PSU Wrestling takes out Binghamton
By ANDY ELDER
For The Express
BINGHAMTON, NY — Both the Penn State and Binghamton wrestling teams got what they were looking for Friday night in front of 3,019 fans at the Events Center.
The Bearcats got to showcase the interest in their burgeoning program, with a program record number of fans and even more on an ESPN3 broadcast. Penn State got a chance to use its dynasty status to help an emerging program while getting pushed, even though the 40-2 score wouldn’t indicate that.
“It should show you what wrestling means in this region, in Section 4 and upstate New York to have this type of crowd. It was really neat to see,” Binghamton coach Matt Dernlan said. “It was not that long ago that this sport was dropped here in Binghamton. Less than 15 years later we have a nationally competitive team that is actually able to host the best team in the country and to give this opportunity to show how excited people are to come out and support an event like this.”
Dernlan, the former Penn State assistant coach, said he knew his guys were in for a long night but he didn’t what them to back down from the challenge of the No. 1 Nittany Lions.
“That’s what we talked about all week long. We know what we’re up against from being there and coaching with these guys. That’s what Penn State wanted. They didn’t want us to come and just lay down. They wanted us to say ‘hey, come give us your best shot.’ That’s what we wanted. They’re trying to get battle-tested and match-tested themselves.”
Penn State won nine of 10 bouts, with three falls, four major decisions and a pair of decisions. The Nittany Lions have notched pins in 10 of 30 dual meet matches so far this season. Binghamton held a 3-0 lead in takedowns through two bouts, but Penn State ended with a 26-3 advantage.
The Nittany Lions once again faced a 3-0 hole after 125 and, through two periods, the bout at 133 was in doubt. But Corey Keener scored a reversal, four nearfall points and added a riding-time point for a 10-4 win.
“He was strangely athletic, a little spazzy. And he was long. In the first period he caught me in that inside trip. I had that mindset that ‘I just got take down, let’s get right up to my feet,'” Keener said.
The transfer from Central Michigan, who got to wrestle just a few hours from his alma mater, Blue Mountain High School in Schuylkill Haven, said he drew inspiration from his teammates.
“I’m a pretty quiet guy. Being on the road is only going to bond everybody even more,” he said. “They’re always goofing around and doing stuff. And when they’re out there wrestling it’s just exciting watching them go out the score points. It makes me want to go out there and score points and dictate the pace.”
Keener’s win sparked an eight-match Nittany Lion sweep to end the dual. Zain Retherford (2:37), Jason Nolf (4:23) and Mark Hall (3:14) all recorded pins. Jered Cortez (12-2 at 141), Vincenzo Joseph (13-2 at 165), Bo Nickal (14-6 at 184) and Nick Nevills (12-3 at 285) piled up major decisions. Anthony Cassar earned a decision at 197.
Penn State could have picked any number of destinations to improve its record to 3-0, but it chose a program on the rise like Binghamton. Dernlan said that speaks to the vision of Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson and his staff.
“That’s where you have to give the Penn State guys credit. I know what is said, but the intent – these guys are here to grow wrestling. They understand we’re an emerging program that just came back into existence over a decade ago. They understand the importance of giving back to the sport, growing programs that are trying to build up,” he said.
“That’s really a testament to Penn State. They don’t have to focus on anybody else but themselves but to see what they’ve done since Cael has been there, every year there is one or two programs that he’s taken a vested interest in. ‘Yes, these guys can use our efforts,’ and I really respect that about him.”
No. 1 Penn State 40
(Friday at Binghamton, NY)
125: Joe Nelson, BU, dec. Devin Schnupp, 7-4.
133: No. 15 Corey Keener, PSU, dec. Jacob Nicholson, 10-4.
141: Jered Cortez, PSU, maj. dec. Joe Russ, 12-2.
149: No. 1 Zain Retherford, PSU, pinned Frankie Garcia, 2:37.
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf, PSU, pinned Tristan Rifanburg, 4:23.
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, maj. dec. Vincent DePrez, 13-2.
174: No. 2 Mark Hall, PSU, pinned Anthony Lombardo, 3:14.
184: No. 1 Bo Nickal, PSU, maj. dec. No. 14 Steven Schneider, 14-6.*
197: Anthony Cassar, PSU, dec. Mark Tracy, 10-4.
285:Binghamton deducted a team point at end of 184-pound bout.
Referee: William Doran.
Takedowns: Penn State 26; Binghamton 3.
Records: Penn State 3-0; Binghamton 0-1.
Next match: Penn State at Keystone Classic, 10 a.m. Sunday in Philadelphia.