Skip to main content Skip to footer

Recently in Wrestling Category

This Week in Penn State Wrestling - 11/16/16

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a dominant home opening win against Stanford last week, Penn State wrestling is set to head to Penn for the Keystone Classic Sunday, Nov. 20 at the historic Palestra. 

The Nittany Lions will not only send their starting lineup to compete, but will also add an addition nine more wrestlers in the event. This week, we caught up with Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson and Nittany Lion Zain Retherford for an update. 

Check out updates from each Q&A session below.

Cael Sanderson Zain Retherford

BLOG: Nittany Lions Shine in Opener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A standing ovation was how the No. 4 Nittany Lions (2-0) were welcomed into Rec Hall for their first home dual meet of the season after beating Army on Friday 45-0. Moments before the match began, the Nittany Lions hoisted the 2015-16 NCAA national championship and Big Ten championship banners into the rafters.

The meet was highlighted by four pins for the Nittany Lions, who beat No. 12 Stanford (1-1) handily 36-6.  

"Anytime we're wrestling we want guys looking for bonus points," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We have some guys that are great at pinning, but Stanford has a good team and they're solid all the way up and down their lineup."

After Vincenzo Joseph lost 18-12 to start the meet at 165 pounds, Geno Morelli knotted the score at three with a decision victory of his own, 6-3 over No. 13 Jim Wilson.

"That was the first time I've ever wrestled besides later in the match," Morelli said. "I kind of liked it. You don't think about it as much and I felt more relaxed today and anytime you can get the momentum rolling it's good. I feel good about where I'm headed. It's a process and I think being relaxed tonight helped me a little bit more."

Next, Bo Nickal took to the mat, wrestling Austin Flores at 184 pounds. Nickal dominated, recording nine takedowns and four near-fall points, capping it off with a pin 6:21 into the bout.

"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."

At the intermission, Penn State held a 15-3 lead after Matt McCutcheon and Nick Nevills won by decision 3-2 and 3-1.

Nick Suriano led things off after the break at 125 pounds wrestling All-American Connor Schram. After a quiet first period, Suriano escaped to begin the second and the second stall called on Schram gave Suriano a 2-0 lead. In the third, Suriano rode out Schram to accumulate 1:56 of riding time to secure a 3-0 decision victory over a quality opponent.

 "I was just riding and sticking it to him and putting pressure on him," Suriano said. "I felt him tiring. He was a strong, big opponent, but I felt him weaken in the third and I was just going to keep him down there and wasn't going to let him out."

Suriano was excited for his first match in Rec Hall.

"It was an awesome experience," Suriano said. "The crowd was unbelievable like I expected. It was a tough opponent my first time here but it was awesome. To represent Penn State here is unbelievable, it's what I've dreamed of."

Next at 133 pounds, Jered Cortez continued his winning ways with a pin just 2:40 into the first period in his first official collegiate debut, having missed last year due to transfer eligibility rules. Cortez dominated with two takedowns and six near-fall points.

Penn State's Zain Retherford at 149 pounds and Jason Nolf at 157 pounds closed out the dual meet with two pins of their own as well. Retherford pinned Stanford junior Tommy Pawelski 2:16 into the first period. Nolf battled and was tied with Paul Fox at five after the first period, but Nolf then exploded totaling 10 takedowns before his second pin in as many matches with 44 seconds left in the third period.

"When our guys are wrestling for the team more than themselves they're going to wrestle better," Sanderson said. "That's something that we've been blessed with for the last couple of years and we need to keep that going."

The Nittany Lions are back in action at 9 a.m. Sunday Nov. 20 on the road at the Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We have a lot to build off of," Sanderson said. "And it's a lot more fun and easier to build off of success than not."

Penn State Wrestling Season Preview - Cael Sanderson

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another season of Penn State wrestling has nearly arrived, as the Nittany Lions are set for a split dual meet weekend to kick off the 2016-17 season. Big Ten and NCAA national champions in five of the last six seasons, the Nittany Lions travel to Army West Point Friday, Nov. 11 before returning home to Rec Hall to host Stanford Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. 

