Penn State vs. Lehigh Will be Keystone State Showdown

When the Lehigh Mountain Hawks arrive in Happy Valley to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center it will be a display of #PAPOWER. Both line-ups are littered with former Pennsylvania studs as a combined total 28 PIAA State Championships are owned between the two rosters. #4 Penn State is looking for their seventh straight dual victory over the #14 Mountain Hawks in what expects to be a low scoring dual with several ranked match-ups occurring. Overall I predict a (31-6) victory for the Nittany Lions. All Team and Individual Rankings by Intermat.


125 lbs.

#4 Darian Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic/Lehigh) vs. #6 Nick Suriano (New Jersey/Penn State)

It is one of the more highly anticipated bouts of the dual meet with two Top 10 ranked wrestlers clashing early with redshirt junior Darian Cruz (Lehigh) vs. true freshman Nick Suriano (Penn State). Suriano is hoping to have a Cruz like season when the 2x PIAA State Champion from Bethlehem Catholic earned All-American honors in his true freshman season in 2014. Cruz finished seventh in the Nation and following a redshirt year returned to action last season coming one win short of his second All-American finish. In the Championship round Cruz fell to Keystone State counterpart Connor Schram (Canon-McMillan/Stanford). This season Cruz comes in undefeated (6-0) and owns a win over #14 Sean Russell (Edinboro).

Suriano has a history of defeating Bethlehem Catholic wrestlers as he downed 3x PIAA State Champion Luke Karam twice last season as a senior. The true freshman also comes in undefeated at (6-0) and owns an impressive win over 2016 All-American #7 Connor Schram (Stanford). A lot of people are taking Suriano here and I think the bout will be a close one that comes down to riding time. Suriano has a chance to prove he is more than an All-American threat but a National Champion contender while Cruz can show he is back to All-American form.


133 lbs.

#12 Jered Cortez (Illinois/Penn State) vs. Scotty Parker (Pennridge/Lehigh)

Former 3x PIAA State Medalist and Runner-up Scotty Parker was an NCAA Qualifier as a rookie for Lehigh and returns this season after a redshirt year. Cortez is a transfer to Happy Valley from his home state of Illinois where he was a 4x State Champion. Coretz comes in with a (6-1) season record while Parker enters with a (3-3) record, two defeats came by way of forfeit. Parker may still be adjusting to competition at 133 lbs. but is no pushover. Cortez is highly touted and favored in this match but Parker can slow the match down to his pace.


141 lbs.

#3 Randy Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic/Lehigh) vs. #15 Jimmy Gulibon (Derry Area/Penn State)

A pair of 2012 PIAA Class AA State Champions will clash at 141 lbs. as #3 Randy Cruz meets #15 Jimmy Gulibon. The two Keystone State studs were each 4x PIAA State Medalists as Jimmy was a 4x PIAA State Champion for Derry Area. Cruz, a Bethlehem Catholic product, was a 3x PA State Finalist and 1x State Champion. The pair met in the 2011 PIAA State Finals at 119 lbs. with Gulibon winning (6-5) capturing his third straight PIAA State Championship. Last season both wrestlers competed at 141 lbs. with Cruz winning (4-0) during a dual meet and going on to finish as an All-American. Jimmy was a 2015 NCAA All-American finishing fifth at 133 lbs. for Penn State. Cruz enters ranked #3 having an undefeated (6-0) record while Gulibon is ranked #15 with a (5-3) season record. Jimmy fell to #2 Joey McKenna (Stanford) and dropped two surprising matches at the Keystone Classic to unranked opponents. There is a chance that Nittany Lion junior Kade Moss (Utah) gets the nod to start at 141 lbs. but will likely be a match-day decision.


149 lbs.

#1 Zain Retherford (Benton Area/Penn State) vs. #9 Laike Gardner (Biglerville/Lehigh)

Another all Pennsylvania match-up will take place at 149 lbs. with NCAA National Champion Zain Retherford (Benton Area) going against redshirt senior Laike Gardner (Biglerville). In the dual meet last season Retherford earned a (8-0) major decision over Gardner but the ‘Zain Train” will most certainly be looking for more this time around. Retherford is on another level destroying quality opponents and Nittany Lion Head Coach Cael Sanderson will be looking for bonus points from Zain. Although Gardner, a 2x NCAA Qualifier and 3x PIAA State Medalist, is no slouch he faces one of the top wrestlers in the Nation.


157 lbs.

#1 Jason Nolf (Kittanning/Penn State) vs. #14 Jordan Kutler (New Jersey/Lehigh)

3x PIAA State Champion and 2016 NCAA Runner-up Jason Nolf, like Retherford before him, is operating on another level. Cyborg enters with an undefeated (7-0) season record and a #1 National Ranking at 157 lbs. in his redshirt sophomore season. In all his wins Nolf has pinned or tech-falled his opponents with little regard for basic physics. Kutler is a redshirt freshman from Blair Academy and enters with a (5-1) season record and a #14 National Ranking. He has grabbed quality wins over Jake Short (Minnesota) and #18 Victor Lopez (Bucknell). Kutler’s goal is to not give up the bonus points which will be a tall task against Nolf.


165 lbs.

