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Photo: Vincenzo Joseph took control of Lehigh’s Gordon Wolf in the 165-pound semifinals of the 2018 Southern Scuffle. (Photo by Ginger Robinson)
By Mike Finn, WIN Editor
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Penn State will return five defending national champions to this year’s NCAA Championships in March and four of those Nittany Lions — Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Bo Nickal — displayed their creativity Tuesday afternoon in McKenzie Arena by scoring bonus point victories in the semifinals of the 2018 Southern Scuffle.
Retherford, the two-time NCAA champ and 2017 Hodge Trophy winner, and Nolf scored falls at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively), while Joseph tallied a technical fall at 165 pounds and Nickal won by major decision — to lead seven Nittany Lions into the finals, which begin at 7 p.m. EST.
Also advancing to the finals are PSU’s other defending champ Mark Hall, who settled for a decision at 174 pounds, while true freshman Nick Lee (competing unattached) and Shakur Rasheed each scored pins in their semifinal bouts at 141 and 197 pounds, respectively
With three other wrestlers in consolation, Penn State has dominated the team competition 165 points. Battling for second place is Northern Iowa (118.5) and Lehigh (92). The Panthers send four wrestlers to the finals while two Mountain Hawks are still eligible to win a championship.
Team Standings Before Finals
Southern Scuffle Semifinal Highlights
Darius Cruz (Lehigh) won by major dec. over Louie Hayes (Virginia), 11-0 — The defending national champ used a four-point tight waist tilt to lead 6-0 after one period. His final point came from over four minutes of riding time.
Jay Schwarm (Northern Iowa) pinned Sergio Mendes (CSU- Bakersfield), :50 — The Panther needed 25 seconds to first take down Mendes to his back with a reverse cradle to take a 6-0 lead before ending the bout 25 seconds later with another cradle and the fall.
Gary Wayne Harding (Oklahoma State) dec. Colby Smith (Campbell), 3-2 — A 2:13 riding time advantage – much of it coming from the Cowboy riding Smith the entire second period – provided the winning margin. Harding scored the bout’s first points on a third period reversal before Smith earned a locked hands point and stalling point.
Jack Mueller (Virginia) won by injury default over Austin DeSanto (Drexel), 6:02 — DeSanto was unable to continue wrestling when he was forced to take a concussion protocol with 58 seconds left in the match after he slammed his head to the mat as he scored a takedown against the Cavalier. DeSanto also scored a first-period takedown before Mueller took a 3-2 lead with a second-period takedown.
Nick Lee (Penn State-unattached) pinned Josh Alber (Northern Iowa) 6:51 — Leading just 5-4 – and just warned for stalling – the young Nittany Lion stunned the Panther and the crowd when he used a double overhook to take Alber to his back and scored the fall with nine seconds left in the bout. Lee scored the bout’s first takedown with seven seconds left in the first period. Alber cut the margin to 3-2 in with a second-period takedown before Lee quickly earned a reversal to lead 5-2. A pair of escapes by Alber cut the margin to 5-4.
Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State) dec. Luke Karam (Lehigh), 2-1 — The Cowboy scored the bout’s only takedown in the third after choosing neutral to start the final frame. Karam, who overcame a first-period injury, led 1-0 on a second-period escape.
Zain Retherford (Penn State) pinned Sam Krivus (Virginia), 1:53 — The defending Hodge Trophy winner twice put the Cavalier in his famous bow and arrow in the first period and used the painful hold to score the fall.
Josh Heil (Campbell) dec. Jared Prince (Navy), 4-3 — Heil advanced to the finals because of a 2:19 riding time advantage after controlling the Midshipman for nearly the entire third period.
Jason Nolf (Penn State) pinned Paul Fox (Stanford), 3:42 — The defending champ twice utilized his crazy famous takedown/pin — where he defends a takedown and catches his opponent to their back with his legs — once in the first period and later in the second to take an 11-2 lead and eventually flattened the Cardinal in the second period.
Mitch Finesilver (Duke) major dec. Garrett Hammond (Drexel) 9-1 — The Blue Devil scored a pair of first-period takedown then used a dominating 5:52 riding advantage for the major decision
Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) won by technical fall over Gordon Wolf (Lehigh), 19-3 5:53 — The defending national champ ended the bout when he used a third-period reversal to put the Mountain Hawk on his back for a third time in the match. Joseph led 8-0 in the first 30 second when he took Wolf to his back for a four-point nearfall, then quickly added another two-point nearfall.
Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa) dec. Chance Marsteller (Lehigh) 3-2 — A second-period reversal by the Panther — who is redshirting this year — provided the winning margin. Marsteller nearly scored a takedown before time ran out in the final period.
Mark Hall (Penn State) dec. Jadaen Bernstein (Navy), 3-0 — The defending national champ scored all his points in the final 53 seconds of the bout — first on an escape and later a takedown with 17 seconds left — for the victory. Hall also rode Bernstein the entire second period.
Jordan Kutler (Lehigh) dec. Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa) 8-4 — The Mountain Hawk scored a takedown in each period and added a 1:56 riding time advantage.
Bo Nickal (Penn State) major dec. Nick Reenan (NC State), 12-4 — Nickal only led 3-0 after two periods before exploding for four more takedowns and a 3:40 riding time advantage
Drew Foster (Northern Iowa) dec. Bryce Carr (Chattanooga), 2-0 — Foster rode out Carr the entire second period then added a third-period escape for the shutout victory
Jacob Holschlag (Northern Iowa) dec. Anthony Cassar (Penn State) 6-4 sv — A video review overturned a late takedown by Cassar and sent the 4-4 bout into overtime where the Panther scored his only takedown with 38 seconds left. Cassar scored two takedowns to lead 4-2 in the third before Holschlag tied the bout on an escape and locked hands call vs. the Nittany Lion.
Shakur Rasheed (Penn State) pinned Matt Williams (CSU Bakersfield), 0:41 — Rasheed led 2-0 when he caught the No. 2 seed in a far-side cradle before scoring the fall.
Mike Boykin (NC State) dec. Nathan Butler (Stanford), 3-1 — The Wolfpacker scored the bout’s only takedown in the third frame.
Jake Kasper (Duke) dec. Mike Hughes (Hofstra), 2-0 — The Blue Devil earned a second period escape and rode Hughes the entire third frame.