Yes in some sort of sports bizzaro world the Penn State wrestling team will compete against Pitt for the 2nd straight year. In a strange twist Penn State's last result against Pittsburgh and Indiana were both 19 - 19 ties. Penn State should improve on both of those results this weekend.
This marks a big weekend for Penn State as they return from a weekend off and start making the final push towards the Big Tens and NCAAs. These matches should be good tests for Penn State two solid teams but two very beatable teams. Most fans and even the collegian are already talking about the Iowa match looming on the horizon. Hopefully the team remains focussed and doesn't get caught looking ahead to that match next week. As both Pittsburgh and Indiana are quality teams who will take advantage if Penn State doesn't bring their best.
For those of you who don't know the Pittsburgh match will air live on the Big Ten Network on Friday at 6 pm. If you haven't gotten a chance to see the wrestling team this year I highly recommend checking it out. It should be a good showcase for a lot of Penn State's young wrestlers that you've been reading about so much the past year. And for those of you wrestling fans out there take note that it's actually a double header of wrestling on the BTN with Nebraska vs Wisconsin following at 8 pm. Unfortunately Andrew Howe is out so we won't get to see a rematch with Jordan Burroughs, rumor is Howe maybe finished for the year. Follow after the break for previews and predictions of each match.
Friday vs #22 Pittsburgh
125: #11 Brad Pataky vs Anthony Zanetta
Brad is now the guy at 125 due to Martellotti being ineligible for the remainder of the season, hopefully his knee will hold up. This is a match on paper Pataky should win easily but Zanetta upset Pataky in last year's dual which was the key in the tie. Pataky struggled in the Southern Scuffle but looked much much better at the Virginia Duals. He should have no problems with Zanetta and I think he exacts some revenge this year at home.
Pataky by dec
133: #5 Andrew Long vs Shelton Mack
Long got off to a great start in his Penn State debut going undefeated at the Virginia Duals. Long wasn't really tested in that tournament and that won't really change this week. Which is welcome since he is still essentially a few months behind everyone in terms of competition.
Long by maj dec
141: #5 Andrew Alton vs #7 Tyler Nauman
This is probably the feature match of the night and it should be a good one. Both wrestlers come in with 2 losses on the year. Nauman was ranked as high as 4th this season and should be a really good test for Alton. Should Alton win it would clearly be the best win of his young career, Nauman is a good experienced college wrestler he picked up his 100th win earlier this season. Nauman has been winning a lot of tight matches this year, which could be a sign he's struggling some but also could be problems for Alton. Andrew has some impressive wins on his resume but has yet to really pull out a real tight win, as the two losses to Russell show. I think this is a real toss up bout, and really could go either way, definitely a bout where the first takedown will be crucial. I'd like to go with Nauman's experience, but I'm going to go with Alton at home where he has looked really tough all year.
Alton by dec
149: #5 Frank Molinaro vs Dane Johnson
Johnson is a solid freshman for Pittsburgh and had a pretty good high school career at Shady Side Academy, he'll provide a good test for Molinaro. But I don't think Frank should have too many problems getting the win here. I would be really surprised to see Frank pick up bonus points at this weight however, as Frank tends to struggle with guys who consistently move backwards as Pitt likes to do.
Molinaro by dec
157: #2 David Taylor vs Donnie Tasser
Taylor continues to just tear through competition this year, at this point only one of his wins was by regular decision. Look for that streak to continue against Tasser who is solid but Taylor is just in a different league at this point.
Taylor by tech fall
165: Jake Kemerer vs Ethan Headlee
I think Kemerer will get the start for the Nittany Lions after saying the spot was up for grabs at the Virginia Duals Cael has been talking Jake up a lot the past week. Hopefully putting some confidence into the freshman who truly is having a decent freshman season. It easy to look down on him because of the way the other freshman are wrestling, and Jake is certainly capable of better, but he's had a decent season so far. Headlee will be a really tough opponent for Jake, he's a solid experienced wrestler, and he'll be dropping from 174 so he should be a fairly big 165 pounder something Jake has struggled with this year. I'm hopeful we'll start to see Jake make a big push here late and get himself back into the rankings, but I just have a feeling this is a bad match up for him.
Headlee by dec
174: #2 Ed Ruth vs Andy Vaughan
This should be a cake walk for Ruth hopefully we will see him wrestle like it, and not have a mental lapse like he had against Kent St at the Virginia Duals.
Ruth by tech fall
184: #6 Quentin Wright vs Max Thomusseit
Wright will finally return to the mat for the Nittany Lions after getting injured at the Nittany Lion Open. Max will provide a good test for him in his return, but this is definitely a match Quentin should win. It will be interesting to see how Quentin looks he looked a tad sluggish early in the year before the injury and could be a little timid while he tests out his shoulder.
