The Big Ten tournament turned out to be pretty disappointing for Penn State. They only managed to get 6 guys through to NCAAs, and they only had two guys wrestle above their seed. One of the two was Cyler Sanderson, Penn State's only Big Ten champion. He managed to win a Big Ten title without wrestling a single ranked wrestler. That has to be some sort of record.
125: Brad Pataky was seeded 4th and finished 4th and it was incredibly unimpressive. He got beat easily by Escobedo in the semifinals which was to be expected, but his consolation final bout was an absolute train wreck. He was holding a 9 3 lead late in the second period before giving up a 4 pt moved at the end of the period to make it 9 7. He then went on to lose in overtime 13 11. Sanders is good but I don't care who you're wrestling you have to be smart enough to not give up a 6 pt lead with barely over one period to wrestle. Truthfully that was the most disappointing aspect of the weekend, Penn State seemed to lose the 3rd period in nearly every match. Huge leads suddenly turned into nail bitters repeatedly. Even the matches that Penn State won they struggled in the 3rd to put it away. I still think Brad can make a run at being an all american in a week and a half but he'll have to wrestle much better than he did this weekend. The final at 125 was one of the better ones, although I think Escobedo is just simply better then McDonough at this point, I can't see McDonough beating Escobedo this year. I'd say Escobedo looks like a strong candidate to be the favorite heading into NCAAs. Especially with Nickerson's health always a question.
133: Bryan Pearsall went 0 - 2 as expected. He put up a decent fight in both bouts but his days as a starter are pretty much over. During the radio broadcast it was mentioned that Sherlock's rehab is on pace for him to be wrestling again in July which gives him plenty of time to get ready for next year. The final at 133 was also decent with Ness knocking off Dennis. Like Escobedo I think Ness is probably the favorite right now for Nationals. Although I wouldn't rule out Dennis he just needs to get more offense going if he's going to win a title.
141: Adam Lynch had a disappointing end to his Penn State career finishing two spots below his seed. With Prater from Illinois not making weight it meant the Big Ten was down to 4 automatic qualifiers at 141, but it also meant that Lynch got a bye into the semifinals after winning his first bout. He started out well with a major decision in his first bout. But then things took a turn for the worse. He got majored in his next two bouts against Humphrey and Archuletta, and then gave lost a tech fall against Schmidt from Wisconsin. The Schmidt loss was a hard one to swallow since Lynch beat him just a few weeks ago. Losing that bout all but assures he won't get a wild card bid when they're announced later today. The final at 141 was one of the biggest surprises of the tournament outside of 149. I really thought Humphrey was poised to win a national title this year, and he still might. But Thorn looked pretty good he had a great tournament and he's definitely now in the National Title mix. This will be a tough weight class to predict, with the top seed likely going to true freshman Kyle Dake of Cornell. You never know how a true freshman is going to handle their first NCAA tournament.
149: Molinaro wrestled to his seed but like Pataky the end was pretty disappointing. Frank actually managed to hang with Metcalf for a while in their semifinal bout, but Metcalf start to break Frank down by the end of the second period and put it away early in the 3rd. He was then beating Ruschell in the consi finals before getting caught and pinned. It would have been really nice to have seen him beat Ruschell to end the tournament on the high note. He still has a great chance at a high finish at Nationals, but a championship is at least a year away. The final at 149 was a dandy, with Palmer finally beating Metcalf after what seems like about 100 matches between the two. This one had plenty of drama, you know it's good when both sides are complaining about the officiating. Most of it stems from Palmer not getting an escape which led to a locked hands call on Metcalf. And a stalling call against Metcalf when he stood up while Palmer was riding legs( both of which were the correct calls). Ohio State fans can complain about the stalemate that was called when Palmer had Metcalf broken completely flat and was laying with his head on the mat and his arms curled up underneath him. It wasn't the worst call in the world, but that one was a little questionable. The scramble at the end that led to the five point move for Palmer should have been stalemated by most officials but the ref did a good job letting the guys wrestle out of it. It will be pretty interesting to see who gets the top seed at NCAAs, I think you could make a pretty good case for both guys at this point. I'm not sure how much it will really matter both seem to be the clear top two in this weight class. I'm sure Metcalf will bounce back fine from the loss I'm more interested to see how Palmer looks at Nationals. He now knows he can beat Metcalf the question is will he be able to stay focused on his lesser opponents and not get tripped up at Nationals.
157: Cyler did about what was expected in winning the Big Ten title with no Schlatter in the field. He did manage to finish above seed but the seeding in this weight was a joke since Salazaar got the top seed despite not being ranked. But his road to the title was from from impressive, he didn't exactly face top opposition and he wasn't particularly sharp in any of his matches. With Schlatter injured who knows how he'll look at Nationals, I think this weight could be won by any one of a handful of guys including Sanderson, but he'll need to wrestle far better than he did this past weekend. Anthony Jones Jr. from Michigan St had a surprisingly good tournament he could be someone to watch out for at the NCAAs I don't think he'll win it but he could be an all american contender. Of course two of his wins came against Kurt Kinser who I've thought was over rated all year.
