1-0 early in the second before Medbery notched the bout’s only takedown. The senior Badger rode that takedown to a 3-2 win over Nevills.


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