With a mix of youth and veteran experience, Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson's team includes 10 Nittany Lions ranked within InterMat's preseason top 20, as well a possible eight underclassmen who could compete in the starting lineup this year. 

Ahead of the trip to Army West Point, Sanderson sat down with for a one-on-one session to talk 2016-17 and the excitement for the upcoming season. 

Wrestling Media Day Recap

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With wrestling season less than two weeks away, head coach Cael Sanderson spoke with the media for the first time leading up to the start of the 2016-17 campaign. The defending national champion Nittany Lions are looking for their sixth national title in the last seven years.

The summer brought no time off for the Penn State coaching staff, as this particular summer was magnified with the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Sanderson thinks the Olympic Games can assist his coaching staff and his team.

 "It's good for us as coaches to be around the best coaches and the best wrestling in the world," Sanderson said. "Although it's one of the oldest sports, it continues to evolve; technique, tactic, strategy."

Two members of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club competed in the Olympic Games and provide an advantage for Penn State's collegiate wrestlers.

"Having guys like Frank Molinaro and Franklin Gomez training in the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club is very valuable," Sanderson said. "Our college kids are walking around and training side by side with Olympians, world medalists, Olympic champions. I think that gives you a lot of confidence." 

At 125 pounds the Nittany Lions lost four-time All-American and last season's NCAA champion, Nico Megaludis, who graduated. Filling in will be Nick Suriano, a true freshman from Paramus, New Jersey. Suriano won four New Jersey state championships and posted a 159-0 record. 

"I've been here all summer so I had a little jump," Suriano said. "That was great for me. I was training, lifting, going with the club guys, so it was great, I'm a lot better. It's going to be great, I can't wait to show what I can do to my fans at Penn State and to my personal fans at home. It's going to be awesome." 

At 133 pounds Jered Cortez, a University of Illinois transfer, will represent Penn State. Cortez redshirted during his 2014-15 campaign with the Fighting Illini and was not allowed to compete last year as a collegian because he transferred within the Big Ten conference. Last season Cortez went 12-0 in open tournaments, with one pin and three tech falls. 

As of right now at 141 pounds senior Jimmy Gulibon will get the first try at the spot. Gulibon earned All-America honors two years ago wrestling at 133 pounds. Last season wrestling at 141, Gulibon went 2-2 at the NCAA tournament. 

"I would say Gulibon has the advantage there but there are certainly a few different guys challenging him for that spot," Sanderson said. "That's healthy for our program and it will work itself out."

There are no surprises when it comes to the Nittany Lion starter at 149 pounds. Zain Retherford, a redshirt junior and one of the top wrestlers in the country will look to add another national championship after an undefeated season last year. Retherford was also the NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler and the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year after recording 15 falls, eight tech falls and seven majors. 

But for Retherford, it isn't about his past accomplishments.

"This is a new year and a new opportunity for me to reach my goals," Retherford said. "That's what I plan to do this year."

The Nittany Lions don't have any questions at 157 pounds either with All-American Jason Nolf in the lineup. Nolf finished last season second at the national championships with a 33-2 overall record. The only two losses were to Isaiah Martinez, an eventual national champion, but Nolf did pin Martinez in their first meeting during a dual meet. 

Penn State could also see another new face in the lineup for Penn State at 165 pounds with Vincenzo Joseph possibly getting the starting nod. The redshirt freshman from Pittsburgh went 11-0 in open tournaments during his redshirt season last year with three pins, five tech falls and a major. Joseph won two-straight Pennsylvania state titles during his last two years in high school. 

"He's another freshman and a guy we have confidence in," Sanderson said. "He had a very good year last year and we know he was a big time recruit for us."

There are still question marks at 174 pounds with Bo Nickal on the move. Senior Geno Morelli, who went 2-2 at his first NCAA tournament at 165 pounds last year will be competing with Shakur Rasheed for the spot.   

"He really did some amazing things but was just in the wrong weight class last year at 165," Sanderson said of Rasheed. "We still don't know what he's capable of. He's very competitive, and talented, works very hard."

