If you attempt to find words to describe the Penn State Wrestling program, we can guarantee you that you will run out of superlatives. The Nittany Lions have been the most dominant college team in recent years; winning national championships in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Along with these three team championships, they crowned 11 individual national champions since 2016. These championships also marked coach Cael Sanderson’s 5th, 6th, and 7th national title. This year, Penn State had four national champions.
Two wrestlers that heavily contributed to this team’s remarkable success in recent years are Zain Retherford and Bo Nickal. Zain grew up in Benton (PA) and is a Finance major while Bo is originally from Allen (TX) and is working on his Kinesiology degree. Both standout-athletes have won the NCAA title in their respective weight classes in 2018.
After an impressive 130-3 high school career record, Zain was prone to be one of the most impactful wrestlers in college. As a result of his outstanding high school performance, Intermat ranked Zain as the #3 recruit after high school. It was therefore not too surprising to see Zain join one of the most prestigious and successful collegiate programs. He joined the Nittany Lions in the 2013-2014 season and finished his freshman year with a strong 33-3 record. He went undefeated in the regular season before falling in the Big 10 Conference finals and losing twice in the NCAA tournament (both losses at NCAAs were to #1 and #2 seeds).
However, what is far more impressive than his freshman year is what followed next. Who would have thought that these three losses are going to be his only losses in college? After redshirting the 2014-2015, Zain went on to win three consecutive NCAA titles, three consecutive Big 10 Conference titles, and closed out his collegiate career on a 94 match win streak (the longest active Division I win streak) and a combined career record of 126-3. For the lack of a more “appropriate” way to describe this… That is just sick!!!
We wish Zain all the best for his upcoming journey and congratulate him on one of the most impressive collegiate careers in college wrestling history.
Zain, however, is not the only Penn State wrestler with an incredibly astonishing collegiate career.
Bo Nickal has one more year ahead of him. Nonetheless, his records already make for an epic collegiate career. The Texas Native became a wrestler for Penn State in the 2014-2015 season. He redshirted his first year and completed his first season with the Nittany Lions the following year. In his freshman year, Bo finished with a 33-2 record, earned a Big Ten title, and was a runner-up at the NCAAs. His sophomore year was equally as impressive and at the end of the season, Bo crowned himself NCAA champion in the 184 lbs class.
This season, Bo recorded his most dominant season-to-date as he went completely undefeated and finished his junior year with 33 wins and his second NCAA title. His wins earned the Nittany Lions 69 points throughout the season and Bo, not surprisingly, has been ranked #1 nationally in all 20 weeks of 2018. After successfully closing out his junior season, he has a winning record of 95.45%.
Bo has one season left and we can not wait to see what this one has in store for him. We would like to wish Bo all the best for not just his upcoming senior year but also for all of his future plans.
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