With an impressive 81 percent majority from the NCAA Wrestling Twitter poll, Anthony Cassar of Penn State was named NCAA Wrestler of the Week. The 197-pound sophomore rightly claimed this award after proving he can handle top competition with a dominant victory over No. 1 Kollin Moore of Ohio State.
With 81% of the votes, Penn State's Anthony Cassar is your NCAA Wrestler of the Week! pic.twitter.com/8gPhjPl5qa— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) February 8, 2018
On Sunday, Penn State fans were unaware of who was going to step up against Moore. Over the last few weeks, they’ve seen coach Cael Sanderson switch between Cassar and No. 10 Shakur Rasheed for the 197-pound spot. Rasheed, however, was reportedly facing an injury before Sunday, giving the unranked Cassar the opportunity to prove his worth against the top-seeded wrestler.
As he stepped up to the mat all eyes, a sold-out 6,699 of them, locked onto Cassar. Anxiety hung in the air as the home crowd hadn’t seen him wrestle since Dec. 17. The first period ended quickly, and scoreless. The second saw more action as Cassar connected with a takedown on a double-leg. Moore managed to match his score before time ran out, ending the period 2-2. At the start of the third, it looked as if things could go either way. Refusing to lose, Cassar broke the tie with an escape. After taking a 3-2 lead, Cassar took hold of the match with his second takedown of the night, adding a bonus point shortly following. Riding out the clock, the crowd erupted as Cassar completed a thrilling upset with a 6-3 decision.
RECAP! Lions roar back to take down Ohio State 19-18 to keep the winning streak alive! Penn State clinches share of B1G Dual Meet Championship, too! Get the recap now folks!! READ IT NOW! https://t.co/9kh2aU6CiE#PSUwr pic.twitter.com/ZbDbXhMYmR— Penn State WRESTLING (@pennstateWREST) February 4, 2018
No. 1 Penn State’s 19-18 dual win over No. 2 Ohio State win would not have been possible without the tremendous effort from Cassar.
Due to a preseason injury, the sophomore standout did not compete in his first season at Penn State. Hailing from Rocky Hill, New Jersey, Cassar’s high school career was different from most. After hitting the switch his senior year and amassing an astounding 45-0 record, Cassar became only the fourth wrestler in New Jersey state history to win a state title after never qualifying for the state tournament. He was also the 2015 Junior National Freestyle Champion and member of the 2015 Junior World Team.
Sunday’s victory over Ohio State proved why Penn State is ranked No. 1 in the country. But with Saturday’s matchup against No. 7 Iowa on the horizon, the top-ranked team must keep its foot on the gas pedal.