The Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-0 B1G), ranked No. 2 in the latest InterMat Tournament Power Index, won the last four bouts against No. 24 Illinois (3-2, 0-1 B1G) to pick up a victory in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Penn State won six of ten bouts including the last for to notch a 22-16 win in front of yet another Rec Hall sellout crowd.
With line-up changes brought on by the recent announcement that top-ranked heavyweight Anthony Cassar and All-American 197-pounder Kyle Conel were lost for the season and three other Lion starters out, Penn State roared back from a halftime deficit thanks to wins from two seniors and two true freshmen. A crowd of 6,202 watched Penn State beat the Illini, Penn State's 51st straight sellout in Rec Hall and the 56th of 58 at home (including five of seven in the Bryce Jordan Center).
True freshman Seth Nevills (Clovis, Calif.) made his Nittany Lion dual meet debut against Illinois heavyweight Luke Luffman. Nevills scored quickly, using a low shot to take Luffman down for an early 2-0 lead. Nevills then controlled the action on top and built up over 1:00 in riding time. Nevills continued to work on offense as the clock moved below the :50 mark. He finished the period on top and led 2-0 with 2:34 in riding time after the opening stanza. Nevills chose down to start the second period and quickly scrambled to an escape and a 3-0 lead. He then turned in on offense and went back to work on his feet. Nevills shot low from a standing position but Luffman countered for a late takedown to cut the Nevills lead to 3-2 after two periods. Luffman chose neutral to start the third period. He got in on a high shot but Nevills deftly used his strength to counter the move, work his way around the Illini and take a 5-2 lead with another takedown. Luffman notched a late escape but Nevills, with 3:04 in riding time, rolled to the 6-3 decision.