Penn State did as expected and won the weaker than normal Virginia duals with ease this weekend. With no Oklahoma or Oklahoma St the tournament field lacked any real challenges. The toughest test appeared to be a rematch with Lehigh who Penn State beat in a close dual earlier this year. Lehigh hampered by injuries struggled at the tournament and fell to 4th after upset loses to Michigan and Kent State.
This weekend did have one positive side effect for the Nittany Lions as two weight classes appear to be finally settled. Brad Pataky started all 4 matches and will likely be the starter for the remainder of the season at 125. This shouldn't really come as a surprise to many long time fans as Pataky has a real shot at an All American finish this year if healthy. Frank Martellotti while impressive hasn't really wrestled to that level yet this season in my opinion. New Nittany Lion Andrew Long wrestled all four matches at 133, and has likely locked down the weight. It was later released that he did beat Bryan Pearsall 10 3 in a wrestle off in the room this week. This again shouldn't be much of a surprise since Long is coming off a national runner up finish a year ago.
On the opposite side of that it appears that the 165 pound weight class may now be up for grabs. Jake Kemerer struggled again this weekend. James Vollrath stepped in for two of the matches but didn't exactly seize the opportunity as he struggled in a winnable match against Michigan. I have a feeling this one will likely be unsettled for most of the remainder of the season.
Overall Penn State wrestled well this weekend with the exception of the Kent St match. Penn State looked a bit sloppy in that match, especially Ed Ruth and Cameron Wade. The team has enough talent to get by with matches like this at this point but those lapses could be costly against the Big Ten's best and in the post season. The team did seem to bounce back nicely and appeared a lot more focused in the final against Michigan. The team gets a much needed break now to get healthy before returning to face Pitt live on the Big Ten network on the 21st. Continue after the jump for a breakdown of how each weight fared this weekend.
125: As mentioned Brad Pataky got all four starts this weekend and he looked leaps and bounds better than he did at the southern scuffle. Obviously you need to look no further than this finals match against Sean Boyle who beat Pataky by major decision at the scuffle, this week Pataky nearly beat Boyle by major decision. He likely would have had the major decision if he hadn't reinjured his knee. Boyle shot in on a nice double leg and Pataky's right knee hit the mat awkwardly. Brad was clearly in a good deal of pain I wasn't sure he would be able to continue as he was struggling to put any weight on his right leg. He got a bit of a break that his nose was also bleeding which gave him a little bit of extra time to recover. You certainly can't question's Brad's heart, but I think every fan has to be concerned how his knee will hold up over the final few months. He did seem to recover quickly and was putting weight on his leg and seemed to be in his normal stance in the 3rd period. His pin over Bedelyon in the semifinals was impressive, Nic is a tough wrestler and a bad matchup style wise for Pataky. The bout was tied 2 2 at the time of the fall although Bedelyon had 2 minutes and 30 seconds of riding time, but Pataky did appear to be holding his own.
133: Andrew Long wasn't really tested against any high ranked wrestlers this weekend but he appears to be every bit as good as advertised. His most impressive win probably came in the quarterfinals against Eric Morrill. Morrill is a solid wrestler and after a crazy first period that ended 9 6, Long cruised to a 17 7 major decision. Long also picked up a major decision in the final giving the team an extra team point that could have been very critical.
141: Andrew Alton had another impressive weekend picking up his 15th pin of the season against Kent St which is nearly unheard of for a freshman wrestler. Of course everyone will look to his 2nd loss to top ranked Kellen Russel, and again it was another solid effort in the defeat. Andrew came out very aggressive in the first period and there were some great flurries between the two wrestlers although neither could secure a takedown. Russel's deciding point came by virtue of riding time when he rode Alton for all but about 15 seconds in the 3rd period. Again as was the problem a week ago Andrew's mat wrestling really hurt him in this bout. Last week it was his inability to ride Russel after getting the go ahead takedown this week it was his inability to get out in the 3rd period that cost him. I think Andrew is close but his mat wrestling will have to improve before he can take the next step. I honestly still think he has a ways to go before beating Russel who has established himself as the man to be at 141 this year. Alton should get plenty of good work in the room though, as both Molinaro and Taylor are really strong from the top position. I'm interested to see how Alton does against some of the other top ten guys. Especially Jimmy Kennedy of Illinois whose strength is neutral that should be a really good match up and a great test for Alton.
