Nittany Lions Go 8-0 in NCAA Round One

psu-wrestlingST. LOUIS – The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, winner of five of the last six NCAA Championships, posted a perfect first session at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions, under the guidance of head coach Cael Sanderson, rode the opening momentum from senior Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.) to an 8-0 first round and first place in the team standings. All rankings listed are official tournament seeds.

Penn State announced on Wednesday that true freshman Nick Suriano (Paramus, N.J.), the No. 3 seed at 125, would not be able to compete due to an injury (and does not record a loss). Suriano entered the tournament as an at-large bid after taking an injury forfeit at the Big Ten Championships. Suriano ends his season with a 16-3 record (the last two losses by injury default). He was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally before suffering an injury in Penn State’s final dual meet of the season. Suriano’s withdrawal, which does not result in a loss for the freshman, knocked Penn State’s official participants in the tourney down to eight.

Gulibon, a 2015 All-American at 133 and unseeded this year at 141, took on No. 13 Javier Gasca of Michigan State in Penn State’s first bout of the tournament. Gulibon started quickly, taking Gasca down twice in the first period, picking up an escape on an injury restart to lead 5-0 with :58 riding time after the opening period. The Lion senior continued his dominance in the second stanza, adding a takedown and two near fall points to lead 9-0. Looking for bonus points, Gulibon tacked on four bonus points and, with 3:26 in riding time, notched a dominating 18-3 technical fall at the 7:00 mark. The win moves the Lion senior into tonight’s second round where he will meet No. 4 seed Matt Kolodzik of Princeton.

Junior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), two-time All-American and last year’s NCAA Champion at 149, entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed. Retherford took on Arizona State’s Joshua Maruca in the opening round. . Retherford took the Sun Devil down quickly, getting two near fall points in an opening flurry to lead 4-0 out of the gates. Retherford picked up two more takedowns and four near fall points to lead 12-2 after one. Retherford reversed Maruca to start the second period and rolled his way to an 18-2 technical fall at the 4:55 mark. Retherford moves into tonight’s second round where he will meet No. 16 Jordan Laster of Princeton.

Sophomore Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 157 and an NCAA Finalist and All-American last year, took on Thomas Bullard of North Carolina State in the first round. Nolf notched four first period takedowns and picked up a stall point to lead 9-3 after three minutes. He continued his dominance in the second period and led 12-4 heading into the third period. Nolf escaped to start the third and then tacked on a handful of takedowns and, with a ride out and 1:11 in riding time, posted the 22-7 tech fall at the 7:00 mark. Nolf will now meet No. 16 Victor Lopez of Bucknell in tonight’s second round.

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 165, faced off against Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck in the first round. Looking to avenge a loss to Subjeck in Rec Hall in November, Joseph battled Subjeck through a scoreless first period. The Lion freshman chose down to start the second stanza and escaped quickly. He added a late takedown and ride out to lead 3-0 after two periods. Subjeck escaped in the third but Joseph ended the match on top with another takedown and ride out to post the strong 5-1 win. The decision moves Joseph into tonight’s second round where he will meet No. 14 Branson Ashworth of Wyoming.

True freshman Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), the No. 5 seed at 174 and one of two true freshmen in Penn State’s line-up, met David Kocer of South Dakota State in round one Hall notched the first takedown and nearly locked up a cradle in the process but settled for a 2-0 lead. The true freshman then controlled Kocer for the next minute plus to lead 2-1 after one stanza. The second period featured an escape from Hall and Kocer answered with an escape of his own to start the third, setting up a 3-2 score in Hall’s favor with 1:45 left to wrestle. Hall iced the match with a takedown and the :40 mark. He then turned Kocer for two back points, finished on top and tacked on 1:36 in riding time to post a strong 8-2 decision. Hall’s win puts him into the second round against Navy’s Jadaen Bernstein.

Sophomore Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 2 seed at 184 and an NCAA Finalist and All-American at 174 a year ago, took on Mitch Sliga of Northwestern in the first round. Nickal took Sliga down quickly, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first minute. Nickal turned Sliga for four once, then reset and turned him again for four more to lead 10-0, then again for two to lead 12-0 with 2:20 in riding time after one period. Nickal escaped to start the second stanza and then ended the match with a final takedown, posting a 15-0 technical fall at the 3:20 mark. The tech fall, Penn State’s fourth in a quick 6-0 start to the tournament, moves Nickal into the second round against No. 15 Steven Schneider of Binghamton.