After an impressive freshman campaign Bo Nickal has made the jump to 184 pounds and will compete with Matt McCutcheon for the spot. McCutcheon, a red-shirt junior, is a two-time NCAA qualifier, while Nickal was the runner-up at 174 pounds in his redshirt freshman season with the Nittany Lions. Nickal went 33-2 last season and accumulated eight falls, seven tech falls, and eight majors.

The Nittany Lions lost Morgan McIntosh, last year's NCAA champion at 197 pounds, to graduation and will look to redshirt freshman Kellen Stout to fill the void. Stout went 11-3 wrestling in open tournaments last year mostly at 184. Anthony Cassar is also battling Stout for the position, but is still recovering from an injury and is still weeks away, according to Sanderson. 

Rounding out the Nittany Lions' lineup is heavyweight Nick Nevills who has high expectations after setback with injuries. Nevills was in Penn State's lineup toward the end of the season last year and posted a 6-3 record and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament. 

The Nittany Lions also added Jake Varner to the coaching staff this offseason. Varner, a 2010 Iowa State graduate, will join Sanderson's staff along with assistants Casey Cunningham and Cody Sanderson. 

Penn State beings their season at Army, Friday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. The Nittany Lions debut at home is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, against Stanford. 

Penn State Hosts 2016-17 Kickoff Event

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in the 2016-17 season, the Penn State wrestling team put on a show for fans in Rec Hall.

From seven-year-olds donning their own Penn State singlets, to long-time Nittany Lion fans, many came out to show support for the team that has five national championships in the last six years, hoping to add another title this year.

"I mean it's pretty awesome just to see this many fans come out here for a kickoff event," Bo Nickal, last year's NCAA runner-up at 174 pounds, said. "It just makes me even more excited to wrestle this year and get back out on the mat." 

The team activities began with each wrestler being introduced by class, beginning with the freshman group, as smoke filled the north end of Rec Hall for a dramatic entrance. Following the team were the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club resident athletes, which included Olympians Frank Molinaro and Franklin Gomez, as well as two-time NCAA Champion David Taylor.

As the wrestlers warmed up on the mat, the Nittany Lion head assistant coach Casey Cunningham, explained some of the techniques that the wrestlers were using and discussed how he and the coaching staff are constantly looking to expand their knowledge on the sport, techniques and nutrition.

While the wrestlers sparred, Olympians Molinaro, who narrowly missed a bronze medal, and Gomez, who just came up short as well, both spoke to the crowd. Both talked about their experiences at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and being around the Penn State program.

And for many Penn State wrestling fans, the success of Penn State wrestling is fun to watch.

"We've been here at Rec Hall since 1970 and we've been following Penn State wrestling since it has been here in Rec Hall," Connie Christiansen said along with her husband Monty. "The activity that goes on with Penn State wrestling is some that one likes to follow. It's very clean, it's very neat and it's very very active for every fan, they don't even need to know about wrestling." 

With the season quickly approaching, Bo Nickal and his teammates are focusing on having another successful season.

"I'm just trying to do my best every match," Nickal said. "Just keep wrestling hard and having fun so, I mean, I do this because I love it and because I enjoy it and I'm just going to try and do that every match."

The season is just around the corner with the Nittany Lions starting on the road at Army, Friday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. The first home meet is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 when Penn State hosts Stanford.

VIDEO: Frank Molinaro Headed to Rio 2016 Olympics

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling national champion and current assistant coach Frank Molinaro is set to represent the United States at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August.

Molinaro qualified for the Olympics in dramatic fashion after the United States solidified a berth at the 65 kg weight class following a doping violation involving participants in a qualifying tournament. Molinaro learned of the news while on the golf course in Happy Valley.

The 2012 NCAA champ at 149 pounds will spend the summer training and competing before traveling to Rio in early August. Molinaro and Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson talked with the media on Monday about Molinaro's spot in the Olympics.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session VI - Lions Crown Two Champions

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

NCAA Championships - Nittany Lions Clinch 2016 National Title | VIDEO: Cael Sanderson

NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup | NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

NEW YORK - Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford put an exclamation point on Penn State's fifth team national championship in six season by earning their first individual national titles on Saturday night in sold out Madison Square Garden.