I'd also like to give mention to Adam Lynch who didn't travel with the team this week. Instead he got in a car with his grandfather and made the drive down to the Virginia duals. Cael rewarded him by allowing him to sit on the bench with the team on Saturday. For those of you who don't know Lynch was a surprise starter last season and had a really strong year. He had planned to leave but decided to come back for his fifth season after meeting with the coaching staff. He then lost his starting spot to Andrew Alton, but instead of sulk he has taken on a real senior leadership role. Which is greatly needed on this young team. It's easy to get caught up with all the big name recruits, but guys like Lynch are what Penn State sports is all about.
149: If there was any question about Frank being back to form they're now gone. He had another solid weekend, the only thing that really held him back was his opponents unwillingness to really wrestle against him. His 6 2 win against Eric Grajales was a tad dissapointing as Penn State who was not favored in many of the heavier weights may have needed bonus points there. But again Grajales was extremely defensive for most of the match.
157: I'm running out of adjectives to describe David Taylor, he's by far the best Penn State freshman I've seen in a long time. And is right there with top freshman from at least the past decade. He's got a motor that seems to never stop, and always looks in complete control out there. Unfortunately his match with Bubba Jenkins never materialized and we'll have to wait till NCAAs if it happens at all. Taylor likely won't really be tested again until NCAAs as most of the other top 157 pound guys are outside of the Big Ten.
165: As mentioned this weight is really unsettled, and was really disappointing. Kemerer picked up a really sloppy 6 5 decision against VMI and lost by decision against Kent St. Vollrath fared slightly better picking up a major decision against Edinboro but then losing 7 2 against Michigan. Both the loses were extremely dissapointing as they were against guys that are certainly beatable. Vollrath was wrestling up a weight and he is coming off a strong southern scuffle performance, but he really didn't look good against Michigan and seemed to really wear down in the 3rd period. Kemerer really has the pedigree that he should be better than he's wrestling right now. He seems really hesitant to pull the trigger on offense. He was always a guy more defensive counter oriented wrestler in high school but he really seems to have lost all confidence in his offense. Hopefully Penn State can find someone to step up and take control of the spot by the post season. I think it's extremely unlikely Cowburn will burn his redshirt and start wrestling this year, even though most fans would like to see him wrestle. With Cael's willingness to wrestle true freshman this year, I have doubts that Cowburn is beating Kemerer in the room or else I think we would have seen him already this year.
174: Ed Ruth had his first action ranked 2nd in the country and it got off to a good start. He picked up a huge pin that basically sealed the final against Michigan. His semifinal match against Kent State was extremely sloppy, he gave up several takedowns that were decent shots but shots that he would normally stop. He looked very flat footed and distracted. He seemed much sharper in his finals bout against Michigan. But he needs to learn especially now that his name is out there everyone will be gunning for him, and he needs to bring his best to every match.
184: Luckily Quentin Wright should be back for Penn State's next match as this weight was a huge liability without him. It's clear Andrew Church is not ready to wrestle at this level. Nick Fischer should get some credit although he lost both matches he wrestled, he bumped up from 165 all the way to 184, which would be tough in high school let alone division 1 college wrestling. Fischer wrestled well but it was clearly a tall task, his ability to keep both losses to a decision showed a lot of heart and was a commendable effort.
197: Justin Ortega returned to the lineup for injured Nick Ruggear, and shockingly he not only won a match he scored a whole 8 points. That may be more than he's scored the entire rest of the year. All joking aside he went 1 and 3 and gave up 2 pins. It's clear from what the coaches say that it appears Ruggear has a pretty good hold on this spot.
Hwt: Cameron Wade had a mixed weekend. I really don't think he's a top ten heavyweight at this point but he'll likely continue to be ranked up there. His consistency is his main problem, against VMI he wrestled their only ranked wrestler 14th ranked Josh Wine and won a convincing 7 3 decision. He won his second match with a quick first period fall. His third match came against 13th ranked Brendan Barlow, and Wade looked absolutely terrible, it was like he had reverted to his form from the past two seasons. I think it's clear lighter more athletic heavyweights like Barlow are always going to give Wade problems. But the lunging from way too far away and giving up easy counter takedowns was something I though he had stopped. It should be noted that his elbow was injured in the VMI match although I don't think that really had much of a role. In the final match he wrestled Ben Apland from Michigan who he beat in ride out the week before. This week he won a solid and very controlled 3 0 decision. It seems like as was the case last year Wade is on the verge of taking the next step he just hasn't done it yet.