Junior Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), the No. 5 seed at 197 and a three-time NCAA qualifier, battled Christian Brunner of Purdue in the opening round. . McCutcheon got in on an early first period single and Brunner forced a scramble in the middle of the mat. The Lion junior worked his way into control, getting Brunner’s back to the mat. McCutcheon worked his ankle free of Brunner’s hold and then forced the Boilermaker flat for a first period pin at the 1:53 mark, Penn State’s first fall of the tournament. The win moves McCutcheon into the second round tonight against No. 12 Frank Mattiace of Penn.

Sophomore Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), the No. 5 seed at 285, took on Lehigh’s Doug Vollaro in the first round. The Lion sophomore battled Vollaro through a scoreless first period and then escaped quickly to start the second period to lead 1-0. Vollaro took Nevills down and the Lion quickly escaped, knotting the score at 2-2 after two periods. Vollaro chose neutral to start the third period and Nevills took advantage. The Lion sophomore got in on a low single, Vollaro tried to counter and Nevills worked his way into control and a 4-2 lead with :40 left. Nevills then broke the Mountain Hawk down and finished on top to post a hard-fought 4-2 win and finish off Penn State’s perfect first round. Nevills will take on No. 12 William Miller of Edinboro in round two tonight.

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Penn State went a perfect 8-0 in session one and picked up critical bonus points in five of its eight wins. The Lions tallied 8.0 bonus points off four technical falls and a pin. All eight Nittany Lions are still alive (after Suriano’s pre-tournament withdrawal) as the Nittany Lions look to win their second straight NCAA title, and sixth in the last seven years. The Nittany Lions lead the team race with 16.0 points, just ahead of second place Oklahoma State’s 15.0.

The 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships continue this evening with session two, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central. Tonight’s session airs live on ESPN. The three day event continues through Saturday night’s NCAA Championship Finals. Friday’s session three begins at 11 a.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Central and airs live on ESPNU; Friday’s session four begins at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central and airs live on ESPN; Saturday’s session five starts at 11 a.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Central and airs live on ESPNU; and Saturday’s session six, the championship finals, begins at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central and airs live on ESPN. ESPN3 will offer live streaming of every single match, on every single mat, throughout the entirety of the tournament.

2017 NCAA Championships – Team Standings (top five) after Session 1:
March 16, 2017 – Scottrade Center – St. Louis, Mo.

1: PENN STATE – 16.0
2: Oklahoma State – 15.0
3: Ohio State – 14.0
4: Iowa – 12.0
4: Lehigh – 12.0
4: Missouri – 12.0

Weight-by-weight agate (rankings listed are official tournament seed)

125: #3 Nick Suriano, Fr. – Did not compete/withdrew

Penn State announced on Wednesday that true freshman Nick Suriano (Paramus, N.J.), the No. 3 seed at 125, would not be able to compete due to an injury (and does not record a loss). Suriano entered the tournament as an at-large bid after taking an injury forfeit at the Big Ten Championships. Suriano ends his season with a 16-3 record (the last two losses by injury default). He was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally before suffering an injury in Penn State’s final dual meet of the season.

141: Jimmy Gulibon, Sr. –

Rd. 1: vs. #13 Javier Gasca, Michigan State – W, 18-3 (TF; 7:00)
Rd. 2: vs. #4 Matt Kolodzik, Princeton – tonight
Senior Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), a 2015 All-American at 133 and unseeded this year at 141, took on No. 13 Javier Gasca of Michigan State in the opening round. Gulibon started quickly, taking Gasca down twice in the first period, picking up an escape on an injury restart to lead 5-0 with :58 riding time after the opening period. The Lion senior continued his dominance in the second stanza, adding a takedown and two near fall points to lead 9-0. Looking for bonus points, Gulibon tacked on four bonus points and, with 3:26 in riding time, notched a dominating 18-3 technical fall at the 7:00 mark.

149: #1 Zain Retherford, Jr. –

Rd. 1: vs. Joshua Maruca, Arizona State – W, 18-2 (TF; 4:55)
Rd. 2: vs. No. 16 Jordan Laster, Princeton – Tonight

Junior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), two-time All-American and last year’s NCAA Champion at 149, entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed. Retherford took on Arizona State’s Joshua Maruca in the opening round. Retherford took the Sun Devil down quickly, getting two near fall points in an opening flurry to lead 4-0 out of the gates. Retherford picked up two more takedowns and four near fall points to lead 12-2 after one. Retherford reversed Maruca to start the second period and rolled his way to an 18-2 technical fall at the 4:55 mark.

