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2017 Big Ten Championships - Session II Recap

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Session I Recap (Video, Story)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Penn State wrestling moved to second place in the Big Ten Championships team standings after closing out the second session of action Saturday night at Assembly Hall. 

The Nittany Lions (98.5) currently trail Ohio State (117.0), with Iowa slated third (95.0) heading into the final day of the event, which kicks off Sunday at noon.

Session II Standings - Top 5 (wrestlers competing in the finals)
1.  Ohio State - 117.0 - (6 finalists)
2. Penn State - 98.5 (3 finalists)
3. Iowa - 95.0 (4 finalists)
4. Minnesota - 81.0 (1 finalist)
5. Nebraska 0 79.5 (1 finalist) 

With seven wrestlers advancing to the semifinals, Penn State saw three advance to tomorrow's championship finals. Zain Retherford (149) was the first Nittany Lion to secure a spot in the finals, registering his third consecutive pin of the day, pinning Maryland's Alfred Bannister at 6:01. 

9717803.jpeg"He was different, I've never wrestled him before," Retherford said. "A strong kid and physical, so I had to close some distance on him and get to my attacks, get to where I felt comfortable."

Retherford built his advantage to as many as 12-0 heading into the third period before finishing with the pin to give the Nittany Lions an added boost with critical bonus points. 

Retherford, who went 4-0 last year to capture his first Big Ten Championship will now look to defend his title making his third career appearance in the title match.

Fellow No. 1 seed Jason Nolf (157) followed with his second straight pin on the day. Although keeping it close heading into the second period maintaining the edge, 5-4, Nolf managed to double the advantage in the third period before pinning Minnesota's No. 9 Jake Short at the 6:09 mark.

Nolf isn't satisfied though.

"I felt pretty slow, I didn't really get to my attacks as much as I wanted to, that's why I did a little bit better on top, which is what I've been working on, but I need to get back to my attacks," Nolf said following the win.

Amidst the excitement swirling though Assembly Hall, Nolf isn't getting caught up in the buzz. A 2016 Big Ten runner-up, he went up 3-0 in the Big Ten Championships just a year ago with a pin and two techs before falling just short in a close loss to Illinois' then-No. 2 Isaiah Martinez.

This year, earning a spot in the finals still isn't enough.

"It doesn't really matter to me that much, I mean I want to win, but securing a spot doesn't mean anything to me, I want to win," Nolf said.

Along with Retherford and Nolf, true freshman Mark Hall (174) will make his Big Ten finals debut. Shooting out to an early lead with a takedown in the first period, Hall held on to push past Illinois' No. 11 Zach Brunson.

Much like Nolf though, as a collective group, the Nittany Lions are focused on winning, having earned a total of 18.0 bonus points off of nine pins through both sessions. Those critical bonus points will be key in Sunday's final team push. 

"It's a big, big part of it," Retherford said. "We're doing the best we can right now for the team and for each other and it's a lot of fun."

Sunday's Big Ten Championships finals will broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m., with consolations opening the final day of competition.

Up Next

141: #10 Jimmy Gulibon, Sr. - 2nd Seed (1-2) - Consolations (NCAA Qualifier)
Seventh-place: Gulibon vs. Wisconsin's Cole Martin 

149: #1 Zain Retherford, Jr. - 1st Seed (3-0) - Finals (NCAA Qualifier)
Retherford vs. Ohio State's No. 5 Micah Jordan

157: #1 Jason Nolf, So. - 1st Seed (2-0) - Finals (NCAA Qualifier)
Nolf vs. Iowa's No. 2 Michael Kemerer

165: #4 Vincenzo Joseph, Fr. - 4th Seed (1-1) - Consolations (NCAA Qualifier)
Joseph vs. Minnesota's No. 15 Nick Wanzek

174: #5 Mark Hall, Fr. - 2nd Seed (2-0) - Finals (NCAA Qualifier)
Hall vs. Ohio State's No. 3 Bo Jordan

184: #2 Bo Nickal, So. - 1st Seed (1-1) - Consolations (NCAA Qualifier)
Nickal vs. Illinois' No. 11 Emery Parker

