Wow, is probably the best way to describe the wrestling team's performance on Sunday. Taking on an Ohio State team decimated by injuries, Penn State dominated as a team and individually. Losing just one weight where Penn State's version of horror movie star Jason, Justin Ortega, managed to somehow come back to haunt wrestling fans dreams again. Make no mistake this Ohio State team in it's current state is seriously weak, however I don't think anyone could have expected Penn State putting up a near shut out, including two wins over Ohio State's best two wrestlers Ian Paddock and Colt Sponsellor.
Wrestling coaches always preach that if you want to win a match you need to win the takedown battle. Never has that been more telling than this match where Penn State held a staggering 20 4 edge in takedowns. Three of Ohio State's takedowns came in their lone win at 197 pounds. We'll find out a lot more about this Penn State team in the next few weeks than we did on Sunday, but make no mistake this was a statement win for the program, who is clearly back in at least the Big Ten title race this year.
125: Frank Martellotti wins by major decision 9 1
Another start and another dominating win for Frank. Bo Touris is clearly a pretty big step down from Ohio State's super freshman Logan Steiber whose out with injury, likely for the year, Frank did exactly what he was expected to do. Wrestling the first match of the dual it's important to set the tone for the team and Frank did exactly that. He got an early takedown in the bout and never looked back. The only negative you could possibly have is that maybe Frank should have let Touris up in the 3rd period and got a few extra takedowns to pad the lead. But in the end Frank ended with a sizable 3 minute of riding time, which gave him the margin necessary for the extra team point.
133: Bryan Pearsall upsets 10th ranked Ian Paddock 9 4
Pearsall may have been wrestling in his final dual meet for Penn State with big changes looming in January. But he certainly is going to leave with a memorable win. After wrestling tough and hanging with the higher ranked Paddock in the first two periods it looked like Pearsall was poised to put a up a respectable close decision loss to Paddock. But in the third period Pearsall took it into another gear that Paddock couldn't match. The deciding points came on a huge 5 point throw by Pearsall. But make no mistake this was no fluke he was taking it to Paddock through out the third period. If this does end up being Pearsall's last dual meet appearance it was a great one. He's certainly not the most accomplished wrestler in the Penn State lineup but you can never fault the kids effort and it was great to see it rewarded with a big win.
141: Andrew Alton wins by fall
This match like most of Andrew's this season didn't last very long just a mere 30 seconds. When you consider that he had the kid fighting off his back for at least 10 seconds you start to get an idea of how quickly Alton got the throw. It's true Andrew hasn't faced very stiff competition so far in his Penn State career but you certainly can't argue with the results. He now has 10 pins in his 13 wins this season.
149: Frank Molinaro wins by fall
Unlike Alton's win at 141 it took Frank into the third period to pick up his pin but this was a great performance. Nemec is a fairly solid wrestler and Frank absolutely man handled him. It's clear now that Frank is getting close to being back to last season's form, after an ankle injury held him back to start the year. He was hitting his high crotch/double legs with power and determination that he hasn't shown this year, and that's a welcome sight.
157: David Taylor destroys 13th ranked Colt Sponsellor 14 1
Taylor has been nothing short of amazing so far this season, and he's clearly now staked claim as a potential National Title contender in his freshman season. It's true that Sponsellor has struggled with his drop to 157 and will now be moving back up to 165 but this was a statement performance by the Penn State freshman. Taylor got the first points of the bout on a takedown 35 seconds in and never looked back. He dominated Colt in from all three positions, which is impressive since Colt is known as a pretty solid mat wrestler. I'm not sure I've ever seen a freshman redshirt or otherwise who is as good as Taylor is on the mat. Taylor piled up a staggering 5 minutes and 44 seconds of riding time in this bout that's nearly unheard of. The one negative you could take away is that it's somewhat puzzling that the coaching staff didn't have Taylor cut Colt loose in the 3rd period to try and pick up the tech fall since he was taking him down with ease throughout the bout. But that's really nitpicking.
165: Nick Fischer wins 5 1
Fischer stepped in for Jake Kemerer who apparently still isn't 100% recovered from the illness that held him out of the Lock Haven dual. Fisher once again took advantage of his opportunity and picked up a win for Penn State. This one wasn't as dramatic as his last second win over the Lock Haven, but it was great to see none the less. The depth Penn State has in the middle weights is truly amazing. Fischer controlled this bout from start to finish and though the score wasn't very lopsided the win was never really in doubt. Fischer has looked pretty good in his two dual meet appearances, and definitely is a worthwhile backup at 165 and 174.
