Photo by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
The story of Anthony Cassar (Penn State) was a fascinating one long before what transpired Saturday night. After not qualifying for the state tournament his first three years of high school in New Jersey, Cassar went undefeated his senior season, winning a state title and ending up at Penn State. After a redshirt year, he made the Junior world team but was injured at the Junior World Championships in Salvadore de Bahia, Brazil. Unable to stay healthy since then, we hadn’t seen Cassar on a college mat since until he showed up at the start of this season. Initially, he was battling senior Matt McCutcheon for the starting spot, but about the time it looked like McCutcheon’s body would not allow him to return to his best, another contender emerged in Shakur Rasheed. The former 165 ran through the Southern Scuffle, beating four ranked foes, pinning the last three.
As the biggest dual of the season loomed Saturday night at Rec Hall, most fans wanted to see Rasheed. While Cassar has just two losses on the season, the remarkable run and pinning ability of his teammate was more than enough to shift public perception. However, it was Cassar that got the call and, as he has done throughout his career when he is healthy, he made the most of his opportunity. With Penn State leading by one point and Kyle Snyder up next for Ohio State, Cassar was tasked with beating top-ranked and undefeated Kollin Moore, a returning NCAA third-place finisher. After a scoreless opening three minutes, Cassar notched takedowns in each of the final two periods to build a 5-2 lead. He then rode out Moore for the final 50 seconds, conceding a stalling point en route to a massive 6-3 victory. That win gave Nick Nevills just enough cushion to clinch the dual as Penn State won their 43rd in a row, 19-18.
For his efforts, Anthony Cassar (Penn State) is TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week!