Lions send seven wrestlers into NCAA quarterfinals

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, winner of five of the last six NCAA championships, will be atop the team standings after day one at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions, under the guidance of head coach Cael Sanderson, capped off a stellar first day by sending seven of eight competitors into Friday morning’s national quarterfinals.

The Nittany Lions end day one with 30.5 points and will lead the team race heading into tomorrow morning’s session. At press time, with some consolation matches still ongoing, Ohio State was in second with 26.0 and Oklahoma State third with 24.0. None of the top five teams will be able to catch the Nittany Lions as the first day ends. Sanderson’s squad went 7-1 in session two and continued to roll up bonus points. All rankings listed are official tournament seeds.

Senior Jimmy Gulibon, unseeded at 141, started the evening session looking to knock off a second seeded wrestler. Gulibon took on No. 4 Matt Kolodzik of Princeton. Kolodzik scored quickly, taking Gulibon down off the whistle for an early 2-0 lead. The Tiger countered a solid Gulibon shot for a second takedown and led 4-1 after the opening period. Kolodzik took down to start the second period and Gulibon maintained control for the entire period and trailed 4-1 after two periods. Gulibon chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 4-2 deficit. The Lion worked for a tying takedown but Kolodzik connected late to ice the bout and take a hard-fought 6-3 decision. The loss moves Gulibon into tomorrow morning’s consolation bracket where he will meet Northern Colorado’s Timmy Box. Gulibon is still alive for third place after a 1-1 day including a first round tech fall win over the No. 13 seed in session one.

Junior Zain Retherford, the No. 1 seed at 149, met No. 16 Jordan Laster of Princeton in his second round match-up. Retherford notched an early takedown and spent the rest of the first period controlling Laster on top, turning him once for four back points and leading 6-0 with over 2:00 in riding time after one. The Lion reversed Laster to start the second period and turned him for four more near fall points to lead 12-0 after two. Laster chose down to start the third period and the Lion senior turned Laster one time and ended the match with a 16-0 technical fall at the 5:43 mark. Retherford, 2-0 with two tech falls, moves into tomorrow’s quarterfinals against Alex Kocer of South Dakota State.

Sophomore Jason Nolf, the No. 1 seed at 157, faced off with No. 16 Victor Lopez of Bucknell in the second round. Nolf opened up an early lead on the Bison wrestler, notching two quick takedowns in the first period to lead 4-2 with just over 1:00 left in the opening stanza. Nolf carried a 4-3 lead into the second and then poured on the offense, widening his lead to 11-5 after two periods. The Lion sophomore blazed his way through the third period, posting a handful of takedowns and a two point near fall to up his lead to 19-8. Nolf then added two more takedowns, finished on top and with 2:50 in riding time posted the 24-9 technical fall at the 7:00 mark. Nolf, 2-0 with two tech falls on the day, moves into tomorrow’s quarterfinals where he will meet B.J. Clagon or Rider.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph, the No. 3 seed at 165, met No. 14 Branson Ashworth of Wyoming in round two. Joseph drew first blood with a solid high single that he turned into a takedown and a 2-0 lead. He then controlled the action from the top position and turned Ashworth for four near fall points. He then rode the Wyoming out and carried that lead into the second period. Joseph and Ashworth traded takedowns and the Lion led 8-4 with over 2:00 in time after two periods. He picked up an escape and a takedown in the third period and, with 2:48 in riding time, posted a convincing 12-4 major. Joseph, 2-0 on the day with a major, will take on No. 6 Daniel Lewis of Missouri in the quarterfinals tomorrow morning.

True freshman Mark Hall, the No. 5 seed at 174, tangled with Navy’s Jadaen Bernstein in the second round. Hall ended the match early. The true freshman took Bernstein down and never let him recover. Leading 2-0 early, Hall used one two point turn and three four-point turns to cruise to a 16-0 technical fall at the 2:20 mark, ending the match with :40 left in the first period. Hall, 2-0 with a tech fall on the day, moves into tomorrow’s quarterfinals where he will meet No. 4 Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech.

Sophomore Bo Nickal, the No. 2 seed at 184, met No. 15 Steven Schneider of Binghamton in round two. The Loin sophomore opened up an early 4-1 lead with two fast takedowns. With 1:30 on the clock, Nickal went to work on top, trying to turn Schneider for near fall. He got the four point turn and led 8-2 with 1:54 in riding time after the opening period. Nickal added a takedown to lead 10-3 with over 2:00 in time after two periods and then ended things early in the third. After action moved neutral, Nickal took Schneider to the mat, locked him up and got the pin at the 5:33 mark. Nickal, 2-0 with a tech fall and a pin, moves into the quarterfinals tomorrow against No. 7 TJ Dudley of Nebraska.

Junior Matt McCutcheon, the No. 5 seed at 197, battled No. 12 Frank Mattiace of Penn in the second round. McCutcheon worked his way in on an early single and turned it into a takedown and a 2-0 lead at the 1:30 mark. After a quick Mattiace escape, McCutcheon used another textbook single to open up his lead to 4-2 after the opening stanza. Mattiace notched the only points of the second period with an escape. Leading 4-3, McCutcheon chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 5-3 lead, maintaining over 1:00 in riding time. The Lion junior nearly picked up a third takedown but Mattiace fought off the final effort. Still, with riding time, McCutcheon posted a strong 6-3 win, going 2-0 on the day with a pin. McCutcheon moves into tomorrow’s quarterfinals where he will meet No. 4 Jared Haught of Virginia Tech.

Sophomore Nick Nevills, the No. 5 seed at 285, took on No. 12 William Miller of Edinboro in Penn State’s final match of the second round and the session. Nevills got in on an early single and, after nearly 1:00 of work, got control of the Scot big man for a takedown and a 2-0 lead at the :53 mark. Nevills rode Miller out to lead 2-0 with :57 in time after the opening period. Miller opted to take down to start the second stanza and, after Nevills tried to turn Miller, the Scot reversed the Lion to tie the bout at 2-2 with 1:00 on the clock. Nevills, however, maintained nearly 2:00 of riding time at that point. Nevills escaped to a 3-2 lead with 1:16 in time after two periods. The Lion answered with his own reversal in the third and led 5-2 with 1:37 in riding time. The Lion sophomore finished on top and, with 2:01 in time, posted the 6-2 decision. Nevills, 2-0 on the day, will face No. 4 Jacob Kasper of Duke in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Penn State went 7-1 in session two and picked up 7.5 bonus points off a major, three techs and a pin. Penn State went a sizzling 15-1 overall on day one, grabbing 15.5 important bonus points off one major, seven tech falls and two pins. All eight Nittany Lions are still alive as the Nittany Lions look to win their second straight NCAA title, and sixth in the last seven years. Retherford is now tied for 21st all-time at Penn State history with 13 wins in the NCAA tournament. Nickal now has 15 pins this year and is one shy of entering Penn State’s top 20 career fall list.

The 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships continue Friday morning with session three in the Scottrade Center. The session begins at 11 a.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Central and airs live on ESPNU. The three day event continues through Saturday night’s NCAA Championship Finals. Friday’s session four begins at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central and airs live on ESPN; Saturday’s session five starts at 11 a.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Central and airs live on ESPNU; and Saturday’s session six, the championship finals, begins at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central and airs live on ESPN. ESPN3 will offer live streaming of every single match, on every single mat, throughout the entirety of the tournament. The entire tournament is also being broadcast by the Penn State Wrestling Radio Network, streamed live for free at www.gopsusports.com/collegesportslive/ .

Last Updated March 17, 2017