EAST LANSING, Mich. - Following a strong start in the opening session, Penn State wrestling didn't exactly close out the day according to plan.
To the average eye, considering five Big Ten finalists, the possibility of 10 NCAA Tournament qualifiers and the team title still within reach, things went seemingly well.
That's not how the Nittany Lions roll though.
"I think the guys, we wrestled fine," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We had a couple of matches we'd like another chance at, but we have to come back strong tomorrow, we still have a chance. We have to wrestle well, but good effort overall."
The next match mentality paced the Nittany Lions throughout the day, as Penn State closed out session two at the Breslin Center just behind Ohio State for second in the team standings.
Team Standings - Top Four
1. Ohio State - 137.5
2. Penn State - 124.0
3. Michigan - 100.0
4. Iowa - 78.0
Among five Big Ten finalists tomorrow, Penn State's Shakur Rasheed will make his first appearance, having registered a 10-2 major decision against Purdue's No. 24 Christian Brunner in the semifinals.
It didn't come easy though, as he recorded a come-from-behind 8-4 decision against Indiana's Jake Kleimola in the first round, in a performance that hardly lived up to his expectations. His teammate Bo Nickal though, was right by his side to pick him up.
"He knows that I was having a hard time with the way I performed my first match," Rasheed said. "We're known for having fun, being happy and I faded away from it a little bit the first match."
His coaches were there too.
"After the first match the coaches came up to me and said hey, short memory you know? Next match," Rasheed said.
Rasheed used a 11-8 decision against Northwestern's Zack Chakonis, before finding even more of a sense of comfort by the time the semifinals arrived.
Headed to his first Big Ten Championship title match though, it of course means a lot to Rasheed, but there's still more work to do.
"This is only that much," Rasheed said raising his thumb and index finger parallel in the air. "I have to finish it off, beat whoever I have in the final, I didn't watch the other match, and then nationals."
Second-seeded Rasheed is set to meet Ohio State's third-seeded Kollin Moore in the finals.
Penn State's Vincenzo Joseph will also advance to his first Big Ten final match. Having come up short in last year's Big Ten semifinals against top-ranked Isaiah Martinez, the two will meet for the first time since Joseph's stunning NCAA Championship title victory last year.
"I'm looking forward to it," Joseph said. "I'm sure he is too. We're both really tough guys, we both wrestle hard and it's going to be fun no matter what happens."
Joseph's path to the finals also didn't come easy, as Sanderson noted the 165 pound weight class in the Big Ten is tough.
"I think he's wrestling great, his shots are good, he's crisp," Sanderson said. "He had a tough match there in the semis against a tough kid. Then a quarterfinalist, a tough match there too. A big match tomorrow."
Calmly navigating a few potentially troubling situations throughout the day, Joseph noted for the most part he was in control. He capped off the day with a 5-4 decision against Michigan's No. 7 Logan Massa, locked up by a late third period escape.
When asked about his day though, his response was simple - okay.
"I could have been more offensive," Joseph said. "That's really it. Offense is the name of the game and I need to do more of it."
Rasheed and Joseph will join top-seeds Nickal, Mark Hall and Zain Retherford in the Sunday afternoon finals.
What's Next in Session
III & IV (Big Ten Championships)
125: No. 14 Seed Carson Kuhn - Placer No. 2
133: No. 6 Seed Corey Keener - Seventh-place match
141: No. 2 Seed Nick Lee - Consolation Semifinals
149: No. 1 Seed Zain Retherford - Finals vs. Iowa's No. 2 Brandon Sorensen
165: No. 3 Seed Vincenzo Joseph - Finals vs. Illinois' No. 1 Isaiah Martinez
174: No. 1 Seed Mark Hall - Finals vs. Michigan's No. 6 Myles Amine
184: No. 1 Seed Bo Nickal - Finals vs. Ohio State's No. 2 Myles Martin
197: No. 2 Seed Shakur Rasheed - Finals vs. Ohio State's No. 3 Kollin Moore
285: No. 3 Seed Nick Nevills - Consolation Semifinals