Penn State as they've done 11 other times this year dominated two over matched opponents this weekend. The team is now off to it's best start in program history, and they are now the number 1 ranked team in the country. Of course as many of you have heard the wrestling team will have it's first ever white out this weekend as Iowa invades rec hall. I'll have a preview later in the week for what should be one of the bigger duals in recent years.
Penn State will need to wrestle their best for Iowa, something they didn't do this weekend. The team came out a bit flat this weekend especially against Pittsburgh. There were quite a few moments where mental lapses caused easy takedowns to be given up. Things tightened up a bit on Sunday but Penn State will need to be at there best against an Iowa team that will take advantage of every mistake.
Friday vs Pittsburgh
125: Eric Caschera losses by major decision
Brad Pataky apparently dinged up his knee in practice on Thursday and was unable to go. With Frank Martellotti out due to grades Penn State was forced to turn to Caschera who is a scrapy wrestler but is just not a division 1 calibur starter. And that showed as Anthony Zanetta basically had his way with him throughout the match. It would have been nice to see a bit more fight from Eric in the 3rd period to try and keep this to a regular decision. Hopefully Brad is back in the lineup soon for Penn State, although I think it's extremely unlikely we'll see him this weekend against Iowa.
133: Andrew Long won by major decision
Long got off to a bit of a slow start against Shelton Mack who was really unwilling to wrestle throughout most of the match, but he was able to turn it on late and pick up the extra team point. Long looks like he has great conditioning already which is a good sign for a kid who hasn't wrestled much this year. We'll soon see how he holds up against stiffer competition.
141: Andrew Alton wins by decision
Alton really dominated the 7th ranked wrestler in the country even if it didn't show in the score. He controlled this match from start to finish and it was never really in doubt. Andrew had some of the slickest takedowns you will see from a freshman, especially the duck under in the first period. Andrew's inability to ride on top showed in this match, but he was able to get over a minute of riding time which is a pretty good improvement as that riding time point could be big in some of his matches down the road.
149: Frank Molinaro wins by decision
As expected Dane Johnson was able to give Molinaro so problems offensively as he wrestled very defensively. It would have been nice to see Frank pick up the pace a bit more in the 2nd period to try and get more points toward the major. Or even if he had cut him loose in the first period, instead of riding him for well over two minutes. But he should be commended for fighting till the end and nearly getting the extra takedown needed as time expired.
157: David Taylor wins by tech fall
David Taylor truly is something special. I'm not sure how many times you'll see a wrestler get six takedowns in the first period. Taylor did get a bit sloppy giving up a counter takedown later in the match, which might seem to be nit picking a guy who got a tech fall. But in a match against tougher guys at this weight that could be very costly.
165: Jake Kemerer loses by decision
Kemerer shows all the signs to me of a guy whose confidence is completely shot. He actually looked pretty good against Headlee early in this match he was controlling the tie ups and dictating the pace and movement from neutral, and he was whisker away from scoring the opening takedown. But after Headlee scored on the counter takedown it was liking watching the air being taken out of a balloon. His facial expression and even his demeanor completely changed. I actually think had he got that initial takedown he likely would have won the match. He also got completely dominated on the mat and really struggled to get out from bottom, getting ridden the entire 3rd period. He's just got find a spark to get his confidence back and relight is fire a bit and that may have happened on Sunday, but I still feel he can score some points for this team at nationals if he gets going.
174: Ruth wins by fall
Ruth was another wrestler who did as was expected and got the fall but he didn't look particularly crisp. As mentioned several times he gave up an easy takedown in the second period when he clearly stopped wrestling on the edge of the mat. Again the talent difference was too great in this match for to make a difference as Ruth simply dominated the rest of the match.
184: Wright wins by decision
Quentin Wright finally returned to the Penn State lineup after over a month on the sidelines but boy was it ugly. I'll give him somewhat of a pass since he was out so long and was clearly a little unsure of how his shoulder would hold up. But this was probably the worst match I've seen Wright wrestle. On the bright side he didn't seem overly gassed or sluggish in the 3rd period. But he was all over the place, I liked the aggression, but his normally tight defense was non existent for the most part. I think you'll see him slowly tighten up and get back to form over the next month, so I'm not too worried at this point.
197: Nick Ruggear wins by decision
Thomusseit Pitt's normal 197 pounder had knee surgery earlier in the day and was out of the the lineup and Ruggear took advantage. It wasn't a very pretty match but Nick was able to use a solid early takedown and some good defense late to pick up the decision win. He doesn't seemed to be the same wrestler we saw earlier in the year who was winning matches like this convincingly. Which could be a product of his injured shoulder which he seemed to re-injure midway through the match, or possibly the long college season is just starting to wear on him.
Hwt: Cameron Wade wins by decision
Wade finally picked up a win against an opponent ranked higher than him, although it wasn't always pretty it's still a really good win. Wade was able to score on a scramble late in the first period and that proved to be the difference in the match. He was able to ride Tomei for the entire second period which was good to see, he's always been capable of riding lesser opponents so it was good to see him getting a ride going against Tomei. On the flipside the third period was a complete disaster. He got ridden for over a minute to lose his riding time point, and then he gave up a really sloppy takedown at the end of the match. You never want to see a wrestler giving up points in the final seconds of any period, especially not the 3rd. But it goes into the books as a win and that's all that really matters.
