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Nittany Lions Primed for BJC Dual

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11553695.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Brighter lights and bigger crowds will welcome the Penn State wrestlers as just for the third time ever, the Nittany Lions will head across campus as they host the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers in the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday.

While a venue like this is not out of the ordinary, it is certainly a different feeling than wrestling at Rec Hall. After the first BJC match against Pittsburgh back in 2013, head coach Cael Sanderson had to work out some of the kinks and now, by year three, thinks all the necessary adjustments have been made in order to have the event run smoother than ever.

"After the first year, there were some issues seeing the clocks and the riding time," said Sanderson. "There were certain parts of the arena that they couldn't see some of the necessities there. I think last year, we made adjustments."

Sanderson is excited about the atmosphere in the building, citing how a majority of the matches against the Panthers came down to the end, which really energized the crowd.

Coming into this weekend where Sanderson will have a few freshmen in the starting lineup, the seventh year coach hasn't changed anything in practice this week and says how the team is used to atmospheres like the one they are going to face on Sunday.

"We haven't talked too much about it. It's much different for us," said Sanderson. "It is our home turf, but for some of these guys, it's their first time wrestling over there, but some of our freshmen have only wrestled [at Rec Hall] once here too so they don't know any different."

For veterans like red-shirt senior Nico Megaludis, Sunday's match is a great precursor for the bigger tournaments later in the season, as the environment and atmosphere is similar to the one that will be at the Jordan Center Sunday.

"BJC is awesome. You have 15,000 people and it's kind of like the National tournament setting, so you get out there on the big stage and I always think that's pretty cool," said Megaludis. "We always have good teams there, so it's always a big match and pretty cool to wrestle in front of people who get to come who don't have the chance to go to Rec Hall."

Megaludis also likes the event because it allows fans who don't have the ability to come to Rec Hall due to the limited seating capacity a chance to watch the team wrestle in person. Megaludis, who will have some family and friends in attendance Sunday, is not concerned that the stage will be too big for some of the freshmen that are experiencing this environment for the first time.

"You see our freshmen. They are all mature and they expect to win," said Megaludis. "I don't think anything phases them. They are pretty mature freshman."

For freshman Bo Nickal, this Sunday's match wont be the first time he has experienced a wrestling match in the BJC. Last year, Nickal had a front row seat during his redshirt season and praises the atmosphere as one of the coolest he's ever seen.

"It was awesome. It was the coolest thing ever," said Nickal. "The lights were going and it was one of the coolest atmospheres I have ever seen for a wrestling match or any sporting event."

Going into this weekend, Nickal is taking this match like he would any other one and going about his normal routine. The Allen, Texas native cites how hosting matches at venues like these is a testimate to the fans and the passion they bring to each match.

"It's definitely awesome to have such a knowledgeable fan base. It's cool to see the different generations of people that are Penn State wresting fans," said Nickal. "Definitely the support and the understanding that comes from them is huge for us with home matches and it's something that I love to compete in front of a crowd and it's awesome to hear them cheer."

Back in high school, Nickal talked about how wrestling was that as popular and would get minimal crowds for a home match. He estimated the biggest crowd he ever wrestled in front of was about 2,000 people at the state tournament. One of the biggest attractions in coming to Penn State was the overall fan base and how excited they were about the program.

Looking towards the match against Wisconsin, a different venue can unsettle some wrestlers who like to stay in a strict routine. For Nickal, being at the match last year and seeing some of the subtle differences compared to a match at Rec Hall allows him to know what to expect and not be surprised by any of the extra fanfare.

"I feel like it's definitely good to have some knowledge prior to the actual event happening of how things are going to work, so that definitely plays to my advantage," said Nickal. "I noticed last year when there would be a big takedown or a big turn, the lights were flashing and I thought that was really cool, but it's good to be aware of that prior to the actual event and I think that's going to help a lot."

Fans may purchase singles to Penn State's two BJC Duals (Wisconsin on 12/13 and Ohio State on 2/5) online at www.GoPSUsports.com/accountmanager or by calling 1-800-NITTANY. BJC Dual public tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for youth (12-and-under). Group tickets for the BJC Duals are now available as well, allowing fans to purchase 20 or more tickets at only $8 per ticket.

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Zain Retherford (12/8/15)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (4-0) returns to action on Sunday inside the Bryce Jordan Center for the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions will wrestle on the stage in the BJC twice this season. GoPSUsports.com talked with sophomore Zain Retherford about the season thus far the opportunity to wrestle in front a big crowd.

