The undefeated defending national champion Nittany Lions top the NWCA poll again for the tenth time this season, moving to a 6-0 record with wins over Northwestern and No. 10 Wisconsin.
Three of Penn State’s four No. 1 ranked wrestlers, Jason Nolf, Mark Hall and Bo Nickal, combined for a total of 27 team points over the weekend, with No. 1 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph sitting out of both matches. Despite an early scare against the Badgers after upset losses from No. 10 Brady Berge and No. 6 Nick Lee, Penn State rallied to secure a 51st consecutive dual meet win and stay atop the rankings yet again.
Rewind back to today's 24-13 victory in Rec Hall vs Wisconsin! pic.twitter.com/DLhhmxGufY— Penn State WRESTLING (@pennstateWREST) January 14, 2019
Here are some of the highlights from this week's top 25 ranking:
The weekend also showcased a series of high-profile matches that resulted in emotional victories and impacted team standings. In a dual that featured 12 ranked wrestlers, No. 3 Oklahoma State took down then-No. 24 Rutgers 26-5 but the day did included a controversial headline win from No. 4 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) over No. 2 Nick Suriano (Rutgers) in the 133-lbs. bout. The match — which lasted over 30 minutes due to challenges, replays and extra time — ultimately ended after an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Surino for “hands to the face.” Fix and Surino could have the chance to meet again in March, but for now, the Cowboys and Fix walked away with the win. Rutgers moved up four spots in the poll with a win over Wisconsin the same weekend.
In the same dual against Oklahoma State, 149-pound two-time All-American Anthony Ashnault took down Oklahoma State's Kaden Gfeller in a tense battle for the Scarlet Knights. Ashnault remains in contention to be the top athlete in this weight class, but he no doubt gave Gfeller motivation for the rest of his dual season. Also in the 149-pound weight class, current national leader Matthew Kolodzik beat North Carolina's Austin O'Connor, scoring some of the points that helped Princeton take down the then-No. 15 Tar Heels. North Carolina dropped from 15 to 17 as a result of the loss. Kolodzik also beat Gfeller in Princeton's dual with Oklahoma State this weekend.
Another big headline from the weekend's duals came from Iowa's No. 8 Austin DeSanto, who scored a big win over Minnesota's No. 9 Ethan Lizak. DeSanto's proved once again that he has the grit and talent to be a threat in his weight class. DeSanto and Lizak will likely face each other again in the Big Ten tournament, giving Lizak an opportunity to improve his national ranking before the NCAA Championships.
These chippy duals emphasized the significance of the second half of the wrestling season as teams start to move through the remaining duals and prep for conference tournaments.
Last week, the top 11 stayed unchanged, but in this week’s poll, a little more shakeup occurred among top teams.
Here's what you need to know:
Nebraska jumped Wisconsin after the Badgers lost to Penn State and the Huskers pulled out a victory against Northern Iowa. Cornell also stayed ahead of Wisconsin, despite a loss to Lehigh. Though the Badgers went 0-2 on the weekend, they're still a team to watch in upcoming Big Ten duals. Head coach Chris Bono led the Badgers to score 13 points against top team in the country with one of his best wrestlers, No. 10 Ryan Christensen, out with injury. If Christensen can make his way back to full health, Wisconsin could be a team to watch come March.
One of the eight undefeated teams remaining in the top 25, Pittsburgh made a leap from 18 to 14 for the Panthers earned two wins this weekend over North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
Stanford claimed the final spot in the poll after receiving nine votes last week.
Here's the complete Top 25 rankings:
|1||Penn State (16)||6-0||400||1|