197: #7 Matt McCutcheon, Jr. - 4th Seed (1-1) - Consolations (NCAA Qualifier)
McCutcheon vs. Wisconsin's No. 14 Ricky Robertson 

285: #3 Nick Nevills, So. - 3rd Seed (2-1) - Consolations
Nevills vs. Rutgers' Razohnn Gross

 Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

2017 Big Ten Championships - Session I Recap

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Penn State wrestling officially opened the 2017 Big Ten Championships, wrapping up the first session with a total of seven pins. Currently slotted first in the standings, the Nittany Lions highlighted the quarterfinals with five pins to take ahold of first place (70.0), just two points ahead ahead of Ohio State (68.0).

Session I Standings - Top 5
1. Penn State - 70.0
2. Ohio State - 68.0
3. Iowa - 57.5
4. Minnesota - 55.5
5. Michigan - 47. 0 

"The guys are wrestling tough, we had a lot of first round byes, which is unfortunate but our guys came through in the second round and in the first round obviously," assistant coach Jake Varner said. "We got a lot of bonus points, which is good, and then you get that extra point with the bye so we had a couple of tough ones but our guys came out and wrestled tough and did the job."

Zain Retherford and Nick Nevills opened with a pair of pins in the first round. Retherford earned the fall at the 6:12 mark against Purdue's Nate Limmex before pinning Michigan State's Nick Trimble at the 4:45 mark in the quarterfinals.

"The first pin was against the Michigan's Dan Perry, I haven't wrestled him before, just went out there and got a few takedowns," Nevills said.

Nevills also closed out the quarterfinals pinning Illinois' Brooks Black at the 4:45 mark for Penn State's fifth quarterfinal fall, boosting the Nittany Lions to the top of the standings.

"I was just talking to our coach and that second bonus point fall put us back in the lead, we were down for a little bit," Nevills said. "All the guys, everyone are trying to get bonus points and really trying to do it for the team. I think I'm wrestling well and I'm pretty excited."


Bo Nickal, Jason Nolf and Mark Hall all pinned their quarterfinal opponents with Hall pinning Purdue's Jacob Morrissey in less than 30 seconds.

"Going out there and trying to get a major is great, but these guys are going out there trying to get pins so you have Zain and Bo and Nolf and those guys going out and getting pins, Nevills getting pins, so all of our guys are wrestling tough and they're looking to score points, which is going to put bonus points up there," Varner said. 

Looking ahead, Retherford (149), Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Hall (174), Nickal (184), Matt McCutcheon (197) and Nevills (285) will all represent the Nitany Lions in the semifinals. Session II begins at 6 p.m. with consolation matches taking place before semifinals. Jimmy Gulibon (141) will represent the Nittany Lions in the consolation round.

Up Next

141: #10 Jimmy Gulibon, Sr. - 2nd Seed - Second Round Consolations
Gulibon vs. Michigan's Sal Profaci

149: #1 Zain Retherford, Jr. - 1st Seed - Semifinals
Retherford vs. Maryland's Alfred Bannister

157: #1 Jason Nolf, So. - 1st Seed - Semifinals
Nolf vs. Minnesota's No. 9 Jake Short

165: #4 Vincenzo Joseph, Fr. - 4th Seed - Semifinals
Joseph vs. Illinois' No. 1 Isaiah Martinez

174: #5 Mark Hall, Fr. - 2nd Seed - Semifinals
Hall vs. Illinois' No. 11 Zac Brunson

184: #2 Bo Nickal, So. - 1st Seed - Semifinals
Nickal vs. Ohio State's No. 8 Myles Martin 

197: #7 Matt McCutcheon, Jr. - 4th Seed - Semifinals
McCutcheon vs. Minnesota's No. 2 Brett Pfarr

285: #3 Nick Nevills, So. - 3rd Seed - Semifinals
Nevills vs. Wisconsin's Connor Medbery 

 Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Youth, Veterans Prep for B1G Championships

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By Brandon Pelter, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Big Ten Championships just days away, Penn State wrestlers are preparing for an opportunity to win their sixth Big Ten title in the last seven years.

