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SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 


Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.

Joseph Finding Home in Rec Hall

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Redshirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph has made an immediate impact in his first year wrestling for the Nittany Lions. With a 10-1 record on the year, Joseph has earned a No. 4 ranking in the InterMat individual rankings at 165 pounds.

Joseph's noticeably impressive contributions for the Nittany Lions this year though, are just what Cael Sanderson says he has always expected.

"When we recruited him we were expecting him to be a guy that was competing as a freshman," Sanderson said. "He was doing very well in high school and comes from a great club. He has trained with a lot of the kids that we have from that part of the state and they all spoke very highly of him. I think he's where we thought he would be, the important stuff is still ahead though so it's just a matter of staying focused and continuing to progress and that's our plan for him." 

In just a few short months Joseph put together wins in each of his last nine consecutive outings, improving steadily with each win, including three against another ranked opponent in the span.  

 "I think he's just improving overall," Sanderson said. "All positions, his finishes, his shots, his tie-ups, his snaps, he's getting better on top - he's not a guy that probably tried to wrestle on top a lot, but in college it makes a big difference in close matches. He's looking better, I think his confidence is continuing to improve, but he's wrestling real well. He's scoring from a number of different attacks, his defense is solid, so we're happy where Vincenzo is at."

Practice in a room each day that's filled with some of the top wrestlers in the nation, Joseph has picked up a lot.

"We have a lot of guys on our team that have different feels," Joseph said. "So it's a really good variety of people to work with. I wrestle with Jason [Nolf] a lot. He has a lot of cool tricks and things that he does, Bo [Nickal], Shakur [Rasheed] even, and even Mark [Hall] now that he's here and he has a lot of neat things that he does differently too. So it's really good for me to wrestle with all of these guys."

After opening his collegiate career with a win on the road, Joseph began his first career dual meet in Rec Hall with a loss, but that was more than two months ago and he has since come to love the historic home gym.

"So my first experience in Rec Hall wasn't that great," Joseph said. "But then, after that, wrestling there again, I really came to appreciate it. I love wrestling there so far this year. The fans are incredible, the atmosphere is awesome, it's just a really great place to be at."

With Penn State hitting the road this week traveling to Iowa for a Big Ten showdown featuring the second-ranked Nittany Lions and the third-ranked Hawkeyes, Joseph will be tested in a tough environment away from home.

"I think recent history, these dual meets never really fail to entertain, so it's going to be a great match, it's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of passion and fire from their team and from our team. so it's going to draw a great crowd," Sanderson said.

While many wrestlers would be intimidated by an electric atmosphere like Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Joseph says he will feed off of it.

Penn State and Iowa are set to get underway in Iowa City beginning at 9 p.m. ET, with live coverage on the Big Ten Network. 

More from Sanderson below. 

Nickal's 'Secret Move' Helps Penn State Down Rutgers

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions opened the night dropping two of their first three bouts on the mat, but once Penn State reached their fourth bout of the evening, there was no looking back.

Penn State's consistent wrestlers, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal continued their undefeated seasons with bonus point victories leading the Nittany Lions to a 37-6 win against the Scarlet Knights. 

Nick Suriano, who is also undefeated on the season, began the night with a 16-2 major decision over Brandon Paetzell, putting the Nittany Lions ahead 4-0. Penn State dropped its next two bouts by decision, including a close, but tough loss for No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon who lost to the sixth-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, Anthony Ashnault.

"We were happy [Gulibon] fought the whole time," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He got a little overaggressive in the first period and got countered in a couple positions. Ashnault is a tough kid, but we'll take the over aggressiveness any day over the opposite so I think Jimmy's attitude is good and he's going to keep plugging away."

With the heart of Penn State's lineup upcoming, Sanderson says he wasn't too worried when his team trailed 6-4.

"Well when you have Zain coming up that's a confidence booster," Sanderson said. "We lost a couple matches early, but sometimes it just depends on where the matchups are. I think Rutgers is a good team, they have some good wrestlers that were just in the same weight as some of our guys that are really good." 

Penn State tallied six bonus point victories, including two pins from Retherford and Nickal, and three technical falls from Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Nick Nevills.

