Penn State wins another team crown in Division I wrestling
March 19, 2017 12:00 AM
Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Penn State's Jason Nolf, top, takes down Missouri's Joey Lavallee in the final at 157 pounds Saturday in St. Louis.
By Ken Wunderley Tri-State Sports & News Service
Penn State claimed its sixth NCAA Division I team wrestling title in seven years as Western Pennsylvania natives Jason Nolf and Vincenzo Joseph won individual titles.
Nolf (27-0), a Kittanning graduate, claimed his first NCAA title with a 14-6 major decision win over Missouri’s Joey Lavallee (29-2) in the 157-pound class Saturday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“I just believed in my training,” Nolf said. “I know I train smarter and harder than anybody else.”
Nolf, who lost by one point a year ago in a final, was determined to bring home gold this year.
“I’m pretty excited as you can tell by my face,” said Nolf, who recorded six takedowns. “But no, I’m more of a mellow, stoic kind of guy. But I was really excited scoring a lot of points out there. I still think I could have scored more.”
“My goal in every bout is to keep scoring more and more points,” Nolf said.
Joseph (22-4), a Central Catholic grad, pulled the biggest upset of the finals by pinning two-time champion Isaiah Martinez (31-1) of Illinois in the 165-pound final.
“I had to go see my parents,” said Joseph, who ran into the stands after having his arm raised. “They’ve been there for me since I started wrestling when I was 5. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents support.”
Nolf and Joseph were two of five Penn State wrestlers who won titles, as the Nittany Lions ran away with the team title. They were joined atop the winners platform by teammates Zain Retherford, Mark Hall and Bo Nickal.
Retherford (28-0) claimed a second consecutive title at 149 pounds with an 18-2 technical fall of Missouri’s Lavion Mayes (23-3). It was the 63rd consecutive win for Retherford.
“I was feeling a little nervous, but an excited nervous,” said Retherford, who gave up the first takedown before dominating his opponent. “That signaled go-time for me.”
Hall (31-3), a true freshman, posted a 5-2 win over Ohio State’s Bo Jordan (18-1) in the 174-pound final.
Nickal (26-1) made his second appearance in the finals and won his first gold medal with a 4-3 upset of two-time champion Gabe Dean (34-1) of Cornell at 184 pounds. Nickal placed second at 174 a year ago.
Dean and Retherford were among five returning champions who won another title. The others were Missouri’s J’den Cox at 197; Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil (141) and Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder (285).
Four other local wrestlers earned All-American status by placing among the top eight in their weight class.
Iowa’s Michael Kemerer (33-3), a Franklin Regional graduate and No. 2 seed, rebounded from a quarterfinal loss with four consecutive wins in the consolation bracket to place third at 157.
Virginia Tech’s Solomon Chishko (29-5), a Canon-McMillan grad, placed sixth for the second year in a row, this time at 149.
Penn State’s Nick Nevills (25-5) placed fifth at 285.
Edinboro’s Sean Russell (37-8) placed seventh at 125.
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