Lehigh at Penn State: Five matchups to watch

Penn State's Nick Suriano has as 6-0 record and No. 6 ranking at 125 pounds (Photo/Juan Garcia)

Defending national champion Penn State hosts Lehigh at the Bryce Jordan Center today at 12 p.m. ET. It marks the 84th straight year the two Pennsylvania collegiate wrestling programs have met. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 67-34-3, and have won the last six meetings.

The dual meet will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

Below are five matchups to watch today.

125: No. 6 Nick Suriano (Penn State) vs. No. 4 Darian Cruz (Lehigh)

The true freshman Suriano has steadily climbed the rankings at 125 pounds after starting the season 6-0, which includes a victory over Stanford All-American Connor Schram. Suriano, a four-time undefeated New Jersey state champion, will get another test against the fourth-ranked Cruz, a 2014 All-American and returning EIWA champion. A win for Suriano will likely move him into the top five in the rankings just over a month into his young college wrestling career.

141: No. 15 Jimmy Gulibon (Penn State)/Kade Moss vs. No. 3 Randy Cruz (Lehigh)

Gulibon, a 2015 All-American, is off to a slow start, going 5-3 in his first eight matches, with losses to two unranked wrestlers. The Nittany Lions could also go with Kade Moss. Either wrestler will have his hands full against the returning All-American Cruz, who has started the season 6-0, which includes a tiebreaker win over 2015 All-American Kevin Jack of NC State at the Journeymen Classic. Last season Cruz blanked Gulibon 4-0 in the dual meet. Will Gulibon right the ship and inch closer to the top 10 in the rankings? Or will Cruz continue his perfect season?

157: No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) vs. No. 14 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh)

Nolf, a returning NCAA runner-up, has been dominant in the early part of his redshirt sophomore season. He is 7-0 with five pins and two technical falls. Lehigh's Kutler, a redshirt freshman, climbed to No. 14 in the rankings by winning five of his first six matches. He has wins over returning NCAA qualifiers Jake Short of Minnesota, who won the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday, and Victor Lopez of Bucknell. While Kutler has been solid this season, it will be a tall order to stay competitive with Nolf.

174: No. 12 Shakur Rasheed (Penn State)/Geno Morelli vs. No. 19 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh)

Much like 141 pounds, Penn State's starter has not been solidified in this weight class, but they have a couple of solid options in Rasheed and Morelli. The two PSU wrestlers have combined to go 11-1 this season. Morelli was given the nod in Penn State's opening weekend against Army West Point and Stanford. However, a week later Rasheed edged Morelli 2-1 in the second tiebreaker in the finals of the Keystone Classic. Preisch was an NCAA qualifier last season at 165 pounds, but made the move up to 174 pounds this season and is wrestling very well. He's one of three undefeated wrestlers on the Lehigh team. Last season he defeated Rasheed 3-1 at the Southern Scuffle.

285: No. 7 Nick Nevills (Penn State) vs. No. 11 Doug Vollaro (Lehigh)

Nevills, the nation's top heavyweight coming out of high school in 2014, was hampered by an injury -- torn pectoral muscle -- that kept him out most of his redshirt freshman season. He made his Nittany Lion debut in mid-February against Lehigh and dropped hard-fought match, 5-4, to Max Wessell. He finished the season with a 6-3 record, but failed to qualify for the NCAAs. Nevills is now healthy and performing at a very high level. He comes in with a 6-0 record and No. 7 ranking. He will get a a major test against Lehigh as he faces Doug Vollaro, who enters with a 5-1 record and No. 11 ranking.

Dual Meet Prediction: Penn State 31, Lehigh 6


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