Amazingly we've reached the final dual meet of the season already. And this Friday's match against Wisconsin should be a great finish. All but one weight(165) will feature a wrestler ranked 11th or higher, 8 bouts will feature a wrestler ranked 7th or higher. There will be several critical bouts pitting top ten wrestlers especially 133 and 184, where Penn State could really use big wins. It also looks like this could be another sell out at rec hall which would be great to see.
This is a dual that Penn State should win fairly easily, especially since Wisconsin star Andrew Howe will not be back in time to wrestle. But more important than winning is how they look doing it. With just two weeks until the Big Ten tournament Penn State really needs to start clicking on all cylinders. They've been a bit inconsistent the final month of the season, and it will be key for them to start putting it all together this week. Guys like Quentin Wright and Cameron Wade need to get things turned in the right direction and quickly. As Penn State's title hopes could be riding on their shoulders.
125: #11 Brad Pataky vs Tom Kelliher
Unbelievably this will be Brad's final match at Rec Hall, the sixth year senior's career has really flown by. He's still looking for that elusive All American finish and looked poised to get this year before injuring his knee just weeks before the season started. He has battled hard throughout his career at Penn State he's shown tremendous heart and has always been a great team wrestler. He will be Penn State's lone senior starter at this year's senior day and I expect him to go out in style with a big win over Kelliher. The only key here for Penn State is Brad making it through this match healthy.
Pataky wins by fall
133: #8 Andrew Long vs #3 Tyler Graff
No question this will be the feature match up of the night, with two top ten wrestlers squaring off. Long is coming off a big win over BJ Futrell last week and could pick up his second straight upset win. Graff is having a tremendous sophomore season for the Badgers and would be a national title contender if not for the fact that Jordan Oliver looks untouchable at this point. That being said Graff appears to be the class of the Big Ten at this weight and seems to be a heavy favorite for the Big Ten title. This would be a huge win for Long if he's able to get it but I just don't see it happening at this point. This should be a great even match though and if Long can get an early takedown look out. This could potentially be a preview of the Big Ten championship, so both guys may wrestle this one a little close to vest.
Graff by decision
141: #7 Andrew Alton vs Danny Arnel
Alton finally has a match against someone not ranked in the top 4, and boy is it a big step down. Arnel comes in with just one win on the year. He's likely in for a pretty bad beating from Andrew who will be looking to take out some frustration for his recent loses. This is actually a big match for Andrew who needs to get some Big Ten wins under his belt as he could be looking at a fairly low seed for Big Tens.
Alton by fall
I'd also like to give mention to Adam Lynch a senior at 141 pounds. Adam broke into the starting lineup last year for Penn State and was a huge surprise. He had a great Big Ten campaign, including a huge upset over Montell Marion in Iowa, before faltering in the post season. Lynch didn't come into the wrestling program with the accolades of many of Penn State's starters but he worked hard and when he got his chance he took advantage of it. He decided to come back for his fifth year and final year of eligibility and was beat out by true freshman Andrew Alton. Lynch though didn't decide to pack up and go home, he instead decide to stay on and be a team player. He even did extra work outside of practice with guys like David Taylor to help improve the team. Around the same time Penn State had a big name quarterback throwing a hissy fit about playing time, Adam Lynch was going to the Virginia Duals. He wasn't part of the Penn State's travel roster for that tournament as the team knew Alton would wrestle all four matches. Instead Lynch got into a car with his grandfather and drove down to the tournament to cheer on his teammates. Sanderson rewarded him by allowing him to sit on the bench with the team the second day of the tournament. In a day and age where kids constantly shuffle schools when things don't go their way, it's refreshing to see a guy like Lynch who shows what not only what Penn State wrestling, but all of Penn State is all about. Hopefully when he is announced before tomorrow's dual meet, the fans will give him the ovation he deserves.
