The Penn State wrestling team was in action twice this weekend and managed a weekend split.
The good news is the beat Illinois for the first time in 50+ years. The bad news, frankly, they wrestled like crap.
They stormed out to a surprising 18-0 lead on Friday against Illinois before coasting to a 24-11 final. Sunday, they looked like they never got off the bus and got beat, 21-14. Was the score better than last year? Sure. Was the wrestling better? Definitely not.
125: Pataky went 2 - 0 on the weekend but was rather uninspiring in the process. He beat John Deenan of Illinois 7-3 on Friday and Nikko Triggas 9-7 on Sunday. Pataky SHOULD be much better than both guys but he sure didn't look like it. The Triggas match was so sloppy I felt like I was watching to elementary school kids go at it. I know Triggas likes to try big moves but Brad should be better than that. Brad's a 5th year Junior now I'm tired of waiting for him to turn the corner. All you read about in the offseason is how focused he is, and yet he still wrestles like a freshman. I think only once this year has he wrestled smart for the entire match and the was the win over Garnett at the Virginia Duals. He's become far to enamored with trying to hit a big move, there's a reason guys like Kinser are always ranked high but never see the podium in march. Smart wrestling will be uncontrolled craziness 9 times out of 10.
133: Pearsall picked up his first Big Ten win in a bit of an upset on Friday and then was embarrassed by Ian Paddock on Sunday. Even in the win, Pearsall didn't impress, although I won't argue with a win for a kid who clearly shouldn't be a big ten starter. But he completely gassed in the 3rd period, actually frankly he started to slow in the second period. I honestly thought he was gonna lose it late but he hung. His conditioning looked terrible but when you're getting pinned constantly I guess that's tough to work on. His effort Sunday was extremely disappointing, Paddock is good, but Pearsall made him look like the next Cael Sanderson. From start to finish he showed no fight at all, luckily Paddock got sloppy going for a tech at the end Pearsall literally fell into a reversal to salvage a team point.
141: Lynch also went 1 - 1 on the weekend he got the biggest upset of the weekend when he caught and pinned Prater from Illinois. Lynch was wrestling tough before that, and he's shown a tremendous ability to scramble and finish when he catches someone near their back. Against Humphrey he was clearly over matched, but the effort was still disappointing. It looked like he basically quit mid way through the second. Also how many times can you get caught flat footed against a kid whose best move is a duck under.
149: Molinaro also split the weekend he picked up a decent win against Terrazas of Illinois but frankly he should have gotten bonus points in that bout. Multiple times this weekend he had deep single leg shots that he failed to finish, that needs to improve if he wants to have any chance to all american at this weight. Then he lost a close hard fought bout with Palmer at Ohio State. It was a decent effort although the quick reversal to start the 3rd was inexcusable. Also while the ref was at best inconsistent, and should have hit Palmer for stalling the Big Ten announcers were absolutely right during the broadcast Frank needs to be smart enough to do something else. Sure Palmer shouldn't be allowed to hang on your leg but don't try to get the ref to wrestle the match for you mix it up once in awhile. This match should also provide him with a clear picture he needs to do a better job creating angles on his shots. While he has the strength to get that quick blast double on most guys it's not happening on strong 149 lbers like Palmer. And if he didn't get the picture yet he will this weekend against Metcalf and Ruschell.
157: Sanderson won both matches this weekend but much like Pataky wasn't overwhelming in either. The match against Polz was extremely disappointing it was like he stopped wrestling after the second period. The Johnson match was the sloppiest I've ever seen him wrestle. He didn't look particularly sharp against either guy, unfortunately there really isn't anyone who can test him in the big ten so he'll likely get away with until NCAAs.
165: Dan Vallimont also lost his marquee bout of the weekend against Sponsellor, he did manage to pick up a pretty solid win on Friday night. The match against Barczak of Illinois was good although it was disappointing to not get the major when he had a minute and half to get a takedown. He like Molinaro needs to do a better job of creating angles on his shots, if a guy like Barczak has no problem blocking you off for over a minute you are going to have problems. The Sponsellor match was a huge disappointment, hopefully history repeats itself and he is able to get revenge at the Big Tens. There is no excuse for getting ridden out the entire 3rd period, he's been 5 years you'd think he would have learned some offense from the bottom position by now. He'll get two more big tests this weekend he really needs to get at least one win to get some momentum going into the end of the season.