Having already clinched the 2016 NCAA title during the morning session, the Nittany Lions entered the evening with five individuals seeking their first championship in a Blue & White singlet. Megaludis and Retherford wrestled outstanding matches on the sport's biggest stage en route to a spot atop the podium inside The Garden.

11803023.jpegMegaludis has been a rock solid competitor for the Nittany Lions since he stepped on to campus five years ago. No stranger to the stage at the national tournament, Megaludis ran out of his corner to the national title tilt for the third time in his career.

The Nittany Lion fifth-year senior jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a first-period takedown against Iowa's Thomas Gilman. The Murrysville native added a second takedown in the second and never looked back en route to a 6-2 triumph over Gilman.

The four-time All-American had a look in his eye that he was not going to be denied the opportunity to have his arm raised as a national champion in his final attempt at the ultimate prize.

When the clock ticked to zero, Megaludis erupted with jubilation. He immediately raised his arms to salute the boisterous Penn State faithful in the corner of Madison Square Garden. Megaludis then raced to the corner of the mat to embrace head coach Cael Sanderson and associate head coach Cody Sanderson before returning to the center to have his arm raised as a national champion for the Nittany Lions.

"I'm the champion. I don't know, man, nothing else to it. I'm the champion. It's a pretty good feeling," said Megaludis.

Megaludis has rarely shown any type of emotion after the 119 victories during his career, but this night was special. It has been five years of hard work and effort to reach the pinnacle of the sport, and Megaludis was grateful for the opportunity he earned on Saturday night.

"I'm just relieved. I knew I was going to be the champion," said Megaludis. "It was a done deal a year ago when I signed everywhere - my room, Penn State, my room at home, my bathroom at home, my wrestling room at home, my car steering wheel: I am 2016 national champion. I come into my car every day on my steering wheel and I see that and I brainwashed myself. And I don't know, I brainwashed myself and I got it done."

"He's a guy that we wanted to win in the worst possible way. And it was emotional," said Sanderson. "It was awesome. We're happy for him, a kid that works extremely hard. He's very disciplined and very consistent. Always gives his best effort. Very rare."
11803069.jpegRetherford's run through the bracket at 149 pounds was nothing short of remarkable during the three-day tournament. After rolling to a 21-6 technical fall in the first round, Retherford pinned his next three opponents on his way to the final match against Brandon Sorenson from Iowa.

The Nittany Lion sophomore made it five-straight matches with bonus points in the final with a dominant 10-1 victory over Sorenson. Retherford tallied two takedowns in the first period, an escape and a takedown in the second, a takedown in the third and clinched the riding time point for a major decision victory.

No stage is too big for the Benton, Pa., native because each time he steps onto the mat, he does it with great enjoyment. Retherford is fierce with the pace he wrestles at, and his motor genuinely never stops. The amount of pressure he puts on opponents is relentless. But what separates him from most wrestlers is his attitude.

"I've been dreaming of this moment since I started going to camps when I was really little," said Retherford. "I looked at posters on the wall of guys who had won national titles wanting to be one of those guys. Today, it feels great to say that I have achieved it."

"He's only a sophomore. But the pressure he puts on his opponents and his ability to score points," said Sanderson. "We're glad he's only a sophomore. We wish he was a freshman. Or just coming into school, I guess. But great leader for us. We hope everyone can follow his lead. He made a huge jump from his freshman year."

Wrestling is a unique sport with the peaks and valleys of the national tournament. As a team, Coach Sanderson and the Nittany Lions reached the highest of highs after winning the team title earlier in the day. Megaludis and Retherford then claimed individual crowns, but the final three Lions on the mat came up just short of earning victories in their title bouts.