Penn State will have 10 wrestlers competing in Bloomington, joining Wisconsin as one of only two Big Ten schools to feature all of their starters. 

"The Big Ten is very strong there's no doubt about that," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "So winning the Big Ten conference means a lot and it's important. History shows the Big Ten conference does really well especially as of late, so we wouldn't want to be anywhere else or in any other conference."

Penn State returns two of last year's Big Ten Champions in Zain Retherford and Bo Nickal, who will most likely have a No. 1 seed along with Jason Nolf, a runner-up from last season. Penn State will also return seven wrestlers to the tournament in total.

"I'm just feeling excited, and ready to go," sophomore Bo Nickal said. "I'm excited to compete and get the post season rolling for sure. I'm just doing what my coaches tell me to, staying focused and taking care of business pretty much." 

True freshmen Nick Suriano and Mark Hall finished off the dual season with a combined 40-4 record, both losing just two matches throughout the season. Additionally, both are ranked in the top five according to InterMat. While the freshmen duo will be on the Big Ten tournament stage for the first time, it isn't like they haven't been in the spotlight before.

"Those guys, they've competed on the biggest venues in the country and in the world," Nickal said. "So I don't think they'll have any issues with it or anything like that. I'm excited to watch them wrestle because they're great competitors and I enjoy watching them a lot."

Mark Hall, who burned his redshirt more than halfway through the season, finished 6-1 in duals with the lone loss coming in his first dual in a raucous Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

"He's grown a lot," Sanderson said. "His conditioning is a lot better than when he first stepped out on the mat for us. So we've seen that and his technique, he's just getting better. Last week in practice he looked great, shots looked good, he looked sharp, and he's a gamer. He's a guy that has been at his best whenever you need him to be his whole life and it will be no different this go-around." 

Although Nick Nevills will be back to the tournament for a second time, this year's trip will be much different than last. Last season Nevills was only back to competitive wrestling for a few weeks after an injury, going 1-2 in the tournament.

"I just enjoyed the process this whole year," Nevills said. "I've enjoyed going to practice every day and I'm looking forward to wrestling this weekend and at the NCAAs and just having a lot of fun with it and enjoying myself getting to actually go through that process. I just have to go out there and keep doing what I've been doing. I've been scoring points and I think that's what I have to do to be able to win at the highest level. Just continue to try to improve on small minute details that I can polish over and carry myself to get those wins that I didn't get earlier in the year."

Jimmy Gulibon, who has been on a tear as of late will be representing Penn State at 141 pounds. Gulibon is looking to make some noise in his final season with plenty of work left out on the mat.

"I'm trying not to think about [my last season] too much," senior Jimmy Gulibon said. "There's still some matches to be wrestled. I'm going to go out and I'm going to enjoy it. I just [need to] stay relaxed, wrestle my pace and try to wrestle the way I wrestle matches." 

Wrestling begins with Session I at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Assembly Hall and continues into Sunday. 

This Week in Penn State Wrestling

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling hosted its weekly media availability Monday afternoon in preparation for its trip to the 2017 Big Ten Championships, hosted by Indiana March 4-5 in Bloomington.

Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson kicked off the media session meeting with a host of media members at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. For Sanderson, the focus right now is all about preparing the top-ranked Nittany Lions to be at their best this weekend, coming off an undefeated season capped off by a Big Ten regular season title as well as the 2017 NWCA dual championship crown. 

Check out a few takeaways from media session. 

Big Ten=Big Opportunity
Competing in the Big Ten has made all the difference in helping prepare the Nittany Lions to be at their best when March arrives. Arguably the nation's toughest conference, it's not just the ample amount of talent that's instrumental in helping Penn State pique at just the right time.

"I think it's the steel sharpens steel mentality," Sanderson said. "Especially the way we compete, we're competing on a Friday, Sunday and then we're usually traveling home Monday and then we have another match on Friday."