149: #3 Frank Molinaro vs #10 Cole Schmitt
This should be a great match up and test that Frank so badly needs. Frank looked really poor in his last outing against Minnesota and hasn't been particularly sharp in a few weeks. He will need to be on his game against Schmitt who is coming off a lost to Nadhir from Northwestern and also will be looking for a win. This figures to be close to a 3 man race for the Big Ten title between Molinaro Schmitt and Nadhir so a win here would be a big one for Frank. Unfortunately I feel like Frank is ripe for an upset loss and I think it comes this week to Schmitt.
Schmitt by decision
157: #3 David Taylor vs Kalvin York
This match is just a matter of how many points Taylor will score for the team, it will likely be either 5 or 6. Taylor hasn't gotten many pins of late and I think that continues this week with another quick and easy technical fall.
Taylor by tech fall
165: Jake Kemerer / Nick Fischer / James Vollrath vs Ben Cox
Vollrath was added to the release this week and according to Cael's comments on his radio show it sounds like we might see him this week. He proved at the souther scuffle he can wrestle at a high level although that was at 157 asking him to move up 8 pounds could be a bit much. Whoever wrestles for Penn State at this weight should be able to pick up at least a decision win. Cox hasn't done well at all filling in for Howe while he's been out with a hamstring injury. It looks like this weight won't be settled till someone weighs in at the Big Tens. Unfortunately I just don't think we'll get much production from this weight this season. I also think the window is almost closed on Kemerer's chances as Cael wasn't very flattering with his comments of him in his radio show.
Vollrath by decision
174: #2 Ed Ruth vs #14 Ben Jordan
Another decently ranked opponent for Ruth, he's been getting blasted for the last second escape he gave up against Glasser all week. What's lost in that is that he dominated the 11th ranked guy in the country. I expect more of the same this week. And I think this week he makes sure he has the bonus point locked up.
Ruth by major decision
184: #17 Quentin Wright vs #3 Travis Rutt
Wright started the season ranked in the top 5 but has slowly descended the rankings all year. Cody Sanderson's comments after last week's match hinted that there is more going on with Quentin than just the shoulder, which is something that I have mentioned before. He just doesn't look like the fire is there anymore. He's a guy who used to look like he took joy from wrestling and often had a smile on his face. I haven't seen much of that smile this year from him. He'll get a chance to turn it around this week in a big way. A win against Rutt could provide the spark he needs to get back on track for the post season. Which is something that Penn State sorely needs. Unfortunately I just don't see it happening. Not with the way these two have been wrestling.
Rutt wins by decision
197: Nick Ruggear vs #2 Trevor Brandvold
As is usually the case Penn State will go into the 197 pound match a sizable underdog. This time they will be a huge underdog and they need to really hope Ruggear can stay off his back. This one could get ugly.
Brandvold by fall
Hwt: #6 Cameron Wade vs #10 Eric Bugenhagen
This could be a pivotal match for the dual, and it will certainly be a key dual for seeding at the Big Ten. Wade hasn't been wrestling well of late but he's been finding a way to win ugly. He'll need to try and do that again against Bugenhagen who isn't exactly blowing people out this year. This has all the makings of another 3 1 heavyweight over time "thriller". Wade does have a 4 0 win against Bugenhagen in last years dual that hopefully he can use for confidence. Any takedown in this match could easily be the difference.
Wade by decision
Final Score Penn State 27 Wisconsin 15
This should be an entertaining dual meet if nothing else. If Howe were in the lineup for Wisconsin at 165 I'd be a lot more concerned about this one but I just don't think Wisconsin has enough big guns left in the lineup to knock off Penn State. They've really limped down the stretch since Howe was injured but this team will be a force in the post season, I promise that. Penn State also has struggled a bit down the stretch although Cael said during this weeks radio show that they had been pushing the guys hard in practice in recent weeks and this week they took their foot off the gas a bit. I'm hopeful we'll see a fresh and ready Penn State team on Friday night. The team will basically have a week of practice next week to really get after before probably trying to make sure everyone is fresh the following weekend for the Big Tens.