174: Jake Kemerer picks up the forfeit for Penn State
This was expected to be an exciting match up between two ranked freshman but Ohio State's Nick Heflin failed the premeet skin check which created a hole for Ohio State. Kemerer should be back in action at the Souther Scuffle next week.
184: Ed Ruth wins 18 6
For the second straight week Ed Ruth moved up a weight class to fill in for the missing Quentin Wright. Ruth again picked up a solid win for the team. This was another bout that was never in doubt as Ruth dominated from start to finish. All of Ohio State freshman Peter Capone's points came on escapes and most were usually followed with quick takedowns by Ruth. It's nice to see Ruth has a good attitude about doing what's best for the team and doesn't seem to mind moving up a weight class. He hasn't been getting the attention of some of the other freshman but I definitely think he has all american potential. Some fans didn't appreciate his laid back style on the mat, so it's been nice to hear the coaches rave about his work ethic after the last two dual meets.
197: CJ Magrum beats Penn State's Justin Ortega 8 2
Penn State is in a weird spot at 197 Ortega beats Ruggear consistently in wrestle offs and in the room but then in actual matches that mean something Ruggear performs far better. I'm not saying Ruggear would have beat Magrum in fact I don't think he would have, but Ortega's performance was nothing short of pathetic. Ortega seems to wrestle much better in wrestle offs than in dual meets and I just don't understand it. The same was true last year as well, perhaps it's a confidence issue. Ortega's style of not doing anything and hope to counter or luck into points just isn't working. He's a huge contrast to the rest of this lineup which is made up of wrestlers who are aggressive and are get after it from start to finish. If there are any concerns that it was a size difference issue since Ortega may drop to 184, were eliminated after the match when Ohio State announced Magrum would be making the drop to 184.
Hwt: Cameron Wade wins by fall
The Ohio native Wade picked up his first win against Ohio State, and did so in dominate fashion. Again wrestling a clearly over matched opponent Wade did what he needed to do and wrapped up another quick pin. Wade has certainly looked like a completely different wrestler the past few weeks, now its time to see him produce against another top ranked wrestler.
Another solid win for the team but I think it's important to not get to carried away after this win as impressive as it was. Ohio State was down this year to begin with, and now they're missing several key starters due to injuries/failed skin check. This was a solid performance and it's good to see this team perform at high level each match. The inconsistency and let downs that were common in recent years don't seem to be present this year.
Luckily we won't have to wait too much longer to find out how good this team is. The Southern Scuffle next week is stacked with strong teams and some really quality wrestlers. Top ranked Cornell, Michigan, Minnesota and many other will be in attendance. A top three finish there will be a big statement for this team especially considering they'll still be without Long and Wright. More importantly some of our young Penn State guys will get some real tests, some for the first time this year. Below are some highlights of entrants in the tournaments. With over 60 wrestlers entered at most weights it's impossible to highlight them all but these are who's who of some of the guys Penn State's best will run into at the tournament.
Currently Brad Pataky and Frank Martellotti are entered at 125 so we could be getting close to see Pataky back in the lineup. This would be a tough way to come back for Pataky with wrestlers like Nick Bedelyon, Zach Sanders, and Ben Kjar entered among many others.
At 141 Andrew Alton will finally get a chance against some top ranked wrestlers with 1st ranked Kellen Russel, Chris Villonga and Mike Thorn all entered in the tournament. Adam Lynch is also entered at this weight for Penn State.
Frank Molinaro will have a chance to make a big statement with returning national champions Darrion Caldwell and Kyle Dake entered. Penn State also has James English entered at this weight.
Ed Ruth could run into to top ranked NCAA runner up Mack Lewnes and 2nd ranked Chris Henrich.
It should be a challenging two days for the team, but we'll know a lot more about the team after this is over. But as a word of caution it's important to remember it's still December, what happens is March is all that really matters for this team. And in case there is any confusion Penn State and many other teams will enter more than 10 wrestlers in the tournament. But only 10 wrestlers who the coaches must select before the tournament starts will count toward the team score. Although it's important the other guys wrestle well also as while they won't count toward the team score if they knock off guys from the other top teams they can keep those teams from scoring more points.