Penn State struggles for win over pesky Badgers
Rec Hall’s aura and the fans’ pressure on Penn State’s opponents usually causes teams to collapse after the Nittany Lions get their first win in a dual.
On Sunday, that wasn’t the case.
Wisconsin kept battling, and forced Penn State to its closest dual win, 24-13, since the Ohio State match last season, which the Nittany Lions won 19-18.
“I think they’re in good shape. I think they just wrestled hard,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said of the Badgers. “We’re a team that prides ourselves on our conditioning, being ready to go, winning close matches and kind of dominating the enthusiasm factor. We didn’t do that today.”
According to Badgers’ coach Chris Bono, Sunday’s dual performance was all about how he trains his team. He feels that no one trains harder than his team. They instill a mentality of winning no matter what.
“We are not going to let any outside influence affect the way we train or compete,” Bono said. “Crowd this, crowd that, No. 1 team, we are going to fight tooth and nail. Our motto is we are going to live with the result. We got two months until the
championship season starts, and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Oddly enough, Sunday’s win for the Nittany Lions was the first dual they didn’t record a pin since that same Ohio State dual. They also trailed at the break, thanks to Wisconsin collecting three of the first five wins.
Two of those wins for the Badgers came against ranked Penn State wrestlers.
Wisconsin’s Connor Brown earned an 18-9 major decision to kick things off at 125 pounds. The Nittany Lions’ Devin Schnupp fought until the end with the pair combining for seven reversals — six alone in the third period.
Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young came out and did what he’s done all year long, score bonus points. The true freshman rattled off five takedowns in a 12-4 major decision to tie the dual back up at 4-4.
The Badgers didn’t go away. Unranked Tristan Moran earned a 12-10 ultimate-tiebreaker No. 2 win over No. 4 Nick Lee at 141 pounds. The lengthy Moran used his advantage to score numerous takedowns on Lee, who kept shooting in. Even Sanderson noted that when Lee was in on the shots, he froze up and Moran took advantage.
At 149 pounds, Wisconsin’s unranked Cole Martin used a late takedown in the third period to best Brady Berge 8-7. The Badgers’ lead was 10-4 after four bouts. Bono wasn’t surprised about the start.
“I thought we could win a lot of matches. I think we could get a couple of more,” Bono said. “They’ve got guys that have been there. I don’t have guys that have been there yet. They got guys that are national champs and All-Americans. They’ve got a little bit of aura over their program. We are building that. Once we get that, we start holding everybody accountable, and our kids are holding everybody accountable, we are going to be a program that is where Penn State is.”
Penn State’s Jason Nolf had to step onto the mat for the first time this year with his team trailing. The redshirt senior responded to the tune of 11 takedowns in a 25-10 technical fall in 6:27. The Nittany Lions trailed 10-9 at the break.
Out of the break, Penn State went without Vincezno Joseph for the second consecutive dual. The 165pound tilt was going to be good matchup, too, against Wisconsin’s No. 3 Evan Wick. It’s not known why Joseph didn’t wrestle, but Sanderson said after the match that Joseph just didn’t feel well.
Instead, Wick took on Mason Manville, who was making his Rec Hall debut. Wick wasn’t able to do much, and managed just a 6-1 win.
Mark Hall finally gave the Nittany Lions’ the lead after his 174-pound match against Patrick Spray. Hall was dominant with six takedowns and three sets of near-fall points. However, Hall seemed a little pressured as he went for a late throw of Spray and got it, but was just unable to finish it off with a pin. Instead, he earned a 24-5 technical fall in 6:13 and Penn State led 14-13.
Shakur Rasheed locked up a cradle several times but just wasn’t able to get the roll over for the pin in a 5-0 win. Bo Nickal looked frustrated in his 14-4 major decision win over Beau Breske at 197 pounds.
Nickal took Breske down three times in the third period and tried to get a pin all three times, but Breske wasn’t having it. Nickal said he is used to people slowing his offense down, and the Badgers did that exactly.
“They came out and were hand fighting hard trying to slow us down,” Nickal said, “trying to tie us up and stuff. They’re strategy to slow us down was a good one.”
Anthony Cassar finished things off by tallying five takedowns on No. 9 Trent Hillger. Cassar had three alone in the second period on his way to an 11-5 win.
Sanderson knows his team didn’t wrestle well on Sunday. However, he made sure not to take anything away from just how prepared Bono had his team for this match.
“I don’t think we wrestled great. I don’t think that’s a secret,” Sanderson said. “There is going to be matches we don’t wrestle well. I don’t even want to say we don’t wrestle well because I think Coach Bono had his guys ready to go. It’s not taking anything away from them. They were here and ready to compete, and they did. They battled and it was a great match.
“Our fans are used to something different, but it’s just a reality check. Nothing is given. You’ve got to earn it today. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or last year.”
Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, 133 pounds, trips up Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz on Sunday at Rec Hall. Bravo-Young defeated Lantz, 12-4.
Penn State’s Jason Nolf, 157 pounds, takes down Wisconsin’s Devin Bahr on Sunday at Rec Hall. Nolf defeated Bahr, 25-10. Penn State defeated Wisconsin 24-13.