A sell out crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center in Happy Valley got to watch one of the most highly anticipated wrestling matches of the season. Even though Ohio State in ranked about #10 they matched up very well with the #1 ranked Nittany Lions. There was a lot on the line Friday night; B1G and NCAA seeding, the Bowl Championship series, Pennsylvania- Ohio bragging rights and the dual outcome itself.
125lbs: #1-Nathan Tomasello, OSU over #4-Nico Megaludis, PSU 3-1 (3-0). This match had a lot of activity without a lot of commitment. Tomasello got a win over the one guy that he missed last year on his way to a title. While mentally tough as nails Megaludis may not have the physical horsepower to overcome someone that can match his mental game. Questions remain about this match up at NCAA’s, does either guy have something that they didn’t show?
That would take tremendous discipline.
133lbs: #5-Jordan Conaway, PSU over #15-Johnni DiJulius, OSU 8-4 (3-3). DiJulius hasn’t had the year he or the team was expecting but he opened up this match with a takedown and 2 back points. The most common theme of the Penn State team is that they will test your cardio. DiJulius may not have been the better wrestler but I don’t think that he had the gas tank to find out. Conaway gained confidence from his buzzer beater takedown to end the first period. Conaway has gotten better with his neutral position, especially keeping his chest low but will it be enough of an improvement to AA come March? The stall call against DiJulius is an example of why more rules don’t equal entertaining wrestling. Rules always punish the outliers. Some guys can use a drop down technique to get a turn just like some wrestlers aren’t blocking when in a 3 point stance.
141lbs: #6-Micah Jordan, OSU over Jimmy Gulibon, PSU 8-4 (6-3). I haven’t seen much of Micah Jordan so this match was hard for me to project. The opening shot by Gulibon was slick and deep but then he stopped and stalemated. Then the committed attacks stopped. Did he fell like Jordan was to strong for him? I know that he’s had his issues with finishing attacks. However that wasn’t the why Gulibon lost. The late match dive for 2 had no chance (space, balance, mat location and level) for success and wasn’t needed? Jordan wrestled smart with a fair amount of activity and wasn’t fazed by 7 minutes of wrestling even with his serious weight cut.
149lbs: #1-Zain Retherford, PSU Win by Fall Sal Marandino, tOSU 2:31. (6-9). I think that Zain wrestles with the intensity of a man trying to free him self from something terrible, hence a nickname I’m trying on this week for him: Spartacus. Marandino seemed to be weathering the storm fairly well and bam its over. So far Spartacus has meet every challenger, averaging more than 5 team points through a tough schedule – a serious production. Looking forward to seeing a potential Sorenson match at B1G’s.
157lbs: #1-Jason Nolf, PSU major decision #11-Jake Ryan, OSU 19-6 (6-13). This may have been the most undisciplined Nolf that I’ve seen. He left a bunch of points on the table and seemed to want to just punish a blocking and lethargic Ryan. Nolf broke Ryan mentally and physically. After a several minute stoppage for concussion check, I didn’t witness a protocol that I’m familiar with, Ryan shook his head all the way back to center mat – not a sign of confidence, to say the least. Nolf pushes the pace with everyone. He takes you to the edge of you cardio and then goes past his opponent’s threshold. In effect drowning his opponent in the deep waters of whatever period they can make it to. Running out of cardio makes everyone question his goals, dreams and aspirations. Wrestling Nolf is a values clarification experience. He’s the only guy in the country that is averaging more team points per match than Spartacus. It’s also must see wrestling. Just imagine a match between Spartacus and Nolf. It’s bound to get more speculation in the next few years than Taylor vs. Ruth.
165lbs: #2-Bo Jordan, OSU over Geno Morelli, PSU 3-2 (9-13). I wasn’t surprised to see Morelli instead of Rasheed and it made sense on a close dual, less possible team points for Ohio State. Jordan is making a big cut and seems to do just enough to get the win. Morelli buried his head in and under Jordan’s chest for several minutes blocking lost Jordan attacks. This is quickly called stalling in freestyle but not in folkstyle. Morelli seemed fresh at the end of the match, it was clearly a match strategy, slow the match down, keep it close and score last for the win, and a smart one by the coaches. It worked against Jordan’s cousin for almost seven minutes and it took Bo into the 3rd period to get a takedown lead. Is Morelli that strong and good with positions to earn the spot? Or is Jordan being affected by the cut?
174lbs:. #1-Bo Nickal, PSU over #15-Myles Martin, OSU 11-5 (9-16). Martin knows how to put a match plan together and followed it pretty well until Nickal did his thing. Nickal is most spectacular when his opponents try to get aggressive and or scramble with him. Even when Nickal got a bit sloppy with a trip mat return and was reversed late in the match his mental toughness didn’t appear to waver. Did that cause doubt in Martin? Or did Nickal just impose his will? What a finish to a match with surprising separation at the end. Martin looks to be an All American threat as a true freshman. Nickal looked physically back to normal. Just another Penn State Freshman cruising through the B1G season.
184lbs: #8 -Matt McCutcheon, PSU over : #13-Kenny Courts, OSU 4-0 (9-19). Lots of question marks surrounded this match; McCutcheon coming back from injury, Courts having McCutcheon’s number last season and who’s grown more in their respective rooms. While McCutcheon looked physically good coming back from the knee injury more importantly he improved his head position on his low single and came up big with his only serious attack from neutral. This match was tied with the bout at 141/165 for the least action. These guys were tied up ear to ear for at least 3 minutes of the match. Hopefully McCutcheon can fix that like he did with his low single. It’s a match style that doesn’t fit in with most of the other guys on the team.
197lbs: #1-Morgan McIntosh, PSU techfall Josh Fox, OSU 24-9 (9-24). This is what a healthy MM looks like; cardio in shape, great confidence in all of his attacks and doesn’t give on from the top position. It would have been fun to see him go with Mark Martin but Fox may be the guy going forward. I’m curious what weight MM goes when he starts training for senior level competitions.
285lbs: #2-Kyle Snyder, OSU techfall Jan Johnson, PSU 24-9 (14-24). I’m a big fan of Snyder’s path to the top. During warmups he was the only one that didn’t look like a college wrestler. Running shoes and shorts for the intros (the only one not in wrestling shoes and full team sweats). Johnson was full of heart and never stopped attacking but Snyder just looked so much more powerful. Minus some sloppy attacks in pursuit of the tech his hips were out of sight; he uses them for defense so well and like Nolf he generates tremendous power from them on his attacks. Biggest mismatch of the dual.
So what do we know and what might we infer. Penn State is the team to beat even with 285 and an un-finalized 165 starter. Ohio State and Oklahoma State both burned RedShirts going all in for this season and while duals are different than the NCAA tournament it doesn’t look to be enough. Penn State’s 165lb dilemma doesn’t look any closer to a natural resolution than it was a month ago. What are all the factors the coaches are weighing? This year’s results might be the highest factor; they are so stacked in the middle I’m not sure that next year’s lineup factors into the decision. Snyder will most certainly be a factor at 285 come March but even with the rash of upsets the last couple of weeks it’s a tough weight class and not a given. 285 for Penn State? I can’t see Nevils or Cassar coming back at this late date. They must be comfortable going to B1G’s and NCAA’s with 9 scholarship wrestlers in their line up?
What a great time for Penn State and Ohio State fan bases. For decades all national attention was focused on Iowa and Oklahoma. The B1G announcers aren’t that familiar with the Penn State faces but one of them walked away from watching the prematch work out shaking his head in disbelief about the PSU room, the partners, the drilling, the progressions. I’d never heard such positivity from either shameless Iowa aficionado. While I think that PSU is in the driver’s seat to win the dual and individual championships this season I would bet that the latter will be filled with surprises along the road. I just want to be matside for it – all the unknowns enhance the exciting style that most of this team wrestles with.
Nice analysis! Fun to watch and then have someone with knowledge add color. Keep up the passionate work. You are must read.
Thanks for your nice words. It’s a fun hobby. Spread the word!
Look for PSU vs Lehigh preview & post match highlights & thoughts
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