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Penn State 'very optimistic' NCAA wrestling champ Jason Nolf will return for postseason

MARK WOGENRICH
(Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
  • Returning national champion wrestler Jason Nolf suffered a knee injury last weekend.
  • Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson is 'optimistic' his star will return for the postseason.
  • Nolf is the reigning Big Ten Wrestler of the Year.

Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson is “very optimistic” that returning national champ Jason Nolf will be ready for the postseason after suffering a knee injury last weekend against Rutgers.

Penn State's Jason Nolf, top, wrestles against Missouri's Joey Lavallee in their 157-pound championship match during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in St. Louis.

Nolf, the defending Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and reigning NCAA champ at 157 pounds, was leading Rutgers’ John Van Brill 5-4 when he was forced to take an injury default in the second period. On his weekly radio show, Sanderson said that tests showed that the injury “wasn’t as bad as we feared.”

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll have a strong Nolf back for the postseason,” Sanderson said.

The coach added that Nolf, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 157, likely will not compete in Penn State’s three remaining dual matches, calling his status “week to week.”

Sanderson said no one’s redshirt will be pulled to replace Nolf. With no one else listed at 157 pounds on the roster, it’s not yet known who will fill in for Nolf for at least the next two weeks.

Penn State, ranked No. 1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, hosts No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. The match is scheduled for 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

For Penn State, Sanderson’s optimistic injury report offered hope for the postseason. The Lions, who return five NCAA champs, are seeking their third consecutive NCAA team title and seventh in the last eight years.