Jason Nolf and Illinois standout Isaiah Martinez put on a show at the 157-pound final, with Martinez scoring a late takedown to claim a 6-5 win. Bo Nickal then rallied from 9-4 down at the end of the second period and fell short by a count of 11-9 against Ohio State's Myles Martin in the 174-pound title match. Senior Morgan McIntosh's stellar career fell just shy, as well, in a narrow 4-2 decision to Missouri's J'Den Cox. The four-time All-American finished with a 114-19 career mark.

Coach Sanderson was thrilled with the collective team's efforts and the individual honors Megaludis and Retherford achieved, but he will enter the offseason hungry to watch the team improve and learn from its experiences in New York.

"Coaching wrestling is tough. Because it's a team game. We want to win as a team, obviously," said Sanderson. "But we have 10 individuals and as a coach my job is to help those individual. If the individuals do well, the team does well. So it's certainly bittersweet. It's tough, it's painful. It hurts when guys don't reach their goals. And in the long run those young guys, it will make them a bit hungrier, they'll have a little more urgency to improve. They'll come back here with fire."

Penn State finished the national tournament with 23.0 bonus points, six All-Americans, a sixth place finish, three second-place finishes and two national champions. Penn State now has 25 national champions (32 titles) in the program's rich history.

The recipe for success at the NCAA Wrestling Championships is consistency, and the Nittany Lions were stout for three days en route to a 25.5-point margin over the second-place team in the standings.

"I think, when you win the national championships, you've got to be pretty happy and pumped," said Sanderson. "Obviously a great team effort -- five guys in the finals, six All-Americans. We're happy. But we leave here ready to improve and build and get some freshmen to the next level. And we're happy we won but we're excited about the future also."

The Nittany Lions' reign over the wrestling world returned in Madison Square Garden. Penn State Wrestling is now a five-time national champion.

Final Team Standings
1. Penn State - 123.0
2. Oklahoma State - 97.5
3. Ohio State - 86.0
4. Virginia Tech - 82.0
5. Iowa - 81.0

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (32-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION

149: #1 Zain Retherford (34-0) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION

157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-2) - 4-1 - Second Place

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-2) - 4-1 - Second Place

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-1) - 4-1 - Second Place

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session V - Nittany Lions Clinch National Title

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

11799126.jpegNCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup | NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team returned to the pinnacle of the sport on Saturday morning inside Madison Square Garden by clinching its fifth national championship in the last six seasons.

By virtue of the results in the fifth session of the NCAA Championships, the Lions will head into the national finals with the team title locked up as the 2016 national champions.

By no means is a national team title easy to win, but Penn State's scoring output in New York certainly made it appear easy. Since the time the Lions stepped onto the mat Thursday morning in the opening matches of the tournament, they were on a mission to score.

The relentless approach and quantity of bonus points Penn State tallied made it seem like the Lions had 10 or 11 wrestlers competing in a Blue and White singlet this week. It takes a complete team effort to reign over the wrestling world, and every wrestler on the roster played a role in the 2016 national championship.

Penn State's six All-Americans were the stars for the Nittany Lions, though. Nico Megaludis, Jordan Conaway, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal and Morgan McIntosh added to the illustrious list of All-Americans in the program's storied history.

For the third time in program history, the Lions earned five spots in the NCAA finals. Those five wrestlers - Megaludis, Retherford, Nolf, Nickal and McIntosh - accounted for a total of 20.5 bonus points for the Nittany Lions. All five will have an opportunity to become national champions on Saturday night, but their efforts in New York have been nothing short of remarkable.

Head coach Cael Sanderson sets the tone in the wrestling room with a positive attitude and competitive spirit. The team enjoys going to work everyday, and the group is grateful for the opportunity to represent Penn State on and off the mat.

It's not a grind for the Nittany Lions to prepare for competition. It's something the team embraces with enthusiasm. And that mantra translated into a truly dominant week in Madison Square Garden.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a great base for every other sport that there is and it's fun," said Sanderson. "These guys, they dream about winning NCAA Championships when as a 5-year-old. We want them to keep that mentality at Penn State, that shouldn't change when they get to the nationals, we say, what did you want to do? You want to win, let's go win."