Joseph, who won 19-3 has quietly risen to the No. 4 ranked wrestler at 165 pounds. Joseph is 10-1 this season.

"I think he's just improving overall," Sanderson said. "I think all positions, his finishes, his shots, his tie-ups, his snaps, he's getting better on top. He's not a guy that probably tried to wrestle on top a lot, but in college it makes a big difference in close matches. He's looking better and I think his confidence is continuing to improve. He's wrestling real well, he's scoring with a number of attacks, his defense is solid, so we're happy where Vincenzo is at."

With Penn State ahead 23-6, No. 2 Nickal faced No. 14 Nicholas Gravina. Gravina came out aggressive and physical, but that didn't seem to phase Nickal. 

"I think [Nickal] kept his composure," Sanderson said. "He took his points when they were there. He probably could have fired off a couple shots earlier, but sometimes you kind of feel them out a little bit, I guess, and score when the time is right."

With an impressive move, Nickal was able to spin to a sitting up positing from bottom, then turn in with a cradle and lift Gravina up and slam him down, finishing the move off with a pin moments later.

"I had his leg and then I just kind of sat," Nickal said. "Then I picked him up and then I threw him down." 

Nickal called it his "secret move" and said he developed it with Retherford, along with with the help of YouTube, and has been working on it for about a year-and-a-half.

Sanderson also enjoyed the spectacular move just as move as the sold out Rec Hall crowd did.

"I enjoyed it just like you guys did," Sanderson said. "That's wrestling." 

To close out the night, Nick Nevills improved to 11-0, and is one of five undefeated Nittany Lions along with Suriano, Retherford, Nolf and Nickal. Nevills used nine takedowns with four near-fall points to win by technical fall.

"It's a lot more enjoyable to go out there and get takedowns rather than having some of the closer matches that I've had," Nevills said. "The coaches have just been stressing going out and being more offensive and getting the takedowns that I'm capable of getting. It was a nice match to go out there and open up more and to get going and to just listen to the coaches telling me to let the guy go and keep going out and getting after the guy. It was fun. If that's what I have to do it's not bad taking a tech fall for the team."

As he noted earlier this week, Nevills aims to keep the fans in their seats until the very end of each dual meet.

 "The ultimate goal is to win and to dominate," Nevills said. "Not just try to slide by 3-to-1, but try to do it in a way that keeps people in the stands because there are always people that are trying to hurry out to their car and trying to get out when the heavyweight is the last match."

 Penn State has now won its last 24 dual meets dating back to the end of the 2014-15 season. The Nittany Lions next travel to Carver Hawkeye Arena to take on Iowa at 9 p.m. ET Friday, Jan. 20.

Nevills Keying In On 2016-17 Goals

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Nick Nevills did not exactly get the start to his career he would have liked, but the sophomore now is back on track. Nevills, who was out with two injuries, experienced the first setback during his redshirt season in 2014-15, before another one kept him sidelined for most of last year. 

"It was hard to have to go from wrestling everyday with everyone to not being able to even be in the room for a while," Nevills said. "It was really tough, but just knowing what I wanted and just trying to stay as clear on my goals and the things I want to do while I'm here at Penn State and after Penn State, what I want to accomplish, and never lose sight of my goals." 

Having overcome the injuries with an offseason to recover, Nevills has not lost sight of those goals in the slightest, as it would take a lot to keep him out of the lineup.

"I'll wrestle until my body falls apart if I have to - which would be painful," Nevills said. "I can't see myself stop wrestling, especially anytime soon, it would take an asteroid falling out of the sky to hit me to stop me from trying to come back." 

So far Nevills is off to a meteoric start this year, with a 10-0 record, including a 6-0 mark in dual meets with four pins and one technical fall. Just this past weekend Nevills topped a pair of Top 15 opponents, defeating eighth-ranked Michael Kroells from Minnesota before pinning Nebraska's No. 15 Collin Jensen. 

The road to becoming one of five unbeaten Nittany Lions this year hasn't been an easy task though.

"Its gone okay so far," Nevills said. "I've wrestled a couple top-ranked people and have gotten some wins. This past weekend was just nice to get back into it after that long break. It was a decent weekend but I feel like I can wrestle better and I think I have wrestled better in the past, which is a good thing that I don't feel like I wrestled my best and still got it done. I think the season so far has gone pretty well for me and I've really enjoyed it so far." 

Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson likes what he has seen so far from Nevills this year.

"I think he's getting better every match," Sanderson said. "I think his confidence is improving. I think he has won some matches by being tough on top and he has won some matches by his confidence on the bottom. He knew what he was doing on Sunday when he let the guy cradle him, which is not usually a good game plan, but then he kind of broke through - that's something you see him do in here all the time." 

Before Penn State's Big Ten opening duals last week, the Nittany Lions had nearly a month off from competition after not being able to make it to the Reno Tournament of Champions due to weather. That didn't stop Nevills from staying focused. 

"I went home and wrestled with my high school team and my brother, who is here, was back with me, wrestling at my high school and my youngest brother is very, very big, about 6 feet 4 and a half inches," Nevills said. "He wrestles and he is pretty good so I had two good partners there and my coaches back home." 

While Nevills has his goals clearly in sight, like a true competitor, he still sees areas for improvement.

"My ultimate goal is to win, and to go out there and not just try to sneak by with wins," Nevills said. "I want to go out there and see how good I can get each time I wrestle, to try to be my best every time and I think if I do that then I'll win. There are some good guys in our weight class that I still haven't wrestled yet, and I'm looking forward to wrestling and just really getting to see really how good I can get. I don't feel like I'm anywhere near that point yet."

Penn State's Big Ten schedule hits Rec Hall for the firs time this weekend, when the Nittany Lions host Rutgers Friday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. with live coverage slated for BTN. 

More from Sanderson on the weekend matchup below.   

Penn State Ready for B1G Competition

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Set to return to action following nearly a month off from competition, Penn State wrestling hits the road to kick off its Big Ten slate. The first week of conference competition features a pair of Big Ten road duals, beginning with No. 12 Minnesota Friday and Nebraska Sunday. 

Ahead of the trip, Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson and junior All-American national champion Zain Retherford joined the Penn State Coaches Show to give fans a quick look ahead in anticipation of the long awaited upcoming road duals. 

Check out a few highlights from the pair of live radio segments.

Unexpected Time Off
Inclement weather forced the Nittany Lions to cancel their trip to Reno, Nevada for the Reno Tournament of Champions, originally set for Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Although an unfortunate event that Sanderson said he has never experienced in his coaching career, he's confident the extra time off won't have a negative impact come Friday.

"It's a little tricky, you want to compete and it's a lot easier to gauge where you are when you're competing but these guys go long periods of time without competing for freestyle so they're used to that," Sanderson said. "They'll be ready to go, we have two great tests this weekend."

Looking at the Minnesota Lineup
Sanderson noted that the Golden Gophers have talent at every weight class, but the challenge of opening with such a tough conference opponent is something the Nittany Lions are certainly looking forward to, especially early on in the season.

"I think Minnesota is a real good team, I think people just thought maybe they were down because of last year, but they had a great group of recruits redshirting and some very strong kids still in the program like [Brett] Pfarr and other guys throughout the lineup," Sanderson said. 

Minnesota's Pfarr will matchup with Penn State junior Matt McCutcheon, who has been working to perfect the move to 197. Pfarr is currently ranked No. 2 at 197, while McCutcheon is ranked No. 13 at 8-0 on the year. 

"McCutcheon just has to do what he does well, he has wrestled very well at 197, I think he feels a lot better, he's stronger, his health has been better," Sanderson said. "Really it's just a big weekend for him. I'm looking forward to seeing where Matt is with these top guys. He has beaten some good guys but these are title contender type of guys, so a big weekend for McCutcheon for these guys, no doubt about it."

Looking Past Minnesota
Following the Golden Gophers, Sunday brings another upcoming potential highlight matchup, pairing Penn State's Bo Nickal and Nebraska's TJ Dudley. Nickal is currently ranked No. 2 at 8-0 on the year, while Dudley is ranked No. 3 at 184. Nickal is also coming off of a dominant showing in Penn State's 46-0 win against Binghamton, downing No. 13 Steve Schneider in an 18-7 major in front of another one of Rec Hall's signature sold out crowds.

