LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell wrestling team will face two opponents ranked in the nation's top 10 this weekend.
On Friday, the Bison will host No. 10 Lehigh at 7 p.m. in Sojka Pavilion. They will then travel to No. 1 Penn State, winner of six of the past seven NCAA titles, for a 2 p.m. dual on Sunday.
Bucknell will likely face six defending NCAA champions. Nine of the wrestlers the Bison are projected to square off against are ranked in the nation's top five, including four who came in at No. 1 in the Intermat, The Open Mat and FloWrestling rankings. Between the three teams, 15 of the wrestlers projected to take the mat hold a national ranking in their weight class.
Admission is free for Bucknell's home match against Lehigh. There will be a post-match social at the Shanty at the Towne Tavern. Wrestling t-shirts will also be sold at the event.
Projected Bucknell Lineup
125: Jakob Campbell (0-2)
133: Joey Gould (--)
141: No. 10/6/9 Tyler Smith (2-0)
149: Seth Hogue (1-1)
157: Mitch Hartman (0-2)
165: D.J. Hollingshead (--)
174: Nick Stephani (1-1)
184: Drew Phipps (1-1)
197: Garrett Hoffman (--)
285: Eric Chakonis (0-2)
Projected Lehigh Lineup
125: No. 4/1/4 Darian Cruz* (--)
133: No. 4/4/4 Scott Parker (--)
141: Luke Karam (--)
149: Jon Mele (--)
157: Ian Brown (--)
165: No. 18/-/14 Cole Walter (--) OR Drew Longo (--) OR Gordon Wolf (--)
174: No. 11/13/6 Jordan Kutler (--)
184: No. 6/8/8 Ryan Preisch (--)
197: Chris Weiler (--) OR Jake Jakobsen (--)
285: No. 20/20/19 Jordan Wood (--)
Projected Penn State Lineup
125: Devin Schnupp (--) OR Justin Lopez (0-2) OR Kenny Yanovich (0-0)
133: No. 15/12/20 Corey Keener (--)
141: Jered Cortez (--)
149: No. 1/1/1 Zain Retherford* (--)
157: No. 1/1/1 Jason Nolf* (--)
165: No. 1/1/1 Vincenzo Joseph* (--)
174: No. 2/1/2 Mark Hall* (--)
184: No. 1/1/1 Bo Nickal* (--)
197: No. 4/4/4 Matt McCutcheon (--) OR Anthony Cassar (0-0) OR Shakur Rasheed (4-1)
285: No. 3/4/3 Nick Nevills (--)
Note: 2017-18 record in parentheses; rankings are Intermat/The Open Mat/FloWrestling; * defending NCAA champion
A Look Back at Last Week
• The Bison opened the 2017-18 campaign by taking on CSU Bakersfield and No. 25 Edinboro in Edinboro, Pa. They fell to both the Roadrunners (10-26) and Fighting Scots (10-30), snapping their 10-match winning streak one victory shy of the school record that spanned parts of the 1987-88 and 1988-89 campaigns.
• Tyler Smith went 2-0 for Bucknell, scoring both of his wins by major decision. In a rematch from the first round of the 2017 NCAA championship's 141-pound bracket, Smith topped No. 19 Russell Rohlfing of CSU Bakersfield, 11-2. He then defeated Edinboro's Nate Hagan, 16-6.
• Two other Bison won their bouts against CSU Bakersfield by decision: Seth Hogue (149) and Nick Stephani (174). Both of their victories came by just two points.
• At 197, Tom Sleigh was narrowly defeated by No. 11 Matt Williams of CSU Bakersfield in another rematch from the 2017 NCAA championship. In the final seconds, Williams scored a point to pull out a 6-5 victory.
• Drew Phipps became the first Bison to win by fall in 2017-18, pinning Edinboro's Aaron Paddock 4:52 into their 197 bout. It was his second career win by fall.
• Tyler Smith (141) and Tom Sleigh (197) appear in this week's Intermat, The Open Mat and FloWrestling rankings.
• Smith checks in at No. 10, 6 and 9 respectively. He moved up two spots in The Open Mat rankings from last week.
• Sleigh stands No. 14, 12 and 15 respectively.
Bucknell at a Glance
• Bucknell went 12-4 (9-1 EIWA) in 2016-17
• The Bison closed the regular-season portion of their schedule on a 10-match winning streak, one victory shy of the school record that spanned parts of the 1987-88 and 1988-89 campaigns.