Sanderson's teams have a knack for competing at peak-level in March and rising to the occasion when the postseason tournaments arrive. The 2016 team marched to a Big Ten title two weeks ago, and now the Nittany Lions are back atop the wrestling world as the 2016 national champions thanks to a stellar effort in The World's Most Famous Arena.

Now, the team can focus on its five national championship matches on Saturday night as it sits atop the wrestling world.

"Regardless of the (team outcome), we are still going out there to try and score points and win every match," said Sanderson.

Session V Roundup

Senior Jordan Conaway wrapped up his Nittany Lion career on Saturday morning by finishing sixth in the 133-pound draw. After coming up just short in the NCAA quarterfinals on Friday, Conaway rallied for a pair of victories in the evening session to become an All-American for the second time in his career.

Wrestling in the Medal Round of the national tournament on Saturday, Conaway dropped two tight matches against third-seeded Zane Richards (4-3) from Illinois and eighth-seeded Eric Montoya (7-4) from Nebraska. All of the Blue and White clad fans inside Madison Square Garden wanted to see Conaway walk off the mat as winner in his final bout, but you won't find a wrestler with more drive and determination than the fifth-year senior from Abbotstown, Pa.

"He's a great individual and just a great kid," said Sanderson. "He's the type of guy that if he was a member of your family, you would be super proud of him. He's just a phenomenal individual and a person to be around."

Conaway originally committed to Liberty in 2011, but when the university cut its wrestling program, Conaway was looking for a resting place in college. His phone rang in March of 2011, and it was Sanderson looking to talk with Conaway about joining the Penn State program. He committed to be a Nittany Lion, and the rest is history.

The senior is a model student-athlete and will leave Happy Valley as a two-time All-American.

"When he gets beat, it's not because he didn't go out there and fight. Jordan is a great example of a guy who gives everything he has during every match," said Sanderson.

Session six of the NCAA Championships begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN and The stage is set for five Nittany Lions in their quest to become national champions for the Blue and White. Nico Megaludis will kick things off just after 8 p.m. against Iowa's Thomas Gilman.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (31-3) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 4 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (30-8) - 4-3 - Sixth Place

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (33-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois)

165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 11 Myles Martin (Ohio State)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 J'Den Cox (Missouri)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Press Conference (3/18/16)

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team flexed its muscle with a dominant performance in the fourth session of the NCAA Championships on Friday evening inside Madison Square Garden.

Penn State roared to an undefeated session, which included a stellar 5-0 mark in national semifinal bouts. There will be five Nittany Lions on the sport's grandest stage come Saturday night in The Garden after Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) all earned trips to the finals with victories.

Simply put, the Lions were phenomenal in all seven bouts they contested in before a crowd of more than 18,000 raucous fans at MSG. In addition to the five finalists, senior Jordan Conaway (133) battled past two All-Americans to reach the consolation semifinals and All-America status for the second straight season.

"We're happy we wrestled well, a lot of tough matches, big day, quarter and semifinals," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "Tonight was good. We went 7-for-7, which is good, (Jordan) Conaway wrestled great. He was in the wrestle backs, beat a couple of All-Americans"

It takes a total effort to find success in the team scoring race, and the Lions could not have put together a more impressive session than the one on Friday. With the seven wins and five finalists, Penn State enters Saturday with 114.0 points and owns a 34.5-point edge over second place Oklahoma State and a 36.5-point lead over third-place Iowa.

With two more sessions and lots of action still on tap in New York, the team race has not been decided, but the Nittany Lions are in control.

Session IV Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Penn State - 114.0 (5 Finalists, 1 Consolation)
2. Oklahoma State - 79.5 (2 Finalists, 4 Consolation)
3. Iowa - 48.5 (3 Finalists, 3 Consolation)
4. Virginia Tech - 69.5 (0 Finalists, 6 Consolation)
5. Ohio State - 68.0 (2 Finalists, 2 Consolation)

11798196.jpegPenn State's stellar evening began with Megaludis punching a ticket to the NCAA finals for the third time in his career. The four-time All-American topped American's David Terao by an 8-2 margin. Megaludis had a takedown in each period on the way to the national finals at 125 pounds.

