January 21, 2011

Wrestling Wreport: weekend preview

Welcome to Penn State, Pitt your stay will not be a pleasant one
Penn State will travel to Indiana for a road dual at 2PM Sunday, but before that they get to host old-time rival Pitt for a nationally televised dual tonight at 6PM on the Big Ten Network. Since it's big enough to broadcast live on the BTN we might as well take a look at what is in store for our 2nd-ranked Lions.

Pittsburgh Panthers
Record: 9-5
Current rank: #22
Series: PSU Leads 50-12-3
Last Season: TIE (19-19)

Penn State and Pitt battled to a frustrating 19-all tie last season when Sanderson suspended 197 pounder Clay Steadman before the dual for violating team rules,* forcing a forfeit, and heavyweight Cameron Wade was unable to wrestle after injuring himself in warm-ups. Penn State was leading 19-9 going into the last two weight classes. Needless to say that left a bad taste in their mouths because... well.. you know the old adage about sister kissing and ties. So there should be a hint of unfinished business tonight.

Probable Matchups
WeightPenn StatePitt
125#11 Brad Pataky Anthony Zanetta
133#5 Andrew LongShelton Mack
141#5 Andrew Alton#7 Tyler Nauman
149#5 Frank MolinaroDane Johnson
157#3 David TaylorDonnie Tasser
165Jake KemererEthan Headlee
174#2 Ed RuthAndy Vaughan
184#6 Quentin WrightMax Thomusseit
197Nick Ruggear#11 Zac Thomusseit
285#6 Cameron Wade#3 Ryan Tomei

-Last season Pataky came into the Pitt dual ranked 7th while Zanetta, like this season, came in unranked. Pataky jumped out to an early lead but had trouble staying off his back eventually giving up a stunning 15-9 upset. Brad's knee is still dinged up but he will be looking for revenge.
-Andrew Alton and Tyler Nauman have a past... sort of. While in high school in 2007, Tyler Nauman won the PIAA Class AAA 130-pound title while Andrew was taking 3rd but they have never met in high school or in college.
-Quentin Wright will make his return to action after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Nittany Lion Open back in early December.
-Cameron Wade will get a shot at #3 Ryan Tomei after the freak injury before last year's dual. Last season Wade and Tomei split two bouts.

As much as I'd like to hype this dual as an exciting, down to the wire thriller, I just don't see it. Best case scenario for Pitt is a pin by Thomusseit (the elder) over Ruggear at 197, regular decision wins by Headlee and Tomei at 165 and 285, and an upset by Thomusseit (the younger) over a rusty Wright at 184. That would give Pitt 15 team points. Even if that does happen, between Taylor, Long, Ruth, and Molinaro you will probably get at least a pin or two and a tech fall which would come close to beating Pitt's score alone. Throw in victories by Alton and Pataky and It just don't see Pitt pulling this one out. I'll say Penn State 30 - Pitt 10.

While we're at it, let's take a look at Indiana just for fun. Whatdahyasay??!

Indiana Hoosiers
Record: 10-3
Current rank: N/A
Series: PSU Leads 13-0-1
Last Season: did not meet

Probable Matchups
WeightPenn StateIndiana
125#11 Brad Pataky Justin Brooks
133#5 Andrew LongMatt Ortega
141#5 Andrew AltonMitchell Richey
149#5 Frank Molinaro#15 Kurt Kinser
157#3 David Taylor#5 Paul Young
165Jake KemererRyan LeBlanc
174#2 Ed RuthNick Avery
184#6 Quentin WrightEric Cameron
197Nick Ruggear#6 Matt Powless
285#6 Cameron Wade#14 Ricky Alcala

There's really not much history here Penn State has never lost to Indiana, they didn't meet last season and there weren't too many Hoosiers deep in the Big Ten or National championships so the returning starters for Penn State haven't wrestled Indiana. That and the fact that Penn State has 7 new starters since last season makes for a pretty new experience between the two teams.

With the exception of Powless at 197, this should be pretty much a clean sweep for Penn State. Wade has dominated wrestlers outside of the top ten and so has Molinaro. Oh, you're looking at that lofty #5 ranking of Paul Young against David Taylor are you?!? You think that could be a good match right? Think again. Taylor met him earlier this year in the finals of the Southern Scuffle, the result: technical fall in 4:06.

Nothing more to see here: move along.

This should be a good weekend for Penn State, they get to be on national TV and they get a nice tune up before next Sunday's rumble with hated Iowa. Quentin Wright gets a chance to get his legs back wrestling two bouts before next week's action. While the team may be focused on Pitt and Indiana, the fans are looking ahead to greeting the Hawkeyes. The game is already sold out including standing room around Rec Hall's upper track and the university has called for the first ever wrestling White Out. It should be an amazing dual.

*if you're wondering he legally drank the night of his 21st birthday. If you wrestle for Cael Sanderson there's no drinking during the season at all for any reason at all. Doesn't sound like a big deal, I know, but that's how Cael rolls.


  1. As Lehigh dumped #1 Cornell last night, PSU should be #1 when Tuesday's rankings come out.


  2. Good catch Pete I didn't see that and I would not have expected that, two big upsets and a couple major decisions was the difference for Lehigh. You're right, PSU will probably be #1.

  3. It feels like with Cael at the helm, Penn State wrestling will rival the Women's Volleyball team in terms of sustained success. I mean, it's the guy's first season as head coach, and Penn State is already poised for a No. 1 ranking.

    Can anyone dispute that this was one of the single best coaching hires in Penn State athletics history?

    Now, if only they'd go for this kind of slam dunk when JoePa retires... [sounds the dog whistle]

  4. Mike,

    Actually it's his 2nd season, his first last year they finished 9th which was a huge improvement from the old coaching staff.

    You're right though this was one of the best hires in Penn State history, that's why people were writing things like "the day the wrestling world changed" when PSU announced it. Cael has these kids buying into his mindset and if you read his blog it's hard not to.


  5. Damn, I should have known that. I guess it actually makes it more impressive that he has them now poised for No. 1. Usually--like in most sports--when a coach has huge success in year-one, it can be chalked-up to the previous coach's roster and training. (Think of Larry Coker at Miami in 2001) This being Cael's 2nd season, it's more of HIS team/program now, especially with the roster changes since he was first hired.

  6. I texted Galen not long after official news of the hire broke, think I had caught him by surprise. It certainly surprised me. Penn State was such a sleeping giant of a program given the wealth of wrestling talent in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, it's hard to believe it only has one national title to it's name.