Mark Hall is one of eight semifinalists for Penn State (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- No. 1 Penn State (14-0, 9-0 B1G) had an impressive morning in Minnesota, roaring in the opening session of the 2019 Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis. Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad sits in first place after the opening session of the two-day event at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena. All rankings listed are InterMat as of Feb. 26.
The Nittany Lions moved eight wrestlers through to Saturday night's semifinals. All eight have also secured bids to the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh on March 21-23. One Lion is still alive, with a bit more work to do to earn a trip to nationals and can still finish as high as third, and one Lion ended his season during the opening session.
Sophomore Devin Schnupp (Lititz, Pa.) made his first ever appearance at the Big Ten Championship at 125. Schnupp took on fifth seed and 12th-ranked Travis Piotrowski of Illinois in his first match and dropped a 17-0 technical fall. He then took on Rutgers' Shane Metzler in his first consolation bout and lost a 6-1 decision. The loss ends Schnupp's tournament and his season. The Lion sophomore posted a 6-16 record this year, including picking up his first Big Ten dual meet victory.
True freshman Roman Bravo-Young (Tucson, Ariz.), ranked No. 12 nationally at 133 and the fourth seed, made his Big Ten tournament debut against Nebraska's Jevon Parrish. Bravo-Young took an early 6-2 lead with three first period takedowns, added three more in the second and rolled to an 18-5 major with 2:26 in riding time. Bravo-Young then met No. 7 Luke Pletcher of Ohio State in the quarterfinals. Bravo-Young drew first blood and led 2-1 after the opening period. Pletcher answered with a takedown and two back points to lead 6-3 after two periods. The Buckeye added another takedown in the third and posted the hard-fought 8-5 win, sending Bravo-Young into consolation action in session two.
Sophomore Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.), ranked No. 2 at 141 and the second seed at the tournament, had a first round bye. He met No. 16 Max Murin of Iowa in the quarterfinals and opened up an early lead with two first period takedowns. Murin cut the lead to 4-3 with an escape in the second period, but Lee got an escape, a penalty point and a takedown in the third to roll to the 8-3 victory. The win advances Lee to the semifinals in session two and punches his ticket to the NCAA Championships.
Redshirt freshman Brady Berge (Mantorville, Minn.), ranked No. 13 nationally at 149 and the sixth seed, took on Purdue's Parker Filius in his Big Ten tournament debut. Berge notched two first period takedowns to open up an early lead, picked up another two points in the second period and poured it on in the third to roll to a 12-3 major with 1:43 in riding time. Berge took on No. 9 Pat Lugo of Iowa in the quarterfinals. Berge battled the third seed through a scoreless first period and then took a lead with an escape to start the second and Lugo escaped to start the third, tying the match at 1-1 with less than 1:40 to wrestle. The duo wrestled through one sudden victory period and both escaped in the first tiebreaker. With just :33 left in the second sudden victory minute, Berge deftly slid around Lugo for a takedown and posted the thrilling 4-2 (sv2) win, moving in to the semifinals and earning a trip to the NCAA Championships as a redshirt freshman.
Senior Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 157 and the top seed, had a first round bye. Nolf met No. 12 Eric Barone of Illinois in the quarterfinals and opened up an early lead with three takedowns and then locked up a cradle on the third. Nolf settled in and picked up the fall at the 2:13 mark to move into the semifinals in session two and secure his ticket to the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.
Junior Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 165 and the top, had a first round bye. Joseph took on Joey Gunther of Illinois in the quarterfinals and opened up a big lead early with five takedowns in the first period. The Lion junior picked up an escape to start the second and tacked on two more takedowns to lead by ten after two. Joseph added four near fall points and a final takedown to post the dominating 21-6 tech fall at the 5:59 mark, moving in to the semis and punching his ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Junior Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.), ranked No. 1 at 174 and the top seed, had a first round bye. Hall faced off against Drew Hughes off Michigan State in the quarterfinals and opened up a big early lead with two quick first period takedowns. Hall then locked Hughes up at the shoulders, took him took the mat and quickly pinned him at the 2:38 mark. Halls dazzling move moves him into the semifinals and punches his ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Senior Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.), ranked No. 2 nationally at 184 and the second seed, had a first round bye. He met No. 20 Cameron Caffey of Michigan State in the quarterfinals and took a big early lead with a takedown and four back points. He dominated the first period on top, keeping Caffey down for the bulk of the period to collect over 2:00 of riding time after one period. Rasheed added a takedown in the second, chose top to start the third and quickly locked up a cradle to pin Caffey at the 5:17 mark. Rasheed's win moves him into the semifinals and earns him a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Senior Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), ranked No. 1 at 197 and the top seed, drew a first round bye. He took on Michigan State's Brad Wilton in the quarterfinals and blew the match open early. Nickal notched two takedowns, picking up four near fall on the second. After a reset out of bounds, the Lion spent the rest of the period working on top and had nearly 3:00 of riding time and a seven-point lead after one period. Nickal picked up two more takedowns and two back points in the second and then finished bout early in the third with two more takedowns. Nickal posted the 19-4 tech fall at the 5:34 mark, moves into the semifinals, and earns a trip to NCAAs.
Senior Anthony Cassar (Rocky Hill, N.J.), ranked No. 3 at 285 and the second seed, met Purdue's Jacob Aven in the opening round of his first Big Ten tournament. He picked up three first period takedowns, one in the second and then a final one in the third period. The Lion added 2:25 in riding time and posted the 12-4 major. He took on No. 13 David Jensen of Nebraska in the quarterfinals and opened up an early lead with a first period takedown. He picked up an escape and a takedown in the second and then added a final takedown and 3:48 in riding to roll to an 8-4 win. The victory moves Cassar through to the semifinals and earns him a trip to his first NCAA Championship tournament.
Penn State went 3-1 with three majors in its four first-round bouts, 8-1 in the quarterfinals and 0-1 in consolation action to post an 11-3 record on the day. The Nittany Lions tallied 12 bonus points off three majors, two tech falls and three pins.
Penn State has won five Big Ten Championships (tournament) under Sanderson and six Big Ten Regular Season (dual meet) titles, including this year's dual crown. The Nittany Lions have had 25 individuals win a total of 43 Big Ten individual titles.
Action resumes tonight with session two, including the Big Ten semifinals, at 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central (local). The tournament concludes on Sunday with consolation action starting at 1 p.m. Eastern / 12 p.m. Central (local) and the championship finals at 4 p.m. Eastern / 3 p.m. Central (local). The Finals will air live on the Big Ten Network and the entire tournament, every mat, will stream live on BTN2go/BTN-Plus ($).
1. Penn State 77
2. Minnesota 54
3. Ohio State 53.5
4. Michigan 45
4. Nebraska 45
6. Iowa 41
7. Wisconsin 31.5
8. Rutgers 23.5
9. Northwestern 20
10. Michigan State 17
11. Purdue 16.5
12. Illinois 16
13. Indiana 9
14. Maryland 1.5