CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team (5-0, 1-0 B1G) rolled through the finals of the 2018 Southern Scuffle, crowning six champions, to win the team title with 197.0 points. Penn State’s title was its seventh in its last seven trips as the Nittany Lions won six straight before not participating in last year’s event.
The Lions crowned champions at six champions, going 6-1 in the finals. Penn State also claimed top two team awards, Most Pins in Least Time and Outstanding Wrestler. Northern Iowa took second with 127.0 and Lehigh was third with 102.0.
Senior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 149, continued his Scuffle pin parade by taking care of No. 19 Sam Krivus of Virginia. Retherford opened up an early lead and then turned the Cavalier for his third pin in four Scuffle wins, this one coming at the 1:53 mark. Retherford’s semi win moved him into the finals where met Campbell’s Josh Heil. Retherford completed a superb tournament and clinched his third Southern Scuffle crown with a fall at the 4:39 mark, wrapping up a 5-0 tournament with four pins and a tech fall. He leaves Chattanooga with a 14-0 record, including 11 pins.
Junior Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 157, dazzled the Scuffle crowd with a semifinal pin over Stanford’s Paul Fox, using his legs to take him to his back, adjusting once and getting the pin at the 3:42 mark, it was his third pin in four bouts with the fourth being a forfeit victory. Nolf met No. 10 Mitch Finesilver of Duke in the finals and ended the bout quickly. The Lion earned his second Scuffle title by hitting a fast headlock and pinning Finesilver at the 0:51 mark. Nolf went 5-0 with four pins and a forfeit victory to earn the title. He is now 14-0 with 12 pins. Nolf’s performance garnered him the Most Pins in Least Time Award.
Sophomore Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 165, dominated No. 19 Gordon Wolf of Lehigh in the semifinals, using a bevy of turns to post a 19-3 technical fall at the 5:53 mark. Joseph’s strong win moved him into the finals, where he took on second seeded Bryce Steiert of Northern Iowa. Joseph rolled his way to an 8-0 major decision, using a strong full ride and back points in the third period to clinch the win. The victory gave Joseph his first Scuffle crown as the Lion went 5-0 with a pin, two techs and a major. Joseph heads back to Happy Valley with a 9-0 record.
Sophomore Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), ranked No. 2 at 174, moved into the finals with a strong 4-0 win over No. 8 Jadaen Bernstein of Navy in the semis, using a second period rideout and a late takedown to post the win. Hal then dominated No. 5 Jordan Kutler of Lehigh in the finals, rolling up 2:31 in riding time and posting a 4-0 win. The victory gave Hall his second straight Scuffle crown as he went 5-0 with two pins and major this time around. Hall leaves Chattanooga with a 15-0 record with 7 pins.
Junior Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), ranked No. 1 at 184, put on a takedown flurry in the third period of his 12-4 major of North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan in the semis. The late surge moved the Nittany Lion junior into the finals on the back of three pins and a major. He then capped off a perfect Scuffle run with a dominant 10-2 major over No. 10 Drew Foster of Northern Iowa in the finals, including 1:36 in riding time. Nickal went 5-0 with three pins and two majors. He leaves Chattanooga with a 14-0 mark including eight pins.
Junior Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.), making a splash at 197 for Penn State, continued to dominate a ranked field. The Nittany Lion became Penn State’s seventh finalist by pinning No. 14 Matt Williams of CSU Bakersfield in just 0:41. The victory was his third straight over a ranked foe and sent Rasheed to the finals with four wins (two pins, two majors). He met Holschlag in the finals and made it three straight quick cradles. Rasheed caught Holschlag and pinned him at the 0:46 mark to earn his first Scuffle title and end his tournament with a 5-0 mark, including three pins (all in under a minute) and two majors. Rasheed improved his overall mark to 12-2 over the weekend with nine pins. Rasheed was honored as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler as well.