"I've been wrestling well for the most part this tournament. I've been picking up each round, and I just - I'll wrestle better and better each match, and tomorrow it's going to be awesome. I can't wait," said Megaludis.

Retherford continued a string of truly dominant performances in New York with his third-straight pin. The two-time All-American marched into the finals with a fall at the 4:49 mark against Michigan's Alec Pantaleo. Retherford's trip to New York has included a technical fall and three pins, largely thanks to his relentless pace on the mat.

"You know, that's something you just - you can work on your shape, so that's something. You might not be as talented, or you might not have the technique at that point in time, but you can always - there's no excuse for really being out of shape ever, I feel like," said Retherford.

In the third semifinal match for the Nittany Lions, Nolf raced to 10-point lead with a total of eight near-fall points in the opening minutes. The redshirt freshman never looked back from there en route to a 19-4 technical fall (5:19) in the semifinals against Rider's Chad Walsh. Nolf has scored a pin, two technical falls and a major in his first appearance at the national tournament.

"I'm excited. I didn't really care who I wrestled. I'm just going to go out with the same mentality, score a lot of points, and same thing is going to happen as I've been doing. I'm going to keep trying to score points," said Nolf.

Nickal made if 4-for-4 in semifinal bouts for the Nittany Lions with a narrow 4-3 victory over Indiana's Nathan Jackson. Nickal's second period takedown and defense in the final seconds proved to be the difference in a very tight match at 174 pounds. He will learn from the experience, and Nickal is excited to be a part of Saturday's final match.

"I'm looking forward to keeping it going for a long time coming and being in this venue it's great," said Nickal. "I saw a sign that said Madison Square Garden, Most Famous Venue in the World. Doesn't get much better than competing here. It's an awesome experience. Glad to get out there and compete and do what I love and have the people I love, my teammates and my coaches, so really grateful for this opportunity."

The final Nittany Lion on the semifinal mats was a senior who has relished the opportunity to represent the Blue and White since the season began in October. McIntosh is a humble and grateful as anyone in the program. His 3-1 victory over Iowa's Nathan Burak propelled the Lion senior to his first finals appearance on Friday.

"Obviously I would have liked to have gotten more points and taken more shots, but some matches score like that and you just gotta move on and take what you can and learn from it and move on to the finals," said McIntosh. "It was fun and, you know, it was exciting. You can't ask for a better place to be wrestling out there than in the semifinals of the tournament in a place like this in front of a crowd like that. So I'm happy to be here and grateful for the opportunity."

The Nittany Lions are poised for another big day in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Through four sessions in New York, Penn State has tallied 22.0 bonus points. The remarkable total is more than team total of 55 of the 72 teams competing at the NCAA Championships.

Session five of the NCAA Championships begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday (ESPNU and The medal round will be contested on three mats with the consolation semifinals, third, fifth and seventh place bouts on tap. Conaway will be the lone Lion in action as he pursues third on Saturday morning in The Garden. He can do no worse than fifth at 133 pounds. Stay tuned for much more from New York.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (31-3) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 4 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (30-6) - 4-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next: Consolation Semifinals vs. No. 3 Zane Richards (Illinois)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (33-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois)

165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 11 Myles Martin (Ohio State)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 J'Den Cox (Missouri)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team turned in a dominant session inside Madison Square Garden on Friday morning with five wrestlers powering into the NCAA semifinals.

In all, the Lions went 5-1 in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, which included four bonus-point victories. Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) each earned All-America status and will wrestle in Friday night's semifinals after posting victories in session three of the NCAA Championships.

Penn State's bonus point total has been the story of the week in New York. The Nittany Lions have scored bonus points in 13 of their 21 victories (18.5 bonus points) during the first three sessions. In the quarterfinals, Retherford tallied a pin and Nolf, Nickal and McIntosh notched major decisions to propel the Lions into the fourth session.

Thanks to the 5.0 bonus points in the morning session, the Nittany Lions extended their lead in the team standings to 14.5 points over Ohio State. Penn State owns a 21-7 overall record in the tournament will take a 68.5-54.0 lead into the evening session on Friday. Penn State has five wrestlers in the semifinals, while second-place Ohio State has four.

