Penn State wrestling play by play announcer Jeff Byers has written another excellent piece on Statecollege.com. The Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team returns to Rec Hall again this Sunday, and Jeff talks about our collective anticipation and compares it to last year, a 22-13 Hawkeye victory.
Last year’s meeting with the Hawkeyes was the most anticipated dual of the season. Penn State had vaulted to the top of the coaches’ poll, had a capacity crowd at Rec Hall and was primed for a big win over the three-time defending national champions. Fans were anticipating a big, signature home victory. Then the Hawkeyes took the mat and Tony Ramos upset Andrew Long at 133 pounds. Montell Marion fought off of his back and rallied to beat Andrew Alton and Grant Gambrall knocked off Quentin Wright. When the dust had settled, Penn State was again looking up at its Big Ten rivals.
He goes on to note that the sting of that loss was eventually lessened as Penn State went on to win the Big Ten & National Championships. But as