Minnesota falls to No.3 Penn State
Barely 72 hours after returning home from one of the most demanding in-season tournaments in college wrestling, the Gophers (3-2, 2-1) fought not only fatigue, but a top-tier opponent, on Friday night at the Sports Pavilion and fell to Penn State (5-0, 1-0), 33-6. The loss snaps a 13-match unbeaten streak Minnesota had held against Penn State.
“We knew this was going to be a challenge coming off the quick turnaround following the Scuffle and wrestling a great team like Penn State,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “It was hard for our guys and I thought you could see it. We talked to the guys about how you’re never going to feel 100 percent and you have to find a way to overcome that. We’ll learn from this experience and we’ll be better at the end of the year because of it.”
Minnesota picked up a pair of wins in the team’s Big Ten home opener, starting with No. 2 Brett Pfarr at 197 pounds. Pfarr added another ranked win to his resume with a 3-2 decision over No. 11 Matt McCutcheon. Pfarr drove a majority of the action in the contest, narrowly missing on several takedowns when McCutcheon managed to keep Pfarr’s ankle to prevent the official from awarding two points. McCutcheon’s defense kept the match tight until the very end but, ultimately, Pfarr added his sixth ranked win of the season. Since bumping up to 197 pounds last year, Pfarr is 21-5 against ranked opponents.
No. 16 Mitch McKee provided the other Gopher victory, a hard-fought 2-1 decision over George Carpenter. McKee picked up the match’s only takedown in the first period, bringing Carpenter to the mat and riding him out.
The Gophers found themselves in an early hole after consecutive pins to open the dual. Top-ranked Zain Retherford earned a fall late in the first period over Carson Brolsma at 149 pounds, followed by fellow No. 1 Jason Nolf pinning No. 9 Jake Short early in the second period of their match at 157.
No. 14 Nick Wanzek, in his first dual match at 165 pounds this season, needed a few moments to compose himself in the first period after appearing to tweak something in his leg, but rallied to test No. 5 Vincenzo Joseph, who picked up a third-period takedown to knock off Wanzek, 7-4. In the following match, Chris Pfarr gave Geno Morelli a test as well but, as was the case in the previous match, a final period takedown help Morelli secure a 5-2 decision.
A fall at 184 pounds, with No. 2 Bo Nickal pinning Bobby Steveson, wrapped up the first half.
In the second half, outside of the Gophers wins, Penn State picked up three tightly contested victories. After No. 5 Nick Nevills took a 4-0 decision over No. 8 Michael Kroells, the night’s featured contest at 125 pounds took center stage. After surrendering several first period takedowns to No. 3 Nick Suriano, sixth-ranked Ethan Lizak rallied and took control of his first dual match of the season. However, the early deficit proved too much to overcome and Lizak lost for just the second time this year in an 8-6 decision.
Following McKee’s win, the dual wrapped up with No. 9 Tommy Thorn making his 2016-17 dual debut against No. 12 Jimmy Gulibon. Thorn trailed 4-3 with a minute remaining but held a riding time advantage significant enough to score the riding time point, meaning the match was effectively tied. In a late exchange, Gulibon was awarded a controversial takedown and worked off the riding time advantage, giving him a 6-3 win.
The Gophers get a welcomed break to rest before returning to the mat next Sunday, when Minnesota hosts Wisconsin at the Sports Pavilion. Prior to that match, the Gophers will host the first of the team’s two annual youth clinics, with sessions at 10 and 11 a.m. prior to the 1 p.m. dual. There are still a few spaces left for wrestlers in eighth grade or younger. To register, visit MyGopherSports.com.
#2 Penn State 33 #13 Minnesota 6
149 #1 Zain Retherford (Penn State) fall Carson Brolsma (Minnesota) 2:28
157 #1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) fall #9 Jake Short (Minnesota) 3:44
165 #5 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) dec. #14 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota) 7-4
174 Geno Morelli (Penn State) dec. Chris Pfarr (Minnesota) 5-2
184 #2 Bo Nickal (Penn State) fall Bobby Steveson (Minnesota) 2:36
197 #2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. #11 Matt McCutcheon (Penn State) 3-2
285 #5 Nick Nevills (Penn State) dec. #8 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) 4-0
125 #3 Nick Suriano (Penn State) dec. #6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 8-6
133 #16 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) dec. George Carpenter (Penn State) 2-1
141 #12 Jimmy Gulibon (Penn State) dec. #9 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) 6-3