Wright by dec
197 Nick Ruggear/Justin Ortega vs #11 Zac Thomusseit
Nick Ruggear will also likely return to the lineup for the Nittany Lions, which as we've seen is a small upgrade over Justin Ortega but still a weak spot for Penn State. The older Thomusseit is pretty tough and I think he's a legit All American contender this season. He'll have no problems with whoever Penn State sends out there.
Thomusseit by maj dec
Hwt #6 Cameron Wade vs #3 Ryan Tomei
Wade took advantage of the week off to move up in the rankings. Wade didn't wrestle Tomei in last years dual as Wade suffered and ankle injury in the pre match warm ups. That injury caused Brian Herlihy to be put in the line up, and Tomei was able to pick up a major decision to tie the dual. It'd be nice if Wade could exact some revenge this time around but I just don't see it happening. Wade still has yet to knock off anyone ranked above him and I think in a relatively weak weight class Tomei has a shot a national title this year for Pittsburgh.
Tomei by dec
Final Score Penn State 26 Pitt 10
A little tighter match than some might expect, but I think there is potential for Penn State to turn this into a one sided rout. And if Pitt is able to pick up wins at 125 and 141 which isn't out of the question this match could get very close. Either way it's definitely worth tuning into on Friday night.
Sunday vs Indiana
125: #11 Brad Pataky vs Justin Brooks
Pataky should have no problems with Brooks who is a sizeable step down from Angel Escobedo Indiana's star 125 pound wrestler from years past. Pataky upset Escobedo in the dual two years ago. Expect Pataky to pick up a big win here, I'd watch for an early cement mixer. Martellotti beat Brooks 10 0 at the Southern Scuffle earlier this year.
Pataky by fall
133: #5 Andrew Long vs Matt Ortega
Ortega should be no match for Long who will continue to ease his way into the lineup. This is his last "tuneup" before the Iowa dual so hopefully he continues to impress.
Long by maj dec
141 #5 Andrew Alton vs Mitchell Richey
Alton will get a big of a reprieve after matches against two top ten guys back to back. I expect him to blow through fellow freshman Richey.
Alton by fall
149: #5 Frank Molinaro vs #15 Kurt Kinser
Kinser has tumbled down the rankings in recent weeks and maybe finally in his senior season people are starting to realize he's just simply not a great wrestler. He's been perennially over rated in the past few years, he's a solid Division 1 wrestler but clearly not a top ten guy. His offense is way to reliant on throws from the neutral position. Frank should beat him with no problems. I expect a few big takedowns from Frank and a lot of riding time built up in this one. This is just simply a great style match up for Frank unlike Friday nights bout.
Molinaro by maj dec
157: #2 David Taylor vs #5 Paul Young
This should be the feature match since it's two top five guys but Taylor has already destroyed Young this season in an 18 to 2, 4 minute tech fall at the Southern Scuffle. This will provide an interesting test though to see if once guys see Taylor once they can start to figure him out. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Young keep things closer this time, but I have a feeling Taylor is just too much for him and why go against history.
Taylor by tech fall
165: Jake Kemerer vs Ryan LeBlanc
These are guys Kemerer absolutely has to start beating especially as the Big Ten tournament nears he should really be putting up bonus points as well but right now we'll start with getting the win. LeBlanc did wrestle tough against Minnesota however so by no means is this a sure win for Penn State.
Kemerer by dec
174: #2 Ed Ruth vs Nick Avery
Avery comes into the match with a losing record and this one could be really ugly. I expect it to be over fairly quickly.
Ruth by fall
184: #6 Quentin Wright vs Eric Cameron
Wright shouldn't have any problems with Eric Cameron. Former Penn Stater got a tech fall against Cameron that saved the dual for Penn State two years ago.
Wright by maj dec
197 Nick Ruggear/Justin Ortega vs #6 Matt Powles
Again no matter who Penn State sends out at this weight it will be a complete mismatch. Powles should win handily and I wouldn't be surprised to see a fall here for Indiana.
Powles by maj dec
Hwt #6 Cameron Wade vs #14 Ricky Alcala
This actually will likely be the "best" bout of the dual certainly going in it looks likes the closest. This could quickly turn into a typical heavyweight slug fest however with very little action. Either way I think Wade has enough to pull out a close win for Penn State. I wouldn't be too terribly surprised to see this one go to overtime. Alcala it should be noted transfered to Indiana after Cal State Bakersfield discontinued it's wrestling program.
Wade by dec
Team Score Penn State 41 Indiana 4
I think this Indiana team is just too young and doesn't have enough talent to match up with Penn State. It also hurts that two of their better wrestlers happen to fall at two of Penn State's better weights. This should be a good final prep before Penn State hits the meat of the dual meet schedule the next couple of weeks.