By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sunday's dual against Wisconsin provided the fans
at the Bryce Jordan Center some possible foreshadowing of what they can expect
not just for the rest of this season, but for years to come.
The middle of the Nittany Lion lineup, which featured Kade Moss subbing
in for an injured Jimmy Gulibon followed by Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf gave
the fans excitement and multiple times brought the crowd of over 12,000 to their
feet in applause.
Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson was pleased with the way his team
performed against the 15th-ranked Badgers and thinks the middle of the lineup
can set the tone for the team.
"I think overall, we wrestled pretty well. I think we want to score a
few more points in a couple of those matches and be a little more aggressive,
but overall, our guys wrestled pretty well and some of these guys wrestled
really well," said Sanderson. "The guys that are very consistent, Zain, Nolf
they are definitely setting an example."
Stepping in for the injured Gulibon was Moss, a sophomore, who was the
starter last season at 141 and made his 2015-16 dual debut on the big stage at
"Kade [Moss] did a nice job. He wrestled smart and got a takedown at the
end of the period in a scramble position," said Sanderson. "Kade's a solid
wrestler. He's a guy that we feel good putting him out there."
Moss, who went 17-17 last season, posted a 4-1 victory over the Badgers'
Luke Rowh. Moss, who notched his fourth career Big Ten dual victory, kept the
Penn State momentum flowing and did not allow Wisconsin to get back in the
Retherford entered Sunday on a two-pin win streak and it did not take
long to extend that streak to three. The sophomore, who had four total pins in
his freshman season, has already registered four pins this year and the biggest
difference for that, Retherford thinks, is his mindset.
"I think my freshman year, I was more concerned about riding guys," said
Retherford. "Now I want to turn guys, so I am focusing more now on turning than
just riding and getting that extra point has been a big difference."
The Benton, Pa., native made the transition from 141 to 149 this season,
but he doesn't feel like it's much of an adjustment at this point and is still
cutting weight at a similar rate to when he was wrestling at 141.
Retherford was also awarded the Ridge Riley Award for most outstanding
wrestler of the match, something that he is excited to win.
A redshirt freshman, Nolf followed Retherford's pin with a fall of his
own, which essentially sealed the match and brought the raucous crowd to their
feet. Nolf, who tallied his sixth pin of the season, relies on his early
takedowns to tire his opponent out, which opens up the opportunity for a pin.
"I just want to score a lot of points, so if I wasn't turning him on
top, then I felt that he still had a little energy, so I cut him to take the
energy out of him that comes with my snaps and fakes," said Nolf. "I think he
tried to hang to get a break sometimes, and then I just snap him off, which
makes it a lot easier to get to his legs. I think that definitely helps him get
The lineup that features Retherford and Nolf wrestling back-to-back is
tough for opponents to handle and Sanderson believes the duo can shift matches
with their styles.
"It gets a little hairy there when you get Zain [Retherford] and [Jason]
Nolf back-to-back. We have a pretty good lineup right now," said Sanderson. "We
hope it will be a momentum changer in the future. Those are two guys that are
really going to represent what we want Penn State wrestling to be."
The two aren't just competitive on the mat against opponents, but also
in practice against each other. The two, who according to Nolf were only
supposed to wrestle against each other for five minutes at practice a couple of
weeks ago, ending up battling for almost 20 minutes before a winner could be
determined. This competitive nature between the two helps to get each other wrestling
at their best and get ready for match day.
"Nolf is competitive. It's a competitive environment and we both want to
do our best," said Retherford. "Every match, we are looking to pin guys, so
it's a lot of fun."
"The pace of practice with all of the guys that we have, especially when
I wrestle Zain [Retherford] in practice, it gets interesting because we both
just want to win so bad," said Nolf. "I like the pace."