174: Ortega dropped both matches this weekend, I don't want to say much since I know he's wrestling with a heart problem, but it might be time to sit him down. He has looked horrible of late, he made Rella look like a national title contender against Ohio State. It's clear the energy just isn't there, the offense just isn't there, this is pretty much a complete mess at this point.
184: Erwin split the weekend, although he didn't get to wrestle Pucillo of Ohio State which would have been a good match for him. The match against Ohio State is hardly worth mentioning as Pucillo's replacement was terrible. The match against Dergo was a great match until the end. Erwin thought the match was over at the end of regulation, not sure if he though he won or lost, but it wasn't over. I would hope he thought he won since he didn't take any shots the final minute and half. Over time was extremely disappointing as he gave the deciding takedown way to easily. He's certainly come along way but he still has a long way to go and not much time left to do it.
197: Doesn't seem to matter who Penn State puts out at this weight both results were about the same. Steadman and Crowell both lost by decision. If you're looking for positive they managed to hold it to a decision. There weren't many positives other than that, neither guy did much offensively.
Hwt: Wade did what he was supposed to do he won both matches with relative ease. Now it's time to take the next step he needs to learn how to finish a match, he could have had a major in both matches but failed both times. The 3rd period against Morrison was particularly bad as he gave up two takedowns in the final period.
Overall, Cael pretty much summed it up with his post match remarks both nights, the effort just isn't there. I'm gonna try to avoid going off the deep end like the Michigan State radio guy, but this isn't going to be pretty.
This team, like years past, talks about being tougher and fighting but there is no fight. They didn't just get out wrestled by Ohio State, they were out worked. And Cael is right that match was there for the taking and Penn State showed no desire to go out and get it. I'm still waiting for the supposed "Cael Sanderson Effect" to take place because frankly this is the same team the got Troy Sunderland run out of town last year. Now I know you have to let Cael get his guys in here and give him time, I'm not calling for his head, yet. I'm tired of talking about how good they're gonna be next year, because frankly I'm starting to wonder.
You have 4 guys in this lineup that shouldn't be starters at a major college program, their losses are to be expected. But the other guys, the ones that are supposed to be the cornerstones of next years greatness, aren't doing much better. Year after year after year this team sucks from the bottom position. Honestly the whole team might need to start taking neutral, because they aren't getting out. From top to bottom the team sucked in the third period this weekend. You have guys who just frankly aren't wrestling smart. Pataky and Sanderson were going out there with reckless abandon from some of the lesser wrestlers that would be a good thing, but for guys with their talent that unnecessary and poor.
For the 2nd time this year we had a guy who didn't know the score at the end of the match, is our mat awareness that bad that we have no sense of what the situation is in the match. That would certainly explain a lot. There's still no killer instinct on this team at all from top to bottom. Last week there was an article in the Collegian about how Cael was teaching everyone to be tougher and go out there and push people around for 7 minutes. It's funny because they wrote essentially the same article about Troy Sunderland last year, and yet again it seems to be falling on deaf ears. There's only so much a coach can do and it has to be frustrating. It's on the wrestlers now they need to wake up and get after it. Troy Sunderland is probably sitting back drinking a beer and smiling right that he no longer has to deal with this.
As a final complaint, what was with the bench during the Ohio State match? The Ohio State guys were into every match, every time you saw the Penn State bench it looked like they were actually wrestling at 10 when the BTN aired the match, and ready for bed. I know it's tough losing consistently but get fired up. A few of those matches were huge individual matches. During the Vallimont match it looked like our bench was watching a funeral.
This weekend they head to Carver Hawkeye arena to take on top-ranked Iowa, and then head to Wisconsin on Sunday. Honestly, I'll be happy if they win more than 1 match against Iowa -- they're in for the beating of a lifetime. And if they thought the officiating was bad at Ohio State they haven't seen anything yet. The Wisconsin match is a winnable one if they come out with some fight, but even that one will likely be a pretty big struggle. Two guys in particular are in for big weekends. Molinaro takes on #1 Metcalf Friday night and #2 Kyle Ruschell against Wisconsin. Vallimont takes on #5 Ryan Morningstar and #1 Andrew Howe.