BJC Dual public tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for youth (12-and-under). Group tickets for the BJC Duals are now available as well, allowing fans to purchase 20 or more tickets at only $8 per ticket. Group tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-NITTANY.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

NLO Provides Chance to Wrestle Unfamiliar Opponents

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11546330.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For wrestlers that aren't in the starting lineup, practice can become a grind when competing against the same teammates day in and day out without a match day to look forward to.

For a trio of Penn State veterans, the Nittany Lion Open provided an opportunity to wrestle against someone that's not in a Penn State singlet.

Zack Beitz, Kade Moss and Cody Law were all starters at one point last season. This season has been an adjustment for the three wrestlers, as Sunday was their first chance this season to wrestle against another opponent.


"It feels bizarre," said Law. "My teammates are very good so wrestling guys who aren't them is nice."

"It's fun. It's a lot of fun coming out and actually wrestling different competition instead of just wrestling the guys in the wrestling room, so it's nice to wrestle someone else," said Beitz.

Making the adjustment from the starting role to a reserve can be tough, but Moss did not change his mindset and prepares like he is a starter at all times.

"As far as training and everything goes, it's all the same. It's about being prepared all the time so we don't have to get prepared when the time comes, so I'm always ready to go and step in and help the team," said Moss. "In the room, I'm doing the best I can to go hard everyday and push myself and push my teammates and win a national title as a team."

Moss went 17-17 in his first season last year as he wrestled at 141. Although the goal of every wrestler is to win, Moss was hoping to walk out of the Nittany Lion Open knowing he wrestled to the best of his ability.

"I'm always working on things and seeing what works best for me, but obviously success for me today is just knowing that I gave it everything I had," said Moss. "So regardless of where I end up, I can walk off knowing I wrestled as hard as I could."

Moss finished the tournament with a 6-1 record on the day, including registering four pins and a technical fall. The sophomore finished fifth overall at 141.

For Law, his goal of the day was to win the 165-weight class. The sophomore finished fifth after tallying two tech falls and a major decision. While winning was the ultimate, Law was just trying to wrestle the best he could for the full seven minutes and was happy how he started the day, registering 45 points through his first two matches.

Echoing both Moss and Law, Beitz, who qualified for Nationals last season, prepares each day like a starter and approaches each match the same way. That mindset hasn't changed since he stepped on campus and similar to the other two wrestlers, the junior was using Sunday's tournament to wrestle the best he could and let the results take care of themselves.

"I want to take one match at a time and I just want to wrestle the best match that I can so just making sure I go out there and wrestling my best match," said Beitz.

Overall, 302 wrestlers participated in this year's Nittany Lion Open as Penn State had 26 wrestlers competing, some of whom wrestled unattached. In the end, Nittany Lion wrestlers captured seven of the 10 championships.

Most importantly, the Open provided an opportunity to experience a tournament setting early on in the season, which helps prepare the team for the bigger tournaments later on in the season.

"It's good to get these matches in and go through a long tournament," said Moss. "It's a marathon and it's good to feel that before a big tournament's like the Southern Scuffle, Big Ten's and Nationals."

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Cael Sanderson (12/1/15)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (4-0) returns to action on Sunday at the Nittany Lion Open following a pair of victories on the West Coast. GoPSUsports.com caught up with head coach Cael Sanderson to look back at the victories in California, in addition to what's ahead for the team, including the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin in the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 13.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unwavering support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

McIntosh Excited to Return to California

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11502942.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Returning back to his or her home state to compete is always an exciting moment for any athlete. For the first time since high school, redshirt senior Morgan McIntosh is heading back to California for a competition as the No.1-ranked Nittany Lions take on CSU Bakersfield and Stanford this weekend.

McIntosh hails from Santa Ana and is looking forward to this trip to the West Coast. This trip has been in the works for years as when recruiting McIntosh to come to Penn State, head coach Cael Sanderson told the senior that they would hope to visit California and wrestle at some point in his career.

"It's awesome and I'm really grateful that the coaches were able to put it together," said McIntosh. "I'm happy that he was finally able to put it together and work together with the Bakersfield and Stanford coaches to put this together."

These two matches also give McIntosh's family and friends a rare chance to watch him wrestle, some of whom haven't seen him wrestle in years. While the trip is a nice homecoming for the Santa Ana native, it is also a chance to show everyone back home what he's learned during his years as a Nittany Lion.

"I've had a great experience here and I would never take anything back. I love it here, but I also love California too so it's nice to be able to take what I've learned here and bring it to California," said McIntosh.

This also is a great opportunity for other members of the team to go out west, as many of the wrestlers have never been to California. McIntosh cited how everyone is excited to get out there and see what California is like.

"I know everyone is excited to get out to California," said McIntosh. "I know a lot of the guys have never been to California, so that will be a little bit of a different experience for them."

One concern about the trip is the long distance travel. Traveling across the country can pose challenges for wrestlers trying to keep with their routine, but McIntosh explains how this trip is no different than any other one.

"They have all been wrestling for a long time and they know what it's like to travel long distance and have to wrestle the next day, so they are prepared for it; but also everyone on the team is excited to see what California has got," said McIntosh.

Aside from seeing his friends and family, the senior is also excited to reunite with a lot of his friends that wrestle at Bakersfield. The No. 1-ranked 197-pounder has a lot of close friends that he's known his entire wrestling career and can't wait to catch up with them.

"The Hammond's are a close family friend that I've known for a long time, so that will be cool to see them and wrestle against my friends team," said McIntosh. "They are really pumped for this match too."

The Nittany Lions will take on CSU Bakersfield Friday night and compete against Stanford on Sunday before returning back to State College.  

VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Morgan McIntosh (11/18/15)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a pair of victories during the opening weekend of the season, the No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team travels to California for duals against CSU-Bakersfield and No. 18 Stanford.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with senior and No. 1-ranked Morgan McIntosh (197 Pounds) leading up to the trip. McIntosh is a California native hailing from Santa Ana and is thrilled to be heading back to his home state for competition.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Freshmen Lead the Way in Shutout Over Lock Haven

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11488835.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a capacity crowd filled Rec Hall for the start of the 2015-16 wrestling season, there was an anxious buzz surrounding the match as this was the first time the fans were getting a glimpse at some of the highly touted freshman wrestlers making their debuts.

Getting their very first collegiate wrestling experience, the freshmen for Penn State capitalized on their opportunity. The Nittany Lions ran out four wrestlers making their collegiate wrestling debut, which was just one of many story lines in the No. 1 Nittany Lions' 50-0 shutout against Lock Haven Friday night.


"I'm excited. When you have freshmen coming out and wrestling as aggressively and confidently as these guys did, that feels pretty good," said head coach Cael Sanderson.

Jason Nolf was the first freshman to trot out on the mat for the Blue and White and right away, showed his aggressive style that Sanderson alluded to, pinning his opponent with 18 seconds left in the first period.

"I could feel the energy and it started to sink it when I was warming up," said Nolf. "I could feel my heart beating really hard, but it wasn't nervousness. It was energy. I had fun and felt the energy of the crowd."

Sanderson was impressed with the way Nolf came out and dominated, and said a message that can be said for Nolf as well as the rest of the first year grapplers on his squad.

"You watch [Nolf] and you are glad that you still have four more years with this guy," said Sanderson. "He scores points and is fun to watch."

Shakur Rasheed's debut was cut short as after recording a takedown in the first period against Dillon Gavlock, Gavlock suffered an injury and could not wrestle the rest of the match, giving Rasheed an injury default victory.

The third Nittany Lion freshman in a row, Bo Nickal, continued to wrestle the aggressive style that was the theme of the match for Penn State. Nickal, en route to a tech fall victory, tallied eight takedowns, part of an effort that saw the No. 1-ranked squad record 36 takedowns to the lone one for the Bald Eagles.

With the match securely in hand, nearly every individual in the 6,356-sellout crowd stayed to watch the final and arguably the most anticipated match of the night. Newcomer and heavy weight Jan Johnson, who was a member of the football team until a few weeks ago, received a standing ovation when he was announced.

Johnson, a two time Pennsylvania high school state champion, was not only transitioning from football to wrestling, but also making a weight change as well, bumping up to the heavyweight role.   

"It's a lot different and the weight is a little bit different," said Johnson. "At first, I noticed it a little bit, but as the match went on, I couldn't tell as much and I felt that I could wrestle how I wanted to and that I had control of the pace."

Johnson took on Brad Emerick, who had 40 pounds on the freshman, which did not seem to faze the Mohnton, Pa. native. Johnson notched a second period takedown, sending the already raucous crowd into a frenzy and making Rec Hall the loudest it's was all night. Johnson outlasted Emerick to record a 3-2 victory to cap off the perfect 4-0 record for the Nittany Lion freshmen.

Also returning to the lineup was Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford, who after sitting out a redshirt year, rang in their seasons with a bang. Megaludis, in his usual 125-pound weight class, set the tone early on for the Nittany Lions, recording seven takedowns and pinned Jake Field at the 6:07 mark.


"I was just thinking how nice it was to have Nico [Megaludis] back," said Sanderson. "He's so consistent and really sets the pace for the team and he has done that for three years. It's very nice to have him back to set that pace and get the brand rolling."

Retherford, who bumped up a weight class to 149-pounds this season, showed he was ready for the new challenge and continued the dominance Penn State showed all night. The sophomore took down Cody Wheeler right away and did not waste anytime getting the win, pinning Wheeler 2:15 into the first period.

Bonus points were also a huge key in the victory for Sanderson's squad, as the Nittany Lions tallied bonus points in eight of the ten matches. Notching four pins and two tech falls, the Blue and White totaled 20 bonus points on the night. It's that kind of style that Sanderson says makes watching this team fun to watch and keeps the fans wanting more.


VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Highlights & Interviews vs. Lock Haven

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind four pins and two technical falls, the No. 1 Nittany Lion wrestling team shut out intra-state foe Lock Haven, 50-0, before a packed house in Rec Hall on Friday night.

Senior Nico Megaludis kicked off his return to the mat with a pin at 125 pounds. Sophomore Zain Retherford (149), freshman Jason Nolf (157) and sophomore Matt McCutcheon (184) followed suit with pins of their own. In total, eight Nittany Lions earned bonus points in the opening match of the season. True freshman Jan Johnson put an exclamation point on the shutout with a gritty 3-2 victory at heavyweight in his first match with the team after making the transition from the football team to the wrestling squad two weeks ago.

See highlights, including all four pins and hear from head coach Cael Sanderson, Johnson and Nolf following the season-opening victory. The Lions travel to No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sunday.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lion Wrestlers Set for Season Opener

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11476355.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just two days away from the opening match of the season against Lock Haven, the No. 1-ranked Penn State wrestling team hosted its annual media day at Rec Hall on Wednesday.

"We are excited the season is starting," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "We've got an exciting team. We have some kids that are excited to get out there and compete."

The Nittany Lions enter the 2015-16 season with nine wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes. Senior Morgan McIntosh leads the way as he is ranked No. 1 in the 197-pound weight class. Nico Megaludis (125 Pounds), Jimmy Gulibon (141 Pounds) and Zain Retherford (149 Pounds) all are ranked No. 2.  Jason Nolf (No. 6 at 157 Pounds), Jordan Conaway (No. 8 at 133 Pounds), Garett Hammond (No. 14 at 165 Pounds), Bo Nickal (No. 14 at 174 Pounds) and Matt McCutcheon (No. 14 at 184 Pounds) round out the ranked Nittany Lion wrestlers in the probably starting lineup. 

With the return of Retherford and Megaludis to the lineup, Sanderson made a few tweaks at the lighter weights classes to best serve the team. Megaludis returns from a redshirt season to his usual 125-weight class, bumping Conaway to the 133-division.  Gulibon jumped up to 141 and Retherford will wrestle at the 149-pound division.

For Retherford, the transition up a weight class will come with great confidence, as he is ready to start the season and accept the new challenges.

"I knew I was going 149 since the summer, so I kind of wrapped my mind around it for a while now, but I am excited about it," said Retherford. "The guys might be a little bigger and a little taller, but I'm excited."

For Conaway, he already has wrestled at the 133 division before and says how that experience has benefitted him when it came to making the switch to that weight class again this season.

"I definitely feel that I am stronger when compared to when I wrestled at 133 a couple of years ago," said Conaway. "I am just a little more mature for the weight class compared to a couple of years ago."

Sunday's match against No. 7 Virginia Tech poses a early season challenge for the Nittany Lions, but many of the wrestlers are looking forward to the experience as it prepares them for what's to come both in the regular and post season.

"Lock Haven is going to be a good test, but I'm excited to travel. First home match is going to be a lot of fun, but it's different to travel and wrestle after a Friday match and have to make weight again Sunday," said Retherford. "You get exposure to different things you are going to see later on in the season."

"That will be a real good test for us," said Megaludis. "I think their whole lineup is pretty stacked, so that will be a good test for all of our guys to go out there and fight."

The Nittany Lions open the season Friday with a match against Lock Haven at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. Penn State then hits the road for a Sunday match against the seventh-ranked Hokies, which is slated for a 1 p.m. start. 


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