165: Dan Vallimont was the only Penn Stater to finish above seed, finishing 3rd. He probably had the best weekend of any Penn State wrestler he wrestled a very tight match with eventual champ Andrew Howe. He got a late takedown that likely would have been the difference in the win over Morningstar unfortunately Morningstar got injured during the takedown or shortly after and the match was stopped. I think he could still be a factor at the NCAAs it really could come down to where he gets seeded and how the bracket falls. I'm not sure if he can beat Howe it seems Howe is simply too strong and doesn't let Vallimont get as much circular movement that he needs to set up his offense. But I wouldn't bet against Dan's ability to beat anyone else at this weight. The final at this weight was a bit of a snoozer. Howe knows what he needs to do to win and does it, he's certainly a talented wrestler but he's not exactly a joy to watch. But he's probably a heavy favorite to win it all next week.
174 Ortega went two and done as expected and was never really in either match. It will be interesting to see how things fall next year for Penn State it seems like most of the talent is dividing between 184 and up and 165 and down so there's a chance he could end up with the starting job again. The final wasn't too bad at this weight it looks like Borschel is really starting to put it all together this year. He was dominant in his win over Glasser.
184: Dave Erwin had a somewhat disappointing Big Ten tournament finishing 4th after being seeded 2nd. His two losses came to Keddy and Pucillo to pretty big names in years past who both don't seem to be as strong this year. Erwin has shown that he can hang with some of the better guys in the country at some point he needs to start beating them. He didn't seem particularly sharp, he's frequently struggled in the Big Ten tournament and his comments after the tournament seem to suggest that might have been on his mind. He kept mentioning how relieved he was to get through the tournament. I still think he has an outside shot at becoming an all american next week but he'll have to get some upsets along the way. The final here went about as expected with Dergo beating Keddy. Dergo has put together a really strong senior season, but overall the Big Ten which seemed loaded in talent at this weight has been a tad disappointing this year.
197: Clay Steadman lost to the 4 and 6 seeds in his only two matches in the tournament. With either Wright or Platt taking his spot next year his time as a starter is likely over. People in the program continue to rave about his work ethic but the results never really showed up on the scoreboard. Brandvold took home the title, in a workmanlike 3 1 win over Sonny Yohn. Not sure how much of a factor either guy will be at nationals. I don't think the Big Ten has any true title contenders at this weight.
Hwt: Cameron Wade provided the most excitement of the tournament but for all the wrong reasons. His wrestling was dismal at best. His two loses came to Erekson and Bugenhagen. He beat Bugenhagen earlier this season so that loss was extremely disappointing. The match against Erekson he only took one real shot and it caused a minor riot at is it came a second after the whistle. I guess you could credit him with another shot if you count the time at the end of the match where he practically laid down on the mat and let Erekson go around for an easy counter takedown. The more I watch Wade wrestle the more I hope Platt stays at heavyweight for next year. He's dropped all the way to 20th in the recent intermat rankings and I still think that might be generous. The final at heavyweight was surprisingly exciting with Erekson getting a big move early and then hanging on against Everhart. I've been doubting Everhart all year but he actually looked pretty solid after the initial big move he gave up. I would be interested in seeing these two guys go at it again.
Penn State finished in 5th place after being as high as 2nd at one point in the tournament. The never figured to be much of a factor in the team race but I don't think anyone is too happy with the results. The Saturday afternoon session was brutal, as was the wrestling in the 3rd period. Looking ahead to nationals I think they still have a few guys who can score big points for the team. I think a good tournament for them would be a top ten finish. Which would be a huge improvement over last year and a big step in the right direction for next season.
Nationals could have a pretty interesting team race Iowa is clearly still the favorite but I'm not sure they're as heavy a favorite as they once were. Morningstar says he's going to give it a go but no one knows for sure how well he'll be able to wrestle or how long. Beatty lost an overtime match to Yohn and then injury defaulted out of the tournament so it's still tough to predict where he'll be at next week. Montell Marion didn't look all that impressive at 141 but he has been pretty hot and cold all year and could heat up again next week. With all the question marks I think Iowa may have come back to the field a little bit. It will take a great tournament by Oklahoma State, who upset Iowa St for the Big 12 tournament title, Iowa St, or Cornell to take the team title away, but it at least seems as if the door has opened a crack. Ohio State could also make some noise but I just don't think they have the guns they used to have. Although Humphrey and Palmer are clear title contenders.
A lot has been made of the Cael Sanderson Tom Brands shouting match during the Erekson Wade match. It's clear the two have a pretty strong dislike for each other. This is a feud that should get pretty interesting the next few years as Penn State starts to compete at Iowa's level. Jeff Byers began to ask Cael about it in his interview after the finals. He started to question about Brands coming after him, Cael cut him off laughed and said "Not gonna happen that would be like a bug fighting a windshield." Should be fun to watch these to go head to head. It's nice to have a coach show a little bit of fire for a change, but is also able to stay composed on the sideline.