Due to the conference dual meet schedule rotating, Penn State completed a Big Ten slate that featured five duals on the road and four at home, with trips to ninth-ranked Minnesota, sixth-ranked Nebraska, third-ranked Iowa, third-ranked Ohio State and No. 13 Wisconsin along the way.

The Nolf Psyche
One of three Nittany Lions in the starting lineup with an undefeated record this season (19-0), Penn State's Jason Nolf has highlighted the 2017 campaign with 11 pins. With a fearless approach, Nolf's relentless pursuit to score points is what sets him apart.

"The sky's the limit if you're willing to try new things, and being fearless is very rare," Sanderson said. "You can't really shake him up. He gives up a takedown, he keeps wrestling, he gives up two takedowns, he keeps wrestling and if a guy's going to keep wrestling like that for seven minutes, it's going to be tough to beat him."

Hall's Growth
Since stepping into the starting lineup at 174 pounds on the road at Iowa, Penn State's Mark Hall has put together a 6-1 dual record, including a 5-1 mark in conference outings. For Sanderson, his progress has been evident across the board, as he highlighted just a few of the areas of growth this season.

"His conditioning is a lot better than it was when he first stepped out on the mat for us and when you believe in your conditioning you're going to be wrestling differently," Sanderson said.

Travel Plans
Penn State hits the road Thursday in anticipation for Session I competition, which kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. in Assembly Hall. Sanderson noted that the Nittany Lion schedule will feature a lot of running and stadium workouts in preparation, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

Reach Arielle at or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Roll to B1G Championship

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a Big Ten dual title within reach Penn State wrestling didn't squander its opportunity. The Nittany Lions finished the regular season with a dominant 45-6 win against Maryland on senior day. 

True freshman Nick Suriano opened competition with a tech fall win over Michael Beck before Triston Law dropped a tough match by fall. Up next at 141, Jimmy Gulibon, Penn State's only starting senior, gave Penn State the lead in the third bout of the day, sparking just the momentum the Nittany Lions needed. The 9-4 win against Ryan Diehl marks Gulibon's sixth straight.

"He's extremely committed and dedicated," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's a guy that won't eat a 'Cheeto', even in the summer. He has incredible ability and he's as fast as anyone I've ever coached, but speed alone won't win. It would be great to see Jimmy finish the season on a strong note, and be happy and get up on the podium real high. It makes me smile just thinking about it, I'd just love to see him finish strong."

With the year-long one match at a time approach on the minds of the Nittany Lions, junior Zain Retherford says Gulibon is just as ready for the postseason as the rest of the team. 

"He's ready to go," Retherford said. "I think our whole team feels pretty fresh for this time of the year. I think our coaches do a really good job of that. Jimmy's the same way, he's looking good out there and he's ready now. If March is now he's ready."

The energy continued to surge in Rec Hall as Penn State rattled off five straight pins, with each one bringing the Rec Hall crowd of 6,661, a season high, to their feet. 

Retherford collected his team-leading 13th pin while Jason Nolf captured his 11th of the season. Following a tough Friday loss to top-ranked Isaiah Martinez, Vincenzo Joseph responded with his first pin of the season in just under four minutes. Freshman Mark Hall then quickly won by fall at the 1:14 mark with his 11th pin, before Bo Nickal finished off the streak with his 12th pin in 2:08. 

"Bonus points are always a part of winning in the postseason and winning dual meets so we need our guys looking for those extra points," Sanderson said. "So that's good, that's what we want and they feed off of each other in those situations. That's what we need going into Big Ten's and the national tournament." 

At halftime, Penn State took the time to celebrate and honor the contributions of its former wrestling lettermen. A group surrounding the mat was introduced one-by-one to a large roar from the crowd.

"I can't explain why the passion and the support and the fire is still there with a lot of our alumni but it's like that throughout all of Penn State University," Sanderson said. "That's one of the things, if not the thing, that makes Penn State really stand out in my mind coming from a different school. Just the support and the passion, you see it in the football games and it trickles into every sport. When your alumni are around all the time, it sets a great standard for the kids that they're going to be around when they graduate."