True freshman Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.), wrestling unattached at 141, took on No. 7 Josh Alber of Northern Iowa in the semifinals. Lee brought the Scuffle crowd to its feet by pinning Alber late in the bout. Lee, leading 5-4 in the final seconds, was not content with a decision and used a power throw to toss Alber to his back and get the fall at the 6:51 mark. The win moved the Lion into the finals where he met Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller in the finals and led 7-4 midway through the second when he got caught and reversed. Gfeller then turned Lee to his back and worked for over a minute before getting the pin at the 4:50 mark. Lee’s outstanding 4-1 run and Scuffle runner-up finish included two pins, a tech and a major. The true freshman is now 14-3 as an unattached grappler.
Sophomore Anthony Cassar (Rocky Hill, N.J.), ranked No. 9 at 197, appeared to have a win and a trip to the finals in hand with a late takedown of Northern Iowa’s Jacob Holschlag. But the officials decided to undo the takedown, erasing Cassar’s 7-4 win and send the bout to overtime where Holschlag countered a Cassar shot for a 6-4 (sv) win. Cassar rebounded with a 9-7 (sv) win over No. 15 Scottie Boykin of Chattanooga in the conso semis and then beat Stephen Loiseau of Drexel for the second time in the tournament, 4-1, for third place. Cassar’s 4-1 performance has him leaving the Scuffle with a 12-2 record.
Junior Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), ranked No. 3 at 285, opened up day two with a major decision in his first consolation bout and then received a medical forfeit win in the conso quarterfinals. Nevills downed No. 7 Mike Hughes of Hofstra in the consolation semifinals but finished fourth after dropping a 2-0 decision to No. 11 Nathan Butler in the third place match. Nevills went 5-2 at this year’s Scuffle and leaves Chattanooga with a 15-2 overall mark.
Senior Corey Keener (Schuylkill Haven, Pa.), ranked No. 18 at 133, lost his only match of the day, a 7-0 decision to CSU Bakersfield’s Sean Nickell. Keener ended his tournament with a 3-2 record, with all three victories coming by major decisions. Keener leaves the Scuffle with a 9-2 overall record, taking his first losses as a Nittany Lion here in Chattanooga.
True freshman Jarod Verkleeren (Greensburg, Pa.), wrestling unattached at 149, rebounded from a quarterfinal loss last night to win his first consolation bout and move into the conso quarters. He took on No. 6 Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa and led late before dropping a hard fought 5-3 decision. He downed Chattanooga’s Roman Boylan 2-1 in the seventh place bout, going 4-2 in his first Scuffle.
Seven Nittany Lions concluded action yesterday on day one. Redshirt freshman Devin Schnupp (Lititz, Pa.) went 0-2 at 125. Junior George Carpenter (Chapel Hill, N.C.) went 1-2 at 133. Junior Jered Cortez (Carol Stream, Ill.), ranked No. 15 at 141, went 3-0 but was injured at the end of his third win of the tournament and did not continue. He leaves Chattanooga with an 11-1 overall record. Redshirt freshman Bo Pipher (Paonia, Colo.) went 0-2 at 149. Sophomore Francisco Bisono (Hauppauge, N.Y.) went 0-2 at 174. Senior Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.) went 1-1 at 197, taking an injury default loss in his second bout and bowing out of the tourney. Redshirt freshman Alex Nicholas (Allentown, Pa.) went 1-2 at 285.
Penn State posted a 56-19 overall record with 22 pins, four techs and 12 majors. Retherford becomes the tenth three-time Scuffle champion and the third Nittany Lion (joining PSU greats Ed Ruth and David Taylor on the illustrious list). Retherford now has 11 pins for the season, 47 for his career (third all-time at Penn State); Nolf has 12 this year and 41 for his career (fourth all-time); Nickal has eight this year and 33 for his career (ninth all-time) and Hall has seven this year and 19 for his career (nearing PSU’s top 20). Rasheed has nine pins this season and 17 for his career as well.
Penn State hits the road for two Big Ten road duals in its next action, visiting Michigan on Friday, Jan. 12, for a 9 p.m. dual and Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 14, for a 1 p.m. tilt. The Nittany Lions’ next home dual is a Big Ten battle against Purdue in Rec Hall on Friday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m.