In total, six Nittany Lions remain alive in the draws. Jordan Conaway (133) will each wrestle in consolation action on Friday night.

Session III Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Penn State - 68.5 (5 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
2. Ohio State - 54.0 (4 Main Draw, 1 Consolation)
3. Iowa - 48.5 (4 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
4. Oklahoma State - 46.0 (3 Main Draw, 5 Consolation)

11795704.jpegWith All-America status on the line in the quarterfinals, Friday's morning session tends to be one of the most intense sessions of the weekend. Additionally, each win in the quarters adds 7.0 points in the team scoring, placing a big emphasis on results during the morning.

All that being said, Penn State rose to the occasion in a big way inside MSG on Friday morning. Megaludis has been a standout leadoff man during his four years in a Penn State singlet. His efforts in a dominant 4-0 decision against Michigan's Connor Youtsey added another chapter to that leadoff legacy.

Megaludis became Penn State's ninth four-time All-American with the victory, and the Murraysville native will be making his fourth appearance in the NCAA semifinals on Friday.

Following an 8-4 setback by Jordan Conaway in his quarterfinal tilt against fourth-seeded Cody Brewer at 133 pounds, Retherford stepped onto the mat as the next Nittany Lion looking to earn a spot in the semifinals. Continuing a string of dominant performances, Retherford took a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period before turning Central Michigan's Justin Oliver for a pin at the 2:12 mark.

Retherford now has two pins and a technical fall in his three matches at the national tournament. He is a two-time All-American.

"I'm having a lot of fun out there," Retherford said. "I've been waiting for this for two years. It's been a long time, so I'm going to just enjoy it."

Retherford has made things look easy on the mats inside MSG. And you won't find a guy who is enjoying the experience more than him.

"As you advance in the tournament, you tend to get looser out there," said Retherford. "The first match, you just get those jitters out of the way and then go out and wrestle. I think if you start letting yourself get too intense, you start getting tired. If you let yourself get too emotional, things get to you. If you get taken down, you just keep wrestling. I'm just focused on scoring points."

Nolf and Nickal followed suit with a pair of major decision victories in their two quarterfinal bouts. The redshirt freshman duo will be in the NCAA semis for the first time in their careers. Nolf scored an 11-3 victory over Joseph Smith from Oklahoma State, while Nickal topped Oklahoma State's Chandler Rogers by a count of 15-4.

"Being a senior, it's really fun to see all those young guys doing so well," said McIntosh. "The guys are wrestling really well. I think tonight is going to be a lot of fun to watch. This team is just having a lot of fun right now."

McIntosh earned All-America status for the third time in his Penn State career after tallying a 16-4 major decision against Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker on Friday. The California native is thrilled to be in the position that he is in right now, and he's wrestling as well as he ever has for the Blue and White.

"I couldn't ask for a better place to be in than right here," McIntosh said. "It's a lot of fun. It's a great crowd out there. The atmosphere is awesome. You wrestle tough opponents. Every match is a ton of fun. I'm very grateful to be here. We've got a lot of momentum heading into these semis."

The brackets have been trimmed down to four in the main draw, and a total of 12 grapplers remain at each weight class. The stage is set for a thrilling night of NCAA semifinal matches in The World's Most Famous Arena.

Session four of the NCAA Championships begins at 7 p.m. on Friday (ESPN and There will be six mats on the floor of MSG, with the semifinal bouts taking place on the middle two mats and consolation bouts filling the outer four mats. Five Nittany Lions will kick things off with semifinals matches at the beginning of the morning session. There will be two rounds of consolation action on the outer mats. Stay tuned for much more from Madison Square Garden.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (30-3) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 15 David Terao (American)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (28-6) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Fourth Round vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (32-0) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 5 Alec Pantaleo (Michigan)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (32-1) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 15 Chad Walsh (Rider)

165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (32-1) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 12 Nathan Jackson (Indiana)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (31-0) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 4 Nathan Burak (Iowa)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago