Lions swarm Maryland to claim 2017 Big Ten dual championship

Team photo of title team
Credit: Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 1 Penn State (13-0, 9-0) swarmed over Maryland (2-14, 0-9) in the home dual finale for the Nittany Lions. Head coach Cael Sanderson’s squad used five straight pins to post the 45-6 victory over the visiting Terrapins. The win clinched the 2017 Big Ten regular season (dual meet) championship for Penn State, the fourth for the Nittany Lions. Penn State won the regular season title outright.

Penn State’s young line-up won nine of ten bouts in front of a sold out Rec Hall crowd. The crowd of 6,661 marks the 35th straight Rec Hall sell-out and is the highest Rec Hall attendance mark of the year. Penn State has sold out 38 of its last 40 home events, including three of five in the 16,000-seat Bryce Jordan Center. The win was also Penn State’s 30th straight dual meet victory.

The dual began at 125. True freshman Nick Suriano, ranked No. 1 at 125, rolled up 10 takedowns to post a 23-8 technical fall over Michael Beck at the 6:41 mark. Red-shirt freshman Triston Law got the call at 133 but was pinned by Maryland senior Billy Rappo at the 4:445 mark to give the Terrapins a brief 6-5 lead. Senior Jimmy Gulibon, ranked No. 11 at 141 and wrestling in his final Rec Hall dual meet, posted a strong 9-4 decision over Ryan Diehl to put Penn State back on top 8-6.

Junior Zain Retherford, ranked No. 1 at 149, pushed Penn State out to a 14-6 lead by pinning Maryland’s Adam Whitesell at the 3:17 mark. The fall was Retherford’s second of the weekend and 13th of the year. Sophomore Jason Nolf, ranked No. 1 at 157, followed Retherford’s pin up with one of his own. Nolf pinned Maryland’s Adam Whitesell at the 1:37 mark and sent Penn State into the halftime break with a 20-6 lead. The fall was Nolf’s 11th of the year.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph, ranked No. 4 at 165, continued Penn State’s pin parade coming out of the locker room. He pinned Maryland’s Patrick Gerish at the 3:58 mark to put Penn State up 26-6. True freshman Mark Hall, ranked No. 7 at 174, made it four falls in a row, pinning Josh Ugalde at the 1:14 mark to give the Nittany Lions a 32-6 lead.

Sophomore Bo Nickal, ranked No. 2 at 184, kept pace with those in front of him, using a lightning quick throw to pin Idris White at the 2:08 mark, Penn State’s fifth straight fall. The fall was Nickal’s 12th of the year. Junior Matt McCutcheon, ranked No. 9 at 197, picked up a 5-3 decision over David-Brian Whisler to give the Lions a 41-6 lead. Sophomore Nick Nevills, ranked No. 3 at 285, closed out the dual meet with a dominant 10-1 major over Youssif Hemida, controlling the action and finishing with 5:26 in riding time. The victory set the final dual margin at 45-6.

The Nittany Lions continued to dominate their completion, staying unbeaten and winning each dual meet so far by 15 points (26-11 at Iowa) or more. Penn State posted a gaudy a 33-3 takedown margin, including giving up no takedowns in the last two periods. The Nittany Lions picked up 18 bonus points off five pins (Retherford, Nolf, Joseph, Hall, Nickal consecutively), a tech fall (Suriano) and a major (Nevills).

Retherford is 18-0 with 13 pins, a forfeit, two techs and a major. Nolf is 18-0 with 11 pins, a major and five techs. Nickal is 17-0 with 12 pins and three majors this season. The Nittany Lions are now 13-0, 9-0 in the Big Ten, and winners of 30 straight duals. Maryland falls to 2-14, 0-8 in the conference.

The Nittany Lions will now await word of their match-up in the NWCA Dual Championship Series, set for Feb. 19. The top eight Big Ten teams in the final NWCA Coaches Dual Meet Rankings will visit the top eight non-Big Ten teams with the one versus one match-up winner declared the NWCA Dual Meet champion for 2017. Penn State won last year’s NWCA dual crown with a win over Oklahoma State in Rec Hall. The announcement could come as early as today (Feb. 12).