By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two straight wins over top 20 opponents has Penn State's Nick Nevills on the rise at heavyweight. Following a 4-2 win against Purdue's No. 15 Shawn Streck and a dominant 4-1 victory against Maryland's sixth-ranked Youssif Hemida, Nevills has strung together three consecutive wins for a 16-3 record on the year.
"I've had a couple losses and a couple of wins," Nevills said. "Obviously you don't want to be taking the losses but the wins are okay. I'm improving and taking things away from every match whether it's a win or a loss so that's positive, but I can still be wrestling a lot better and a lot tougher and that's where I'm trying to get to so I'm just trying to improve every match."
Nevills got off to a rocky start in the new year after collecting three losses, but the junior has turned things around.
"I think he has just tightened things up a little bit," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "I think he did some nice things this past weekend. He wrestled two of the better kids on the weekend but he still has a lot more potential. He can score more points than he did, but he's fine. He had a rough Scuffle but hopefully he learns from that moving forward. He wrestled great last weekend and we just want to build on that."
Following the tough start Nevills had a sit down meeting with Sanderson and his staff, which has sparked his resurgence.
"It was just a little heart to heart," Nevills said. "They were just wondering what was going on and I just told them how I was feeling and what was going on with my mind in some of the matches. It wasn't anything super earth shattering it was just one of those things that when you get to this level you sometimes have to have those kinds of talks and I think it was positive and they were real positive with their talk. It was just really being honest and having a good conversation and getting to where we want to be and get on the right track."
With an equally tough stretch ahead, Nevills says the key is simple - stay focused.
"I just look forward to the next practice and the next thing going that's on during the day," Nevills said. "I don't think about the Iowa match or the Ohio State match or the Rutgers match, Minnesota is on Friday so I think about Minnesota. I just look forward to the next day I get to come in here and workout and hang out with the coaches and the guys on the team."
News and Notes
In his weekly media session, Sanderson didn't have any news on the starting lineup at 197 pounds, expecting to have both Shakur Rasheed and Anthony Cassar split the weekend again as Penn State hosts Minnesota Friday night and travels to Rutgers Sunday. Sanderson believes the competition has been healthy, with the Friday-Sunday format giving him the opportunity to make decisions later on.
"I'd say we're in the same place we were last week," Sanderson said. "They're both wrestling well. You see what I see, I think Shakur is a guy that can pick up bonus points and Cassar is real solid and a big strong kid and getting better so it's a tough decision. We think both of them have a great chance to do well but we can only send one so we have to figure that out."
Much like last week, the split weekend with Sunday's dual on the road at Rutgers should provide a great crowd, but that isn't anything new for the Nittany Lions."These guys get put in that kind of environment quite a bit," Sanderson said. "Whether it's here or on the road, it tends to be our opponents biggest crowd of the year. So it's expected."