Penn State Moves Defending NCAA Champ Bo Nickal Up to 197

By Andy Vance on August 31, 2018 at 11:40 am
Bo Nickal wins the 2018 NCAA title at 184 pounds.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State wrestler Bo Nickal's storied rivalry with Ohio State's Myles Martin may have come to an end.

Nickal, the two-time NCAA champion at 184 pounds and a three-time finalist, appears to be moving up to 197 pounds for the coming season, based on roster changes published on the team's website earlier this week.

The Nittany Lions have won seven of the last eight NCAA team titles, with Ohio State snagging the one crown this decade Penn State didn't earn. Nickal has played a major role in that unprecedented success, pinning Martin in Cleveland last March and sealing Penn State's most recent victory.

FloWrestling analyst Christian Pyles noted that Nickal's move to 197 makes him the prohibitive favorite in the class, supplanting Ohio State's Kollin Moore and other presumed title contenders Kyle Conel, Preston Weigel and Ben Darmstadt.

"Last year's NCAA champ (Michael Macchiavello) moved up from 184 where he DNP’d to NCAA champ the next year," Pyles wrote. "Somewhat of an indictment on 197 as a whole.  With the reigning 184 champ coming up, and only one elite blue chipper entering this weight (Jacob Warner), it’s tough to see this weight as anyone's but Bo’s."

Pyles also noted that Nickal's move doesn't so much change Penn State's presumed points totals, but is more about mitigating risk for Nickal facing Martin and Arizona State's Zahid Valencia at 184.

Penn State will almost certainly enter the season as the No. 1 team in the country and favored to win another title under head coach Cael Sanderson. For the Buckeyes, the overall picture might not have changed much, but for Kollin Moore and Myles Martin, their respective paths to individual titles just changed dramatically.

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