Over the weekend three seasons started. The Pat Chambers era started when the Penn State Nittany Lion men’s basketball team beat Hartford 70-55, Cael Sanderson started his third season as head coach of the Wrestling team with a 39-3 tune-up over Bloomsburg, and interim coach Tom Bradley took over for Joe Paterno coming up a little short in a tough 17-14 loss. While the football game was a tough pill to swallow the basketball and wrestling teams started off on the right foot. Over 6,000 fans packed Rec Hall to see the defending national champs and, before the match started, the Big Ten and National champion banners raised to the Rec Hall roof.
After the pre-match ceremony, fans were treated to some dominating wrestling. Five wrestlers were making their Penn State debut including two true freshmen. It didn’t take long to realize the future for the wrestling program is very bright.
At 125, true freshman Nico Megaludis needed just over 2 minutes to take Bloom’s Sean Boylan down twice and turn him for a pin. The new rules on stalling showed up right off the bat; with Megaludis pushing the action, Boylan got hit with the meet’s first stall early in the period. It seemed promising but it didn’t last long, there was a lot of stalling as Bloomsburg was outmanned in a lot of the bouts.
The other true freshman made his debut at 197 as Morgan McIntosh used a strong ride to defeat Bloomsburg's Richard Perry 6-0. Perry pushed the action and had several deep shots on McIntosh but the young Lion countered each shot and held on for a scoreless first period. McIntosh used a tilt and a reversal to take a 5-0 lead and added a riding time point with almost 4 minutes of riding time.
The marquee matchup was between Penn State’s Dylan Alton ranked 12th and Bloomsburg’s highest ranked wrestler Frank Hickman, ranked 14th. Alton was dominating on his feet taking Hickman down 4 times. Hickman’s only takedown came with 10 seconds left off an Alton shot. The final 10-8 score was not nearly as close as it looked, Alton controlled the match. The only negative I can say about Dylan is he needs work on his mat skills, Hickman was getting out rather easily after Alton took him down.
The only Penn State loss came at 133 as Bloom’s Nick Wilcox used a late reversal to beat Derek Reber 2-0. Reber had several chances to score but could not break through.
Frank Molinaro, David Taylor, Ed Ruth, and Quentin Wright all looked like men on a mission. Q and Taylor each had quick pins and Molinaro used his patent tough cross body ride to amass a 16-0 technical fall early in the third period. Ed just missed out on bonus points winning 10-4 but had No. 20 Mike Dessino of Bloom locked up in several cradles but was unable to turn him for the pin.
The most encouraging bout of the night was that of Cameron Wade. Everyone knows Wade has a killer ride, especially for a heavyweight, but Came is sometimes less aggressive on his feet. At least for one match that wasn’t the case as Wade used three takedowns, one in each period, and a strong ride to take an 8-0 major decision. Wade nearly turned Bloomsburg's Zac Walsh several times and controlled the match. If Wade stays that aggressive on his feet good things will happen for the Lion Heavyweight.
All in all, it was a good start to the wrestling season. The older wrestlers looked focused and the younger wrestlers did well, for the most part. Reber was a little disappointing, hopefully he can finish off his moves in the future.
Next Up: a huge early season matchup against #5 Minnesota Sunday November 20th at Noon.