Final Score Penn State 30 Pittsburgh 7
In the end it turned into exactly what was expected Penn State putting up a lopsided blow out against an over matched opponent. But as Cael's comments illustrated after the match this wasn't really the performance the team was looking for. It's always good to hear both the coaches and the wrestlers on the same page. Especially when they're critical of a 23 point win.
Sunday vs Indiana
125: Eric Caschera loses by decision
Pataky was again out of the lineup, and Caschera again put up a scrappy performance. He did a good job keeping it to a decision but he was never really in this match.
133: Andrew Long wins by major decision
Long again put on an impressive showing and completely dominated Indiana's Ortega. This was a solid controlled performance from start to finish. I guess if you want to find one negative it was that Long fell one point shy of a tech fall, the fact that that's the only negative should tell you how dominate he was.
141: Andrew Alton wins by fall
Alton did what's he's done to weak opponents all year picking up another first period fall. His first pinning attempt failed so actually cut his opponent, and took him down to his back a second time getting the fall. That gives Andrew his 16th fall moving him into 4th all time at Penn State in single season pins. He's about to see some tough competition in the coming weeks so his chances to move up that list could be limited.
149: Frank Molinaro wins by decision
I think this match was simply a case of giving your opponent too much respect. I really think Frank could have had a major here but instead he chose to keep Kinser on the mat instead of letting him on his feet where he is most dangerous. Of course neutral is also Frank's best position so it really limited the scoring, he did amass over 3 minutes of riding time however. Frank also got a bit sloppy and gave up an early reversal in the first period. Overall it was a solid but not great performance over a dangerous opponent.
157: Taylor won by major decision
Taylor once again dominated 5th ranked Paul Young. He wasn't able to pick up the tech fall this time but this was just about as lopsided. We did get one question answered in this match and that was that Young was able to figure out Taylor a little bit. He certainly seemed to be able to stop Taylor on the mat. From neutral however Young had no answer for Taylor. Which is really a good sign, that Taylor is able to mix his offense up enough that he shouldn't be too easy to figure out and stop as these guys see him more and more.
165: Jake Kemerer wins by major decision
This performance was like night and day from his performance on Friday. Kemerer got the initial takedown and then just absolutely dominated from that point. It was good to see Kemerer get his offense going and hopefully this was a big confidence booster for him.
174: Ed Ruth wins by fall
Ruth got a takedown 6 seconds into his match and then picked up an astonishing 2 minutes and 54 seconds of riding time in the first period alone. He then picked up the pace and got the pin in the second period. His cradling ability reminds me a bit of Phil Davis, although Davis was far more of a counter/defensive wrestler than Ruth is. Also I think Ruth is far further along in his development at this point than Davis was as a freshman. Davis was a bit of a work in progress when he arrived at Penn State. But both have absolutely lethal cradles that they seemed to be able to lock up from almost any position.
184: Quentin Wright wins by fall
Wright again was a bit wild and sloppy in this match but he was a tad sharper than he was on friday night. He also had far less trouble with Cameron than I expected and was able to pick up the fall. I know some people are happy with how sloppy Wright as looked and I'm not thrilled, but I do think his more aggressive, attacking style he's come out with will serve him well. I thought at times early this season and even at times in his freshman year he became way to intent on tying up and countering shots. He has a good offense and can be successful with as shown in his win over Jay Borschel at the Big Ten tournament two years ago.
197: Nick Ruggear loses by tech fall
Not really too much to say about this one Ruggear was just simply outclassed. Not much more that can be said other than that. Penn State has really struggled far too long at this weight, basically since Phil Davis graduated. Hopefully incoming recruit Morgan McIntosh will be everything he's claimed to be and will be ready to step in next year.
Hwt: Cameron Wade wins by dec
Wade picked up his second win of the weekend over a ranked opponent, this one was in dominating fashion. Wade was again extremely tough on the top position, not only riding the entire second period but also picking up some key back points. It would have been nice to see him a little more aggressive in the first period and try and get a takedown to get out to an early lead. But it was a solid performance.
Final Score Penn State 36 Indiana 8
So as mentioned things went about as expected for Penn State in this one. They were simply far too much for an over matched Indiana squad. The team seem to get the message Cael was trying to deliver on Friday as they came out a little more crisp in this match, although I still think there is room for improvement. More importantly they got through these duals injury free and did what they needed to do and now can turn their attention to this weekends Iowa match that everyone has been talking about.
Iowa now ranked 11th will come in as the highest ranked team Penn State has faced this year. And it will be a great test for a lot of our young wrestlers who will be facing a team that will wrestle with a different intensity then what they've seen this year. The team will also be wrestling for the first time as the top ranked team in the country. Something that hasn't been the case for the program since 2008.