Penn State travels to central New Jersey this Saturday for a dual meet with an unranked Rider team that is tougher than their ranking. Penn State has included tiny Rider in their schedule for the last 3 seasons with Rider scoring 11 points during those meeting. I’ll start with Rider since most people know a lot about the #1 dual team in the country already. One of the things this series does for Rider is pack the gym. Which is great for any small school. It brings in revenue, casual fans and TV exposure. That’s an impressive display for the program to show the school president. Coach Taylor talks more about that in our interview. I’ve seen the Rider guys wrestle a few times already this season and even with key guys missing from their lineup they bring it. They were missing 3 starters from their lineup against a tough Lehigh team and still managed to win four individual matches. I’m also a huge fan of exciting wrestlers and Rider has two guys on my list BJ Clagon and Chad Walsh.
Clagon is coming back from an injury and is what I’d call a “big lights” wrestler. He’s slick, strong, a good scrambler and when he’s aggressive he’s hard to beat. So his match with Retherford could be super fun. Retherford is on my list of exciting wrestlers for a different reason, he’s one of the most physical wrestlers in the country. Wrestling ZR is as close to a street fight as a D1 match can be. Both guys took 5th place at nationals as Freshman. This battle of Sophomores should be a high quality match.
Nolf vs Walsh at 157 is another marquee matchup. Both these guys are on the must see wrestling list. Nolf exploded on to the serious fans radar after the East Stroudsburg Open last season. Then the Southern Scuffle got him national recognition. He’s done nothing to diminish the high expectations that he has for himself. He’s attacking all the time.
Walsh has less national fanfare but is just as exciting to watch. He’s a mix of his older brother Taylor and Dylan Ness. Don’t close you eyes during this match. I’m sure that Nolf can get in on Walsh’s legs but Walsh will keep coming with counter attacks from some crazy angles. My over/under line on a Walsh counter throw is 2. Walsh has beaten All Americans and in his first college match last season he had a close match with IMar. Can’t wait for this one!
I’m not sure whom PSU will send out at 165 but Brennan will be a tough match up either way. Brennan is tough but so are the PSU guys. Morelli impressed me at the Bearcat Open last month with his aggressiveness, strength and neutral attacks. His lapses in good position could be problematic against Brennan.
84 & 97 could be interesting matches. Rider gets Fagg-Daves back and he’s a slick, quick, quality wrestler. If McCutcheon doesn’t come out aggressive it could turn into a match. The same might be said with McIntosh and Wolfe. Wolfe has beaten ranked guys but McIntosh has all the tools to be a national champ. Wolfe might keep it close but it would be a huge upset if he did more than that.
I wish Deutsch were healthy to go with Conaway, that would be a good matchup as well. It’s kind of quaint that the #1 team in the country has 2/3 weight classes still in flux. It keeps them human and I like it. I don’t like injuries. Keep your hate mail in you pocket. The internal battles in the Penn State room must be pretty awesome and a great training ground. That’s just one of the reasons that some(many) kids on their roster turn down full rides at other schools only to pay near full tuition to train at Penn State.
All that being said, does Rider score more than their historic average of 3.5 points? Penn State is #1 in dual & tourney team polls; it will be a tough task. Rider wrestles hard, so does Penn State. What could be better? There are still some tickets available. It’s the first weekend of the Jersey high school season, Sem Flo-Excal and the Beast. So there are some conflicts for wrestling fans. Tickets
125lbs #4 Nico Megaludis PSU vs. Brenden Calas Rider
133lbs #6 Jordan Conaway PSU vs. Zach Valcarce gets the nod. Officially it’s a match time decision but 5th year senior Rob Deutsch is coming back from injury with eyes toward March. It’s only December. Take your time. Don’t rush back and lose your senior season.
141lbs #6 Jimmy Gulibon/Kade Moss PSU vs. Paul Kirchner Rider
149lbs #1 Zain Retherford PSU vs. #14 BJ Clagon Rider
165lbs #19 Geno Morelli or Shakur Rasheed PSU vs. #15 Conor Brennan Rider
174lbs #5 Bo Nickal PSU vs Wayne Stinson Rider
184lbs #13 Matt McCutcheon PSU vs Michale Fagg-Daves Rider
197lbs #1 Morgan McIntosh PSU vs. #21 Ryan Wolfe Rider
285lbs Devon Van Cura PSU vs Mauro Correnti Rider
If you don’t have Comcast and or a DVR check back here for highlights of the match.