Penn State also hoisted the Big Ten regular season (dual meet) trophy in a special postmatch ceremony at the middle of the mat to celebrate the Nittany Lions' fourth title, earned outright this season.

Earning the top spot in the in the Big Ten conference, the top-ranked Nittany Lions will now head to Stillwater, Oklahoma to meet No. 2 Oklahoma State in the 2017 NWCA Dual Championship Series. One of even in the the annual dual meet events, kicks off Sunday, Feb. 19 at at 4 p.m. ET in Gallagher-Iba Arena. For more on the event, click here.

Hall Highlights Illinois Victory at Home

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Consistency has been a strong suit for top-ranked Penn State wrestling and nothing changed Friday night as the Nittany Lions rolled to a 34-7 victory against Illinois.

The match began at 125 pounds and and true freshman Nick Suriano continued to show why he is one of the top wrestlers in his weight class. Suriano jumped out to a 6-2 lead after the first period and continued to pour on the pressure for a 17-6 major decision against Travis Piotrowski.

"I'm just thinking about scoring points and putting the pressure on guys," Suriano said. "I feel like my offense and my confidence increase every match and I'm feeling real good. I'm training to win gold in March and I've got the best partners and coaches. I'm wrestling the best guys in the room every week and I'm getting better." 

Jimmy Gulibon also continued his winning ways with a 10-2 major decision against Mousa Jodeh, while Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf each recorded bonus point victories against ranked opponents.

The marquee matchup was at 165 pounds with fourth-ranked Vincenzo Joseph taking on top-ranked Isaiah Martinez and the bout did not disappoint. Trailing 3-1 with just seconds left, Joseph tried to shoot in on Martinez, but the two-time NCAA champion held strong and came out of the scramble with a takedown for the 5-1 decision.

"I thought it was a good match," Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We've got to go get that take down and find a way to get that takedown. Martinez is obviously hard to score on and is very good at scrambling if you get to his legs. I think Joseph comes away confident feeling like he could've won that match." 

After the tough loss for Joseph, another true freshman, Mark Hall hit the mat for his first performance in front of the Rec Hall crowd. Hall masterfully put together a 16-1 tech fall win in full time against No. 12 Zac Brunson, emphatically pumping his arms up to get the crowd louder before heading off the mat. 

"I wish I could wrestle in front of that crowd all day," Hall said. "But, I'm just doing my part and working to score as many points as I can, no matter what position and that's what it all comes down to. I was a little hesitant first period getting my shots. I was scoring off his shots and when I got on top I was just being a hammer on top and scoring points from there. Really after that scramble on the edge of the mat and wrestling through that was when I was like I can compete with anyone and everyone in this weight class."  

Bo Nickal added another win this season with an 18-5 major decision against Emery Parker, while Matt McCutcheon grinded out a 3-1 decision at 197. Nick Nevills avenged last season's loss to Brooks Black with a 5-0 decision to end the dual.

"[Nick Nevills] has made a lot of progress," Sanderson said. "More than anything he's just strong and healthy, he's confident in his body. We would've liked to see him attack a little bit more but he did a nice job and beat a tough kid tonight." 

The Nittany Lions are back in action Sunday at 2 p.m. when they host the Maryland Terrapins. Penn State will also be celebrating senior night in their final home dual of the season. 

This Week in Penn State Wrestling

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Determination and grit are two qualities that separate a class of wrestlers from the rest, and two qualities that Penn State wrestling simply isn't lacking. 

This year, Penn State sophomore George Carpenter is just one of the Nittany Lions in the lineup who consistently brings his all when stepping foot on to the mat.

"I just focus on my effort," Carpenter said. "I just do the best I can. That's really all you can do."

Carpenter was thrust into the Nittany Lion starting lineup at 133 pounds after Jered Cortez was sidelined with an injury. Making his debut against Binghamton, he rolled to a 17-2 tech fall win against the Bearcats' Ian Lupole. Since then, he has faced some of the top wrestlers in the country including Iowa's Corey Clark, Ohio State's Nathan Tomasello and Nebraska's Eric Montoya. 

"I do my best to improve with every opportunity that I have," Carpenter said. "I like to think I've improved quite a bit."

Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson also noted that Carpenter's hard work extends off the mat too.

"George is a fighter," Sanderson said. "He's been a little outmatched but he's running back to the center and he's going to give it his best effort. That says a lot about a person. Just things bigger than wrestling, and obviously there are a lot of things bigger than wrestling, and one of them is just your attitude and your effort and he's doing a great job. His effort is great and we're proud of him."

A member of the team in each of the last three seasons, Carpenter redshirted in his first season in 2014-15 wrestling unattached, before wrestling in open tournaments last season. Carpenter, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina native, has another tough task ahead of him Friday night when he'll face sixth-ranked Zane Richards of Illinois.

Postseason Approaching
The start of February marks the near end of the regular season for the Nittany Lions. Penn State wrestles just three more matches before gearing up for a busy month of March featuring both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

"I think our guys are wrestling well," Sanderson said. "We've certainly been tested with the best and we have little things that we can improve upon and that's always our focus, individually and as a team. But overall, we're pleased. We're always trying to focus on the positives. If you're focusing on the things we aren't doing right then you drive yourself crazy, but there is a reality that we have to improve some of those things. I think we're doing a lot of things really well right now." 

Redshirt junior Matt McCutcheon isn't new to the postseason grind though, and is ready to make a run this year.

"I think I'm more confident than I ever was," McCutcheon said. "I'm just going to go out there and score as much as possible and just have fun. Some guys don't compete as well when it comes to big tournaments and big matches, but I think our team is going to be relaxed and I'll be relaxed going out there and I think that's going to be very important." 

McCutcheon noted that for newcomers, like freshman Nick Suriano, it's all about staying relaxed and having fun.

"I think Suriano is obviously doing very well," McCutcheon said. "He's one of the top guys in the country and he's going out there and wrestling relaxed and I think you can tell that from the difference between his first match and now. You see him going out there and scoring a lot of points just like last match, he got a tech against a guy who's very good. I think that's just because he's trusting in the coaches and going out there and wrestling more relaxed and is opening up."

The Nittany Lions return to Rec Hall this weekend for a pair of Big Ten duals hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini Friday, Feb. 10 before closing out the weekend welcoming the Maryland Terrapins Sunday, Feb. 12 on senior day.

Retherford Building Success on Consistency

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Success is nothing new for Penn State wrestling junior Zain Retherford. Retherford, a national champion and two-time All-American is 82-3 as a Nittany Lion, with a combined 212-6 record dating back to his high school career.

"He's just an incredibly solid individual," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "His progress has been in all aspects of his game. To say where is he going to continue improve, it'll be kind of a progression you don't even really notice because he's so consistent. He'll just get better and better."

Retherford closed out his high school career going 47-0 and captured two state titles in his four years at Benton High School. Arriving at Penn State for the season in 2013-14, Retherford came out with a bang wrestling in the starting lineup at 141 pounds as a true freshman. In just his sixth collegiate dual, and third at home, Retherford upset Ohio State's top-ranked Logan Stieber with a 4-2 win in sudden victory - a win that still gives him chills thinking back on.

"The crowd I think I remember the most," Retherford said. "I don't think a lot of people expected me to win or even to fight off a major decision so just having confidence in myself in that environment and then getting the crowd electric in there, I felt like the ground was shaking literally, I don't know. I just remember being really pumped up, being a true freshman, not a lot of expectations and just having fun."

Retherford finished the season placing fifth at the NCAA national championships with a 5-2 mark. Both losses coming to the first and second overall seeds. In 2014-15 Retherford took a redshirt season to prepare to wrestle at 149 pounds. While the move isn't a rarity, it certainly isn't the common way of redshirting a first-year wrestler.

"In the case of Retherford I don't think it's all that uncommon to wrestle a year and then take a year off," veteran Nittany Lion play-by-play radio talent Jeff Byers said. "The most typical is to obviously redshirt that first year, but it's certainly not unheard of. I think a lot of times that will benefit a kid because you see what you need to work on and what areas you want to develop, whereas when you're just coming out of high school sometimes you're not sure what it is you need to develop. But, it is pretty unusual to not compete in tournaments or anything like that during the redshirt season."

