Penn State advances eight to Scuffle semifinals

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team dominated the first day of the 2018 Southern Scuffle, picked up almost 40 wins on the first day and moving out to a large lead in the team race.

Penn State pushed eight wrestlers into Tuesday’s semifinals at seven different weights. The Nittany Lions are looking for their seventh Southern Scuffle title, having won six in a row before not competing at the event last year.

Late Monday, with just a handful of consolation bouts still on the mat, Penn State had 101 team points with Northern Iowa in second (81.5) and Lehigh third at 68.

Penn State had 18 wrestlers competing at the team scored tournament, 16 attached and two unattached.

Zain Retherford (No. 1 at 149 pounds) rolled through day one, posting a 3-0 mark with two pins and a tech fall. The Lion senior’s performance has him set for the semifinals.

Jason Nolf (No. 1 at 157) rolled to a 3-0 mark with a forfeit victory and two pins to advance to the quarterfinals. Vincenzo Joseph (No. 1 at 165) posted a 3-0 mark to roll into the semis as well, picking up a pin and a tech in the process. Mark Hall went 3-0 to move into the quarters at 174 with two quick pins and a major in the quarterfinals.

Bo Nickal (No. 1 at 184) was a perfect 3-0 on the day as well, getting three first period pins at 0:56, 1:34 and 1:09 to move into the semifinals. Sophomore Anthony Cassar posted a 2-0 mark at 197 as the top seed, moving into the semifinal round.

Shakur Rasheed, a junior, had an outstanding first day at 197, going 3-0 with two wins over ranked wrestlers, including a pin in just :27 over No. 15 Scottie Boykin of Chattanooga in the quarterfinals. Rasheed’s 3-0 day has him in the semifinals.

A third 197-pounder, Matt McCutcheon, picked up a first round pin but then suffered an injury default loss in the second round and bowed out of the tournament with a 1-1 mark. Heavyweight Nick Nevills suffered a 4-3 upset loss in the quarterfinals and went 2-1 on day one.

Jarod Verkleeren advanced to the quarterfinals at 149 pounds before losing, going 2-1 with a major. The unattached true freshman is still alive in consolation action tomorrow morning.

Red-shirt freshman Alex Nicholas picked up his first win as a Nittany Lion at 285, going 1-2 at 285.

Francisco Bisono went 0-2 at 174. Bo Pipher went 0-2 at 149 as well.

Penn State posted a 36-14 record on day one, with nine majors, three techs and 14 pins. Retherford now has nine pins for the season, 45 for his career (fourth all-time at Penn State); Nolf has 10 this year and 39 for his career (fifth all-time); Nickal has eight this year and 33 for his career (ninth all-time) and Hall has seven this year and 19 for his career (nearing PSU’s top 20).

Coach Cael Sanderson’s squad had 10 wrestlers seeded at the event, including seven top seeds: senior Corey Keener, ranked No. 18 at 133, was the No. 4 seed; junior Jered Cortez, ranked No. 15 at 141, was the No. 3 seed; true freshman Nick Lee, unattached at 141, was the No. 5 seed; Retherford was the No. 1 seed at 149; Nolf was the top seed at 157; Joseph was the No. 1 seed at 165; Hall, ranked No. 2 at 174, was the No. 1 seed; Nickal was the No. 1 seed at 184; Cassar was a top seed while ranked just ninth at 197; and Nevills, ranked No. 3 at 285, was the No. 1 seed.

True freshman Lee, wrestling unattached and therefore not a scoring wrestler for Penn State in the team race, was a perfect 3-0 on the day, including a tech a pin and a major.