"Dudley's a tough kid and he's obviously very strong, has the ability to score a lot of points and Bo's just going to be Bo," Sanderson said. "He's going to go do what he does and especially since it's the first time they'll meet. It's a good opportunity to Bo to wrestle, you're talking about a returning NCAA finalist from last year at that weight class and a great opportunity for Bo." 

A B1G Conference
Since 2007, a Big Ten team has won the NCAA DI team national championship in each year. Largely paced by the Nittany Lions' five titles in the last six years, the Big Ten conference has become established in the national spotlight.

"It's gotten tough up and down the conference and obviously it's a positive and its something where kids want to wrestle in the Big Ten conference," Sanderson said.

Bonus Points
Along with Retherford and Nickal, add in Jason Nolf (157) and the Nittany Lion trio is a nearly unstoppable group when it comes to bonus points. At a combined 26-0 on the year led by Retherford and Nolf's 9-0 marks, the three have accounted for 21 pins, four tech falls and one major. 

"It's fun, my goal is to do my best and if pinning is my best then - I know that Nolf and Bo are the same exact way so it's a lot of fun competing that way," Retherford said.

Retherford's Routine
Retherford also took some time to share a little piece of his pre-competition routine. 
First up, is a little bit of a work out to enter weigh in warm, but then after that, less is more for Retherford.

"Some guys are different, they can drink a chocolate milk or eat a sandwich or something, I feel all bloated if I do that when I try to wrestle, so less is more I'll have some Gatorade or something, maybe an apple and then I'm pretty good," Retherford said.

Right after the 125 bout, Retherford pairs up with Nolf for another warmup session.

"We just kind of grab each other behind the scenes and just get each other's heart rates up and ready to go, sweating a little bit and then jump right out there," Retherford said.

Surging Suriano
Someone who had just as stellar of a true freshman season as what Nittany Lion Nick Suriano is already putting together, Retherford has been impressed with the poise of the newcomer.

"You never have to worry about him not being ready for a match," Retherford said. "He's always ready to go and he's just loving every second of it, I see great things out of him." 

Suriano, one of six starters heading into the Big Ten opener unbeaten on the year, will get his first experience with conference competition. At 8-0 this season and ranked No. 4 at 125, Suriano will match up against Minnesota's Ethan Lizak, who is ranked No. 6, coming off of a standout performance at the Southern Scuffle.

Friday's match time is set for 8 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion before the Nittany Lions meet the Huskers for a 3 p.m. match in Lincoln. 

Nolf Continuing Consistency in 2016-17

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Jason Nolf has already seen success with the Nittany Lions after finishing 33-2 with 15 pins as runner-up for the NCAA title at 157 pounds just one year ago. This season, Nolf is off to another great start.

Ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds, Nolf is undefeated thus far with a 9-0 record including six pins and three tech falls. Combined with teammates Bo Nickal and Zain Retherford, the trio has tallied 21 pins on the year.

"I think it's just believing in your training and doing what we do every day, the same way we do it every day," Nolf said. "Just coming into practice and working hard that shows on the mat whenever you go out there and just pretty much believing in yourself and not leaving anything back."

Nolf will join 14 teammates this weekend at the Reno Tournament of Champions this Sunday in Reno, Nevada for a one-day tournament instead of going to the two-day Southern Scuffle which the team has been a part of in years past.

"I don't really change anything," Nolf said about his approach for the one-day tournament. "Our coaches just lead us and I believe in what our coaches stand for and what they're telling us to do. We already had the Keystone Classic tournament and that was one day so we're ready for whatever. We're ready to go today."

Head coach Cael Sanderson is looking forward to seeing some top competition at upcoming tournament in Reno.

"There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good individuals," Sanderson said. "We're just looking to compete like always and I want to keep moving forward, getting better, and looking at the little things we can improve on. It's the same old story. Wrestle with some fire and some enthusiasm and go into this break feeling good about ourselves, that's the plan." 

While some might find it a difficult pressure situation to compete multiple times a day, Nolf enjoys the grind of a one-day tournament.

"I don't really think of it as pressure though, I like it, I like the grind," Nolf said. "I think throughout the day I just keep getting better and better."

After the tournament, Nolf will head home for eight days to spend some time with family for the holidays but that doesn't mean time off. Nolf plans to practice with his old team and make sure he stays in shape.

