wrestling-d1 flag

Shannon Scovel | NCAA.com | December 13, 2018

Penn State vs. Arizona State wrestling: 3 key matches to watch

Zahid Valencia and Mark Hall face-off in a dual on Friday

The Penn State Nittany Lions are known for filling their gym to create a great atmosphere for college wrestling On Friday, for the first time, Penn State will welcome Arizona State to this environment for a contest that could feature a preview of a national championship dual. Here are three matches between Penn State and Arizona State featuring ranked opponents that you won’t want to miss. 

149- No. 11 Josh Maruca vs. No. 12 Brady Berge or Jarod Verkleeren

Penn State redshirt freshman Brady Berge boasts an undefeated record and a second-place finish at the Keystone Classic earlier this month, setting him up for the kind of freshman season that he'll need to be a national title contender in March. In his five wins, he’s recorded three tech falls, the most recent coming against Bucknell in late November. Berge holds a No. 12 Intermat ranking, and could face Arizona State's No. 11 Josh Maruca on Friday, but Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson has also been starting redshirt freshman Verkleeren in this position.

If Verkleeren starts, Maruca will face an unranked Penn State wrestler, but one that has proven himself to be a competitor, having placed fourth at the Keystone Classic and built a 6-2 record so far this season. Against Lehigh, Verkleeren wrestled in place of Berge, winning a 5-3 battle with Jimmy Hoffman. Regardless of the Penn State starter in this match, the 149-pound dual will be a battle for a higher spot in the Intermat rankings. 

RELATED: Penn State wrestling looks almost unbeatable. Here are 3 teams that could unseat the champs.

165- No. 5 Josh Shields vs. No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph 

Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph, a two-time NCAA champion who could be in contention for the Hodge Trophy this year, is the clear favorite in the 165-pound weight class nationally, but Friday’s dual will be an opportunity for No. 5 Josh Shields to test himself against the best. The Arizona State redshirt junior recently finished second at SIUE's Cougar Clash, falling only to No. 2 Evan Wick from Wisconsin 5-4. Prior to the SIUE Clash, Shields earned the top spot in the NDSU's Bison Open and has solidified himself as one of the top 165-pounders nationally at this early point in the season.

Shields and Joseph, both Pennsylvania natives, grew up in the competitive wrestling community surrounding Pittsburgh, and this will be a match of grit. Though Joseph is favored and has home mat advantage, a win for Shields would elevate him greatly in the Intermat standings. 

174- No. 1 Zahid Valencia vs. No. 2 Mark Hall

The 174-pound match between Arizona State defending national champion Zahid Valencia and 2017 national champion Mark Hall is the rematch that wrestling fans have been talking about since Valencia took down Hall 8-2 last year in Cleveland. In the three matches they’ve wrestled against each other in their college careers, Valencia has won two, once at nationals and once at the All-Star Classic in 2017. Hall’s lone win against Valencia came in the semifinals of the 2017 national championship his true freshman year, but he’ll be looking for another win on Friday.

Heading into the dual, Valencia holds a 43-match win streak that includes 16 pins, and he also maintains a 79-1 record, with the only loss in his collegiate career coming against Hall in 2017. Hall holds a 70-4 career record, but both he and Valencia have 10 total tech falls and over 25 pins. This is a March-style matchup in December and could offer a preview of what to expect at the national tournament. 

MORE: 5 questions with NCAA wrestling champion Zahid Valencia

Penn State vs. Arizona State wrestling: Preview, how to watch

The No. 1 Nittany Lions are a team worth watching every time they take the mat, and this Friday's dual against No. 10 Arizona State will be of particular interest for fans anxious to see the defending champs take on a ranked opponent. Here's what you need to know about the teams heading into Friday's top-ten matchup. 
READ MORE

College wrestling top-ranked wrestlers in early 2019

It's only November, but the college wrestling season is off a wild start. Seven different teams have No. 1-ranked wrestlers after the the third week of competition. Here's what we know about the No. 1 guys at each weight class right now. 
READ MORE

Here's what we learned from the U23 wrestling world championships

Gabriel Townsell, Chas Tucker, Brady Berge and Chase Singletary returned from the U23 World Championships Budapest last week and will transition into the college folkstyle season with the goal of earning their first All-American honors in March. Chad Porter and Tate Orndorff represented the United States in Greco-Roman and are also set to compete this fall.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners