STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s depth took a substantial hit earlier this week with the announcement that reigning NCAA heavyweight champion Anthony Cassar (3-0) suffered a season-ending injury.
The Nittany Lions this week also lost redshirt freshman Brody Teske (125 pounds) to the NCAA transfer portal. Freshman Adam Busiello joined the program on Wednesday. He began his collegiate career at Arizona State.
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson will forge ahead this season with a talented roster as the Nittany Lions attempt to win the program’s eleventh national championship.
Penn State begins its post-Cassar era push today when the fourth-ranked dual meet (Intermat) Nittany Lions host No. 18 (Intermat) Illinois at Rec Hall in dual-meet action. Penn State closes its Big Ten opening weekend at home on Sunday against No. 14 Northwestern.
The Nittany Lions bring a 3-1 overall record into this week’s conference opener.
Penn State began the season with a loss to Arizona State (19-18) and has since picked up wins at Lehigh (23-10) and Pennsylvania (33-7).
Senior Vincenzo Joseph (165 pounds) and Mark Hall (174 pounds) sport No. 1 rankings by Intermat in their respective weight class, while Nick Lee (141 pounds) is ranked No. 2. Joseph (4-0) earned NCAA championships during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Hall, a senior, has gone 11-0 in matches this season. Hall last season claimed a Big Ten title at 174 pounds last season, and he won an NCAA title as a freshman.
Sophomore Roman Bravo-Young (133 pounds) has gone 9-0 this year, and is ranked No. 3. Bravo-Young earned All-American accolades as a freshman last year despite missing a portion of the year with an injury.
With Cassar out of for the season, Penn State will turn to Seth Nevills as a replacement. The freshman is 6-0 this year. As a high school wrestler in California, Nevills won four prep championships.
The Nittany Lions have also lost senior Kyle Conel (197 pounds) to injury. Conel’s loss could present the opportunity for senior Shakur Rasheed to fill in.
Rasheed’s career at Penn State has been injury-plagued, but he’s proven himself to be one of the squad's most talented grapplers when healthy. Rasheed hasn’t been deployed this season, but he’s competed at 184 and 197 throughout his career.
A quartet of Illinois wrestlers carries Top 25 rankings into Friday dual meet: No. 7 Travis Piotrowski (133 pounds), No. 8 Joey Gunther (174 pounds), No. 15 Danny Braunagel (165 pounds) and No. 16 Dylan Duncan (141 pounds).
Illinois opened the season with a 19-15 loss to Army before winning three straight against Tennessee-Chattanooga (22-10), Missouri (19-14) and Northern Illinois (22-15).
Penn State welcomes Rutgers to Rec Hall on Jan. 19, before traveling to No. 2 Nebraska (Jan. 24) and No. 1 Iowa (Jan. 31).
The Nittany Lions open their February slate of matches on Feb. 2 at home against Maryland. Penn State has road matches next month against No. 8 Wisconsin (Feb. 7) and No. 19 Minnesota (Feb. 9).
Penn State concludes its Big Ten schedule on Feb. 15 against No. 6 Ohio State at the Bryce Jordan Center.