Things remain similar for PSU heading into conference matches

UNIVERSITY PARK — It’s interesting how similar the perspectives of a fifth-year senior and a redshirt freshman can be on the Penn State wrestling team.

Senior 197-pounder Bo Nickal and freshman 149-pounder Brady Berge revealed those similarities in separate interviews Tuesday in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.

Nickal (12-0) and Nolf (13-0) are once again having transcendant undefeated seasons. Every one of their combined 25 wins has produced bonus points. Each has nine pins. Nolf has broken the all-time falls record at Penn State and sits at 54. Nickal is right behind with 50.

You might think that the two would have some sort of friendly wager on who pins the most or winds up at the top of the all-time list, but you would be wrong.

“I just want to pin the guys because I want to pin them. That’s pretty much it. I haven’t talked about it at all. I don’t really think that it’s a huge focus but we just want to wrestle our best,” Nickal said. “I want to pin everybody but I can’t control how many guys he (Jason) pins. I hope he pins every single kid the rest of the year; that’s best for the team, so I’m not really wanting him to pin less people and me more.”

In fact, Nickal said his pins are simply a byproduct of trying to do his best.

“The pin is the best thing you can do, right? It’s for team points and it’s exciting and that’s something I’ve always been looking for, you know, since I started wrestling. I think it’s something that’s kind of been consistent,” he said. “I try to be a good influence, a good motivator for those guys because I think it’s important to lead by example. Not necessarily in my outcomes of my matches but just in how I wrestle with my attitude and my effort. Moving forward and making most of the opportunities and things like that, so not necessarily looking to make sure every single guy on the team is pinning everybody, but just making sure they are wrestling as hard as they can and their efforts are at 100 percent.”

Berge, coach Cael Sanderson said is, “based on results. Berge’s kind of established himself as the starter.”

He’s 12-1, climbing the rankings and has produced six bonus-point wins. And while he admits he would like to score points in bunches, as Nickal suggested, his effort and attitude are more important. At the same time, he said it isn’t hard to remain patient while he works to get better and produce more points.

“No, it isn’t. But I’m also the type of kid that when I see that, I want to do it too. Because I want to be the best I can, when you see guys like Jason Nolf out there lighting up the scoreboard like he does, I want to do that, too,” he said. “I also know that we’re different people. We wrestle differently, but it’s also awesome to train with him every day and have him help me, give me tips and things like that. I just worry about how I wrestle.”

With Penn State set to start Big Ten duals this weekend — Friday at Northwestern and a home meet Sunday with Wisconsin — the Nittany Lions still have some questions about what their postseason lineup will look like.

Sanderson said nothing Tuesday to indicate that Anthony Cassar won’t continue to start at 285.

At 149, Sanderson said, “That’s something we’re still playing with, we’re still switching matches. I think based on results. Berge’s kind of established himself as the starter, but we still have two-plus months of wrestling left to go. Berge is right there and I think he knows that.”

Many thought by this point that Devin Schnupp would be supplanted as the starter at 125, but nothing Sanderson said indicated a change is coming.

Freshman Brody Teske competed at the Southern Scuffle and went 2-1. While he showed promise, he also lost by tech fall and then didn’t wrestle again.

“It was his first time down to weight. I don’t think he was real happy with the result and he got a little banged up. He just needs experience,” Sanderson said. “First time weighing in and competing in a long time and hopefully he’ll move forward from there.”

Penn State’s other heralded freshman 125-pounder, Gavin Teasdale, is back on the roster after announcing via Twitter on Nov. 20 he was leaving Penn State “for health issues.”

Multiple media reports said he had entered the Southern Scuffle and was included in initial brackets, but he didn’t wrestle.

Sanderson said redshirts can travel and weigh in and still preserve their redshirt if they don’t step on the mat.

“More than anything it was just having him with us on the trip and just kind of getting acclimated to being back on the team and around the guys; that was the main purpose there,” he said.

So, does that mean Teasdale is close to competing? Not necessarily, according to Sanderson.

“Not really, no. There are open tournaments pretty much every weekend moving forward. We’re gonna have dual meets every weekend as we start the Big Ten schedule,” he said. “So, possibly soon but possibly not at all, so I know that’s probably not the answer you want to hear.”

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