Retherford's 2015-16 season proved the redshirt year to be a success as he raced to an undefeated season with a 34-0 record, taken down just one time throughout the entire season. In addition, Retherford was the NCAA national champion at 149 pounds with a win over Iowa's Brandon Sorenson, was the NCAA's most dominant wrestler and was a finalist for the Hodge Trophy.

Along with the Nittany Lion's success, Retherford has continued that momentum into this year, currently out to a 15-0 start this season, one of three unbeaten starters heading into Friday's matchup. Retherford opened the season pinning each of his first seven opponents, before rising to tied for 11th on the Penn State all-time pins list with 30 in his career and 11 pins this year alone.

"I think greatness comes from consistency," Sanderson said. "You know what you're going to get, and it's not 'well is he going to show up this time or not.' He's always going to give his best effort and he's always going to be the same person regardless of where we are; home, on the road, nationals, first match of the year, practice, he's the same person every day. I think that's what the great ones are made of."

The top-ranked Nittany Lions hit the road this week, traveling to Columbus, Ohio to take on the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a 6 p.m. matchup. 

Check in with Sanderson ahead of Penn State's trip to Columbus.

Livingston Highlights Northwestern Victory

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three pins highlighted an outstanding 45-3 win for the Nittany Lions against the Northwestern Wildcats Sunday afternoon in front of a season-high crowd of 6,630.

"I think the effort was good for the most part," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "You're always looking to improve obviously but overall, I think we wrestled well and all things considered, we were out in Wisconsin two days ago and we get back in time to get off the bus and go right to practice last night and we're wrestling again [today]. But I think the guys, overall we looked good." 

True freshman Nick Suriano set the tone with a pin of Anthony Rubinetti 3:10 into the bout while Caleb Livingston collected a pin in his first home dual at Rec Hall at 165 pounds. Jason Nolf also recorded a pin at 157 pounds.

"The atmosphere was awesome," Livingston said. "Wrestling in Rec Hall has always been a dream of mine when I started on the team four-and-a-half years ago.

Livingston was named the Ridge Riley Award winner, given to the most outstanding wrestler of the dual. The Vollrath family, whose son Jimmy, a former Penn State wrestler, passed away earlier this year, presented the award to Livingston.

"I found out afterward when I won the Ridge Riley award that in Jim Vollrath's last match he also won the Ridge Riley award with a pin," Livingston said. "So for me that was pretty special. He was a good friend of mine, a wrestling partner, who we lost earlier this year, so it really meant a lot to me that we had very similar circumstances and I was able to win the award as well as him." 

Livingston said it was a teammate that taught him the move he used to win with the pin, one that meant so much to him in honor of a former Nittany Lion.

"That's a move I've got to credit Zain [Retherford] with for showing me," Livingston said. "I learned it because he hit it on me about three or four times in practice in one match and pinned me with it. I turned to him and said hey you have to show me that move because I wasn't going anywhere. So we worked on it, that was about two weeks ago, and when I got on top of him I felt his arm kind of extend and I knew that move was there so I went for it."

Just last year, Livingston wrestled in six bouts at heavyweight to replace a then-injured Nick Nevills, jumping up to 205 pounds, but this year he feels much lighter wrestling at 165.

"I feel a little lighter now that I'm not a heavyweight anymore for that brief stint," Livingston said. "It took me a while to get that weight off. I got up to 205, but that was a whole lot of Canyon Pizza." 

Jimmy Gulibon also dazzled the crowd, continuing his momentum with a tech fall win over Alec Mckenna. Gulibon has now scored 35 points in the last six periods of wrestling.

"He's wrestling well," Sanderson said. "His shots are great, his attacks are great, he's just as solid as he has ever looked so I'm excited for Jimmy [Gulibon] and for the rest of the season. It's fun for us and we like him, we want to see him happy, going out there and having a good time."

Mark Hall collected his first home dual win, but by forfeit. While, Zain Retherford also won by forfeit, securing 50 straight wins for the junior.