• Bucknell hosted the EIWA Championships and placed sixth, with Tom Sleigh (197) and Tyler Smith (141) earning auto bids to the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships after finishing second and fourth respectively.
• Sleigh and Smith, both three-time NCAA qualifiers, were joined at the national championships by at-large selections Victor Lopez (157) and Garrett Hoffman (184).
• With Hoffman, Sleigh and Smith back in 2017-18, the Bison boast a combined seven NCAA appearances.
• Dan Wirnsberger, who has led Bucknell since 2005, enters the 2017-18 campaign with 110 victories. He is just one of two Bison coaches to eclipse the 100-win plateau, joining Bob Ferraro, who compiled a 169-175-6 record from 1974 to 1997.
• In 2017, Smith was one match away from being crowned a 2017 All-American. Sleigh enters his senior campaign with 89 career victories, which is tied for 11th in school history. He has averaged nearly 30 wins a season, putting him on pace to crack Bucknell’s top five in career victories.
• This season, the Bison will face four teams ranked in the preseason top 25 in the first two months: unanimous No. 1 Penn State (Nov. 12), No. 10 Lehigh (Nov. 10), Nov. 24 Pitt (Dec. 17) and No. 25 Edinboro (Nov. 5).
• For the full season preview, visit this link.
Lehigh at a Glance
• Lehigh went 10-4 (7-1 EIWA) in 2016-17
• The Mountain Hawks finished second at the 2017 EIWA championships. Darian Cruz (125) won his second-straight individual title while Scott Parker (133) captured his first.
• Cruz went on to win an NCAA title, breaking a 2-2 tie with two takedowns in the final 25 seconds of regulation to defeat Minnesota's Ethan Lizak, 6-3. Both Cruz (Allentown) and Lizak (Schnecksville) hail from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.
• Cruz's national championship was the 28th won by a Lehigh wrestler and the first since 2011.
• Parker also made the podium at the NCAA championshps, finishing seventh.
• Six Mountain Hawks in the projected lineup are ranked. Cruz was slotted No. 1 by The Open Mat.
• Lehigh leads the all-time series, 11-1. The Mountain Hawks and Bison have squared off during six of the past seven seasons, with Bucknell's lone victory coming during the 2013-2014 campaign.
• The Bison made headlines across the sport's tight-knit community by defeating No. 22 Lehigh, 18-17, in Bethlehem, Pa. on Nov. 9, 2013. Bucknell won five of the 10 bouts, with Alex Pellicciotti's victory at 149 perhaps the most impressive. He defeated No. 19 Mitch Minotti, one of three ranked Mountain Hawks, by a 5-4 margin.
Penn State at a Glance
• Penn State went 14-0 (9-0 Big Ten) in 2016-17.
• The Nittany Lions finished second to Ohio State at the Big Ten championships but went on to win their sixth NCAA title in the past seven seasons.
• Penn State saw five wrestlers be crowned national champions: Zain Retheford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184).
• Penn State returns all five of its NCAA champions in 2017-18, and all five are projected to wrestle against the Bison.
• Retheford, Nolf, Joseph and Nickal were slotted atop the Intermat, The Open Mat and FloWrestling rankings while Hall was tabbed first by The Open Mat and second by the other two. In total, eight Nittany Lions in the projected lineup are ranked.
• Penn State opens its season tomorrow by hosting Army West Point.
• This will be the first official meeting between Bucknell and Penn State. In 1944-45, a team of servicemen stationed at Bucknell conducted a wrestling program. That group faced off against the Nittany Lions on Jan. 13 and was edged by a slim 17-11 margin. Bucknell went on to elevate wrestling to the varsity level in 1946-47.
Bison Take on Nation's No. 1 Team
• The Bison are set to take on the nation's top team for the second season in a row.
• A year ago, Bucknell opened its season at No. 1 Oklahoma State on Nov. 6. At 157, Victor Lopez topped David Dolan by decision, 7-5.
• Before that meeting with the Cowboys, Bucknell last faced the No. 1 team in the nation on Nov. 27, 2009 when it hosted No. 1 Iowa.
A Look Ahead
• The Bison attend the Navy Classic on Saturday, Nov. 18 in Annapolis, Md. The event begins at 10 a.m.