#10 Vincenzo Joseph (Central Catholic/Penn State) vs. Gordon Wolf (New Jersey/Lehigh) or #5 Mitch Minotti (Easton Area/Lehigh)

Redshirt freshman Vincenzo Joseph (Central Catholic/Penn State) will be in the hunt for his first career victory competing in Happy Valley. The 2x PIAA State Champion dropped a wild (18-12) bout to #12 Keaton Subjeck (Stanford) in his Rec Hall debut but bounced back to win the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia knocking off All-American #7 Chad Walsh (Rider) and #13 Te’Shan Campbell (Pittsburgh) en route to the Championship. Who Cenzo faces could be a myriad of Mountain Hawk wrestlers.

One option is 2x NCAA All-American #5 Mitch Minotti (Easton Area) who has yet to see action this season. The senior is ranked #5 in the Nation despite not competing since he suffered a season ending injury in January his junior season. Minotti, when healthy, will make an immediate impact wherever he ends up either at 157 lbs. or 165 lbs. If these two PA studs end up locking horns at the Bryce Jordan Center it should be the match of the day. Lehigh has used a variety of wrestlers at 165 lbs. this season including redshirt junior Drew Longo (New York), redshirt freshman Chase Gallik (Wallenpaupack), redshirt freshman Cole Walter (Mifflinburg Area), and redshirt sophomore Gordon Wolf (New Jersey). If Minotti won’t go I expect Wolf, a 2016 NCAA Qualifier, to get the nod from Head Coach Pat Santoro.


174 lbs.

#12 Shakur Rasheed (New York/Penn State) vs. #19 Ryan Preisch (Milton Area/Lehigh)

Much like 141 lbs. coach Sanderson will make a match-day decision on who to start at 174 lbs. between either redshirt sophomore Shakur Rasheed (New York) or redshirt senior Geno Morelli (DuBois Area). The two wrestlers have done battle both inside and outside of the practice room with Morelli getting the start in both Nittany Lion dual victories where he upended #13 Jim Wilson (Stanford). At the Keystone Classic they met in the finals in a wild eleven minute match which Rasheed won by fall. Whichever wrestlers gets the nod they will face #19 Ryan Preisch who comes in with a season record of (6-0) and some notable wins. Preisch, a 2x PIAA State Third Place Medalist, defeated true freshmen Nick Reenan (N.C. State) and Edinboro’s Ty Schoffstall (Tri-Valley).


184 lbs.

#3 Bo Nickal (Texas/Penn State) vs. Kyle Gentile (Pennridge/Lehigh)

2016 NCAA National Runner-up Bo Nickal is expected to pick up bonus points against true freshman Kyle Gentile (Pennridge) at 184 lbs. Nickal comes in undefeated at (6-0) winning all bouts by fall. Gentile, who in March 2016 placed third at the PIAA State Championship, unfortunately has a tough task ahead in Bo.


197 lbs.

#13 Matt McCutcheon (Kiski Area/Penn State) vs. Ben Haas (New York/Lehigh)

Moving up to 197 lbs. this season redshirt junior Matt McCutcheon comes in undefeated on the season (6-0) defeating #14 Frank Mattice (UPenn) in the Keystone Classic Finals. His opponent, Ben Haas, is a fifth year senior who last season began at 174 lbs. but jumped up to 197 lbs. This season Haas is (4-2) at 197 lbs. with the two sharing a common opponent. Both McCutcheon and Haas wrestled Zach Bruce (Pittsburgh) with Haas winning (9-0) and McCutcheon winning (5-2). Mouse knows how to grind out wins as the former PIAA State Champion is very comfortable in tight situations. Haas will be no pushover and will bring it against the 2x NCAA National Qualifier.


285 lbs.

#7 Nick Nevills (California/Penn State) vs. #11 Doug Vollaro (Massachusetts/Lehigh)

The dual will likely end the way it started with two top ranked wrestlers locking up at heavyweight. Redshirt sophomore Nick Nevills is healthy for the Nittany Lions and enters the dual undefeated (6-0) owning a win over #10 Nathan Butler (Stanford). Vollaro is equally qualified in his fifth year at Lehigh where he enters with a (5-1) record and a #11 National Rankings at heavyweight. Vollaro owns several quality wins over #13 Ross Larson (Oklahoma) and #15 Ryan Solomon (Pittsburgh) but fell to #16 William Miller (Edinboro). These two will likely keep it close throughout.



Penn State PIAA State Champions: 16

Brian Brill (Central Mountain) – 1x

Jimmy Gulibon (Derry Area) – 4x

Jan Johnson (Governor Mifflin) – 2x

Vincenzo Joseph (Central Catholic) – 2x

Matt McCutcheon (Kiski Area) – 1x

Jason Nolf (Kittanning) – 3x

Zain Retherford – 2x

Kellan Stout (Mount Lebanon) – 1x


Lehigh PIAA State Champions: 12

Ian Brown (Hanover) – 1x

Darian Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic) – 2x

Randy Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic) – 1x

Jake Jacobson (Stroudsburg) – 1x

Luke Karam (Bethlehem Catholic) – 3x

Kent Lane (Southern Columbia Area) – 1x

Mitch Minotti (Easton Area) – 1x

Cole Walter (Mifflinburg Area) – 1x

Jordan Wood (Boyertown Area) – 1x


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