Although the Northwestern forfeits weren't exactly what Sanderson was expecting coming off of the road victory at Wisconsin Friday night, there wasn't much Penn State or Northwestern could do. 

"It's disappointing when you find out your guys don't get matches, we want them to wrestle, especially after we missed a tournament in December," Sanderson said. "We wanted to watch Zain wrestle, we wanted to see Mark Hall wrestle, we wanted him to get that match. They didn't do that on purpose, it just kind of is what it is." 

The Nittany Lions travel next to Columbus, Ohio to face the Buckeyes at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb 3. 

This Week in Penn State Wrestling

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By Brandon Pelter, student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State senior Jimmy Gulibon continued his season last week, while Nittany Lion freshman Mark Hall got his first experience in dual meet action.

For Gulibon, he earned a win over Iowa's then-No. 18 Topher Carton, remaining No. 12 in this week's InterMat rankings, having improved to 8-6 on the year.

Gulibon highlighted his matchup with a gritty come-from-behind performance, which featured four takedowns in the third period to secure the win.

"I was happy," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "I could've kissed him when he was coming off -  he probably wouldn't have liked that. That was a big match in the dual meet. That was one that they [Iowa] probably felt like they needed to get to win the dual. I think that's a great match for him to get and to get it in a big matchup like that and to score three or four takedowns in the third period to win, it's good to see and we're very proud of him." 

Gulibon says he had such a strong third period because he knew he had to go all in. 

"I felt good," Gulibon said. "I started off a little slow, didn't finish a shot or two, but then kept wrestling. I knew I was down and I knew I had to score some points, so I just kept wrestling and just started shooting. I didn't think about the score and just kept going." 

This year though, it's the keep it simple mentality that's been driving the fifth-year senior All-American.

"I've had a couple rough matches here and there, a couple good matches here and there," Gulibon said. "I mean overall just keep wrestling and keep fighting. That's really it." 

Looking ahead to the weekend, Gulibon and the Nittany Lions head to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers at 8 p.m.  Friday, Jan. 27 before returning home to host Northwestern at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29 at Rec Hall. Gulibon will be tested yet again, set to face Wisconsin's No. 15 ranked Cole Martin.

Off the mat, Gulibon enjoys his time off and has a few lazy days, just like the rest of us. Gulibon is one of many Nittany Lion wrestlers who spent a bit of their free time gaming.

"I like to do nothing a lot, and I like to play video games," Gulibon said. "I also like working out and that's just about it."

Hall Competes in Carver-Hawkeye
In other Nittany Lion news, true freshman Mark Hall got the start at 174 pounds in last Friday night's Big Ten outing at Iowa. Although a surprise for Nittany Lion fans, Hall took his time making the decision surrounded by the support of his family, teammates and coaches. 

"I knew Wednesday night," Hall said. "It was kind of my decision. I was kind of thinking about it for a while, but coach Cael [Sanderson], my teammates, and my parents were pretty adamant about letting it be something that I wanted to do if I wanted to do it and they were really open. No one was going to be really upset if I didn't and no one was going to be really upset if I did."

Hall was likely set to be designated as a redshirt freshman, posting an 18-1 record wrestling unattached this season with impressive tournament victories, capturing the title at the Binghamton Open and the Southern Scuffle, picking up Scuffle Outstanding Wrestler honors.

"Mark's a team player," Sanderson said. "He saw that he thinks he can help the team, but it was also a tough decision. A tough decision for him and I'm excited that we have Mark Hall in our lineup now. I'm excited about the next month and a half and getting him ready for nationals. I think you'll see him make a big jump between now and then. There's a difference when you're redshirting and not." 

In high school, Hall went 277-4, putting together one of the most prolific high school careers, including a record six Minnesota state championships.

"It's hard for me to be just sitting and watching when I know I can be competing with these guys," Hall said. "I just think the more I was with the team and the more I was just seeing how things ran I just wanted to be a part of that. I think actually wrestling and getting in the Carver-Hawkeye environment, there's nothing better than wrestling somewhere like that, besides here of course."


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