157: #1 Jason Nolf, So. —

Rd. 1: vs. Thomas Bullard, North Carolina St. – W, 22-7 (TF; 7:00)
Rd. 2: vs. #16 Victor Lopez, Bucknell – tonight

Sophomore Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 157 and an NCAA Finalist and All-American last year, took on Thomas Bullard of North Carolina State in the opening round. Nolf notched four first period takedowns and picked up a stall point to lead 9-3 after three minutes. He continued his dominance in the second period and led 12-4 heading into the third period. Nolf escaped to start the third and then tacked on a handful of takedowns and, with a ride out and 1:11 in riding time, posted the 22-7 tech fall at the 7:00 mark.

165: #3 Vincenzo Joseph, Fr. —

Rd. 1: vs. Keaton Subjeck, Stanford – W, 5-1 dec.
Rd. 2: vs. #14 Branson Ashworth, Wyoming – tonight

Red-shirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 165, faced off against Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck in the first round. Looking to avenge a loss to Subjeck in Rec Hall in November, Joseph battled Subjeck through a scoreless first period. The Lion freshman chose down to start the second stanza and escaped quickly. He added a late takedown and ride out to lead 3-0 after two periods. Subjeck escaped in the third but Joseph ended the match on top with another takedown and ride out to post the strong 5-1 win.

174: #5 Mark Hall, Fr. –

Rd. 1: vs. David Kocer, South Dakota State – W, 8-2 dec.
Rd. 2: vs. Jadaen Bernstein, Navy – tonight

True freshman Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), the No. 5 seed at 174 and one of two true freshmen in Penn State’s line-up, met David Kocer of South Dakota State in round one. Hall notched the first takedown and nearly locked up a cradle in the process but settled for a 2-0 lead. The true freshman then controlled Kocer for the next minute plus to lead 2-1 after one stanza. The second period featured an escape from Hall and Kocer answered with an escape of his own to start the third, setting up a 3-2 score in Hall’s favor with 1:45 left to wrestle. Hall iced the match with a takedown and the :40 mark. He then turned Kocer for two back points, finished on top and tacked on 1:36 in riding time to post a strong 8-2 decision.

184: #2 Bo Nickal, So. —

Rd. 1: vs. Mitch Sliga, Northwestern – W, 15-0 (TF; 3:20)
Rd. 2: vs. #15 Steven Schneider, Binghamton – tonight

Sophomore Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 2 seed at 184 and an NCAA Finalist and All-American at 174 a year ago, took on Mitch Sliga of Northwestern in the first round. Nickal took Sliga down quickly, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first minute. Nickal turned Sliga for four once, then reset and turned him again for four more to lead 10-0, then again for two to lead 12-0 with 2:20 in riding time after one period. Nickal escaped to start the second stanza and then ended the match with a final takedown, posting a 15-0 technical fall at the 3:20 mark.

197: #5 Matt McCutcheon, Jr. –

Rd. 1: vs. Christian Brunner, Purdue — WBF (1:53)
Rd. 2: vs. #12 Frank Mattiace, Penn – tonight

Junior Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), the No. 5 seed at 197 and a three-time NCAA qualifier, battled Christian Brunner of Purdue in the opening round. McCutcheon got in on an early first period single and Brunner forced a scramble in the middle of the mat. The Lion junior worked his way into control, getting Brunner’s back to the mat. McCutcheon worked his ankle free of Brunner’s hold and then forced the Boilermaker flat for a first period pin at the 1:53 mark, Penn State’s first fall of the tournament.

285: #5 Nick Nevills, So. – 3rd seed —

Rd. 1: vs. Doug Vollaro, Lehigh – W, 4-2 dec.
Rd. 2: vs. #12 William Miller, Edinboro – tonight

Sophomore Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.), the No. 5 seed at 285, battled Lehigh’s Doug Vollaro in the first round. The Lion sophomore battled Vollaro through a scoreless first period and then escaped quickly to start the second period to lead 1-0. Vollaro took Nevills down and the Lion quickly escaped, knotting the score at 2-2 after two periods. Vollaro chose neutral to start the third period and Nevills took advantage. The Lion sophomore got in on a low single, Vollaro tried to counter and Nevills worked his way into control and a 4-2 lead with :40 left. Nevills then broke the Mountain Hawk down and finished on top to post a hard-fought 4-2 win and finish off Penn State’s perfect first round.