"It's not necessarily taking time off," Nolf said. It's just away from Penn State wrestling. I'll go back to maybe Young Guns practice back in Franklin Regional and maybe a couple of other practices, but I'll get some time to rest and see my family so it should be good." 

Sanderson also noted that time away from Happy Valley simply means that the team will continue to work out during their time home.

"They're pretty disciplined, they know what they need to do," Sanderson said. "Some of them will work out more than others, but we aren't going to call them up every day and be on them. It's good for them to get a little break, they'll get some work in, and it's good for them to go home. A lot of them go home and workout with their high school buddies or their high school buddies that are now wrestling at other colleges or go back to their high school practices. So it's a good break for them but they'll still workout and train."

Following the Reno Tournament of Champions and the holiday break the Nittany Lions hit the road with Big Ten conference wrestling beginning. Penn State first travels to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers Friday, Jan. 6, then to Nebraska on Sunday, Jan. 8. Following the trip the Nittany Lions returns home to Rec Hall on Friday, Jan. 13 to face Rutgers at 7 p.m.

Catch up with Sanderson ahead of the trip to Reno and check in for updates on some new facility features at the Lorenzo Wrestling complex.

Carpenter Highlights Binghamton Shutout

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bonus points were the theme of the day, as the Nittany Lions captured a 46-0 win against Binghamton Sunday afternoon at Rec Hall. In nine of 10 bouts Penn State wrestlers scored bonus points, including three pins, winning all 10 matches on the way to a shutout victory to improve to 4-0 this season.

Nick Suriano continued his domination with a 12-2 win over Steve Bulzomi at 125 pounds. At 133 pounds, it was a new face in the Nittany Lions lineup as George Carpenter made his dual meet debut.

Carpenter wrestled Ian Lupole of Binghamton who landed the first shot for a takedown, but just moments later Carpenter responded with a takedown of his own. Taking a 3-2 lead to the second period, Carpenter wouldn't be taken down again, landing two more takedowns and accumulating eight near fall points throughout the rest of the match on his way to an impressive 17-2 technical fall victory.

"He looked great," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "Our fans, our crowd, they appreciate effort and hustle, and that's what George is. He gave up the first takedown and then came back and just kept fighting. He got the second takedown and the crowd was just excited about the effort he put into it, which was what we like to see. George did a great job."

Carpenter was happy to finally experience a dual meet on the mat.

"It's pretty exciting," Carpenter said. "It's a great opportunity and I'm grateful for the coaches giving me the opportunity. I'm just thinking about wrestling while I'm out there, but as soon as it was done I couldn't help but smile seeing everybody and seeing all the fans."

At 141 pounds an aggressive Jimmy Gulibon was on display, winning 12-3 against Dylan Caruana, while the ever-consistent, Zain Retherford at 149 pounds and Jason Nolf at 157 pounds, recorded pins at 2:39 and 3:48, respectively.

At 174 pounds, Geno Morelli turned in a dominating performance with a 22-9 major decision. Morelli had four takedowns in the first period alone on his way to nine total takedowns in addition to 2:07 of riding time.

Bo Nickal, who has continued to flourish this season, won 18-7 by major decision. While Nickal improves to 8-0 on the year, he snaps an impressive seven-match pin streak, slipping behind Retherford (8) for the team lead.

Nick Nevills dominated at heavyweight with a win against Connor Calkins. Nevills tallied 11 points, including three takedowns and four near fall points before registering his third pin of the year at 3:57 to close out the shutout victory.

"I continue to try to get better at things throughout the week," Nevills said. I try to practice it in the room and out there in the match. I've been working on different things with Coach Varner, Coach Cunningham and Coach Cael, and when you get to wrestle with guys like that all the time and the guys we have on the team you're always going to continue to improve."

Coach Sanderson thought the dual provided the team with a chance to improve on aspects they've been working on in practice.

"It's just another opportunity to compete and another opportunity to, like Nick [Nevills] said, try things you're working on," Sanderson said. "You're just trying to get better every match that's the plan whether we're wrestling Binghamton or a Big Ten opponent, it's the same mentality and same consistency."

Next Sunday, 15 Nittany Lions will hit the road, traveling to the Reno Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nevada, allowing Sanderson another look at some of the weight classes that still have wrestlers working for a spot.

Suriano Making an Immediate Impact

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Success is nothing new for Penn State wrestling's true freshman Nick Suriano. The 125-pound wrestler, who went 159-0 in high school, is currently 7-0 for the Nittany Lions and is already making an impact in the lineup. 

Suriano takes the reins at 125 after former Nittany Lion Nico Megaludis, who won a national championship in his senior season prior to graduation. Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson sees the similarities in the dedicated approach and work ethic between the two. 

"[Suriano and Megaludis] are really similar in that way," Sanderson said. "Nick is a guy you have to kind of drag him out of the gym every day." "But he's coachable, he understands that and that's half the battle."

The Paramus, New Jersey native hasn't seen any struggles in his transition from high school to DI athletics. Suriano has solidified himself as a consistent presence in Penn State's lineup, rising as one of the top contenders in the country.

"He has a great feel for the sport so he makes adjustments quickly," Sanderson said. "Even in his match on Sunday he was close to scoring early in the match and then in the second period he hit a similar position but finished it differently, so he just has the ability to adjust in his matches and he figures things out. That's pretty rare, that doesn't happen a lot."

Already identified as unique, Suriano also heads into Sunday's outing against Binghamton without surrendering a single takedown to an opponent with a perfect 7-0 record on the year. 

"He has that gift and you add that gift with the tenacity and the mental toughness and the fortitude, discipline and endurance he's just got a lot going for him," Sanderson said.

So far this season, Suriano has two marquee dual meet wins against Stanford's Connor Schram and Lehigh's Darian Cruz, both top 10 ranked opponents at the time, helping him to a No. 4 ranking at 125 pounds. Although both wins were decisions, 3-0 over Schram and 7-0 over Cruz, Suriano dominated his opponents, controlling the match.

"I want the best of the best," Suriano said. "I'm chasing my goals and I need to beat the best to be the best. I know I have to climb up the ranks and prove to people. I know in my heart where I belong and I just need to go out and prove it." 

When you're a part of one of the best programs in the country there are plenty of mentors and experienced veterans around the program willing to help, and Suriano has been able to take advantage of the opportunity.

"I have a ton of mentors here," Suriano said. "Obviously, Coach Cael, who I think is the greatest wrestler ever, and Zain Retherford, who I really look up to, and all the guys on the team - Bo [Nickal], Jason Nolf, Nico, I look up to a lot of those guys. Zain is a guy who I can relate to how we wrestle - strong, firm and forward. I try to pick his brain whenever I can."

For Suriano and Retherford, sometimes those moments together aren't always spent talking about wrestling.

"We're always talking," Suriano said. "We're usually talking about food and some different stuff, not just wrestling. We have our own little kicks and like I said, whenever I can pick Zain's head and learn from him that's when I'm only going to get better. As you can see what he's doing out there, dominating guys, and putting people away, that's what I'm going to be doing and that's what we train for."

Suriano, who has plenty of more time in a Nittany Lion singlet, also has a few other career goals in mind.

"I like watching MMA and I love UFC and following that," Suriano said. "One of my ultimate goals is to be a UFC champ, that's something you might not know. After my wrestling career, I can chase all that stuff."  

Suriano and the rest of the third-ranked Nittany Lions return to action against Binghamton at 2 p.m. Sunday in Rec Hall. 

"I train hard, this is my main focus of the day - to train and just be a machine. I go after guys better than me, bigger than me, older than me, I don't care who they are it's just trying to get better."

Catch up with Coach Sanderson as he looks ahead to Penn State's upcoming outing in Rec Hall.     

BLOG: Consistency Helps Penn State Past Lehigh

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling continued its dominance at Sunday's Bryce Jordan Center Dual, defeating ninth-ranked Lehigh in front of more than 15,000 fans.

"I think overall we wrestled pretty good," Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson said. "I think that's a good team, a top 10 dual team for sure. I think they're going to beat some good teams this year, tough all the way up and down their lineup for the most part." 

Although true freshman Nick Suriano opened the afternoon with an impressive victory against sixth-ranked Lehigh junior Darian Cruz, the Nittany Lions were trailing 7-3 after a pair of losses at 133 and 141 for Nittany Lions Jered Cortez and Jimmy Guliabon.

