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Nittany Lions Celebrate a Dominant Senior Day

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By Brandon Pelter, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State didn't only honor its eight senior wrestlers before the match, it put on a show. It was a show that those in attendance won't forget.

Penn State topped Buffalo 55-0 with seven pins to finish off its third straight perfect season. The 55-point shutout win sets a school record, while the seven pins tie another program record, both dating back to a 54-0 win against Millersville in 1983.

For the Nittany Lions wrestling on the mat in Rec Hall for the final time, the goal was the same as always, stay focused and earn bonus points. That goal was no different for senior Zain Retherford, who added to a Penn State pinning streak just the way he has done in 51 other career instances.

"It was awesome as always," Retherford said. "I tried to be myself out there, like always. I tried not to really change up what I do even though it was the last one. I'm just grateful for another opportunity to wrestle out there." 

On his way off the mat for the final time in Rec, Retherford slapped the mat as a goodbye to Rec Hall and to the fans.

"It was something that I wanted to do," Retherford said. It was something I visualized last night. It was a way to say thanks to the fans and Rec Hall."

Rec Hall is a special place to Retherford, who loves the unique environment.

"No matter who the opponent is, it's always fun to wrestle in this crowd, in this environment," Retherford said. "I like the Bryce Jordan Center too, but I think this place is special. It has that tradition and this place is packed and it's very intimate, so I like it a lot. It's my favorite place to wrestle."

Among the flurry of pins, one stood out. If you blinked you might've missed Bo Nickal pin Brett Perry at 184 pounds in just 11 seconds. The quick pin is the second fastest in Penn State history, tying a David Taylor 11-second fall in 2014. Penn State took 25 bonus points in its final bout of the season. 

"I think it's just kind of who you are," Sanderson said. "I think these guys are going to wrestle for bonus points regardless of the match and it just so happened that they were able to score a lot today. I think it just has to be something you value and something you look for all the time. It's not a deal where you think 'well we're at the nationals so let me try to get bonus points for my team' If you don't have that mentality early you're probably not going to have that mentality late."

With a week off before the Big Ten Championships up next, Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson decided to give Shakur Rasheed the start at 197 pounds, as he pinned Joe Ariola in just 1:57. Postmatch, Sanderson confirmed Rasheed as the favorite to represent Penn State in the postseason at 197 pounds. 

"We're very comfortable and believe in both of them," Sanderson said. "We're just leaning toward Shak right now. Sending him out today, that's what we said would be the indicator of who we are going to send to the Big Ten Tournament and right now that's the plan."

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