Suriano, who has been a spark for the Nittany Lions all season, handed Cruz, an All-American, his first loss of the season.

"That was big," Sanderson said. "When you have a leadoff man who is consistent and their effort is consistent and their mindset is consistent, I think that's a huge blessing to the program. So, we're very happy, blessed and grateful to have Nick as our leadoff man."

When first asked about his first collegiate outing in the packed venue, Suriano made no mention of his dominant performance, focusing rather on the opportunity.

"This arena is unbelievable," Suriano said. "We were just talking about it before, Rec Hall is a little more personal, fans are a little louder and a little more uptight, but this is the kind of atmosphere I train for and this is what Penn State offers and it's awesome. Beating a ranked guy, it doesn't matter it's just getting out to wrestle for me, is wonderful in this environment."

Penn State's top-ranked Zain Retherford shifted the momentum for the Nittany Lions, pinning ninth-ranked Laike Gardner to remain unbeaten on the season.

At 184, third-ranked Bo Nickal registered his seventh consecutive pin of the season, downing Kyle Gentile at the 2:35 marker. 

For Nickal, he simply credited his success this season to a focused approach on one match at at time.

"I'm just having fun," Nickal said, "I love wrestling, so every time I get to go out there I'm just competing with gratitude."

Along with Retherford and Nickal, Penn State cruised to the 30-10 final score with Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Matt McCutcheon (197) and Nick Nevills (285) all clinching wins.

At 3-0 on the season, Penn State returns to action Sunday, Dec. 11, hosting Binghamton at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall.

This Week in Penn State Wrestling - 12/1/2016

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Nickal Building on Success in 2016
By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Success is nothing new for Penn State sophomore Bo Nickal. Last season wrestling at 174 pounds, Nickal finished with an impressive 33-2 record as an All-American runner-up for the NCAA title. Through two dual meets and a tournament this season at 184 pounds, Nickal isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

"Nothing has really changed," Nickal said regarding the weight class change. "Just the same thing, sticking to the plan, staying consistent. I worked on moving forward, pressure and stuff like that so I'm wrestling the same and just having fun. Doing what I do." 

On The Mat
After eight pins last season, Nickal is already closing in on that number with six pins through six bouts this season.

Not only is Nickal in competition with wrestlers from around the country at other schools, but also with some of his own teammates. 

"[Bo Nickal, Zain Retherford, and Jason Nolf] want to see each other get pins and help the team succeed, but obviously, there's fun in competing for those types of stats," Sanderson said. "We want to see all of our guys compete like that, but in a friendly way." 

While pinning opponents has become routine, it certainly isn't always an expectation. 

"Well I hate to say you expect [a pin]," Sanderson said. "But those guys have been there in those positions and those situations and are obviously very good and they have experience under their belts. So you kind of know what you have going out there and Bo is a guy that pins so I don't want to say we expected it, it's still exciting and it's a challenge for him." 

With the lone Bryce Jordan Center dual meet of the season upcoming against Lehigh, Nickal is excited for another shot to wrestle on the BJC stage.

"The BJC is awesome," Nickal said. "It's unlike any environment that I've ever wrestled in. It's incredible and I'm just super excited to get back and wrestle in front of a sellout crowd. It's going to be a lot of fun for sure."

Off The Mat
With many Penn State student athletes participating in Giving Tuesday, Nickal and the wrestling team are no different, and they try to give back to the surrounding community throughout the year.  

"We like to do a lot with our community and stay involved," Nickal said. "They give us so much support so it only makes sense to just give a little back to them through the youth program, working with the kids and stuff like that and volunteering. I know a lot of our guys are involved in SAAB and do a lot of volunteering through that so we try to stay active."

While many might expect one of the nation's top wrestlers to constantly be in the gym, he finds some time away for hobbies. One of which he shares with some teammates as well.

"I play a lot of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale and stuff like that," Nickal said with a grin. "So I'm into video games a little bit." 

Nickal looks to build on his strong start Sunday at noon when the Nittany Lions host Lehigh in the Bryce Jordan Center. Nickal will have a probable matchup against freshman Kyle Gentile who is 1-2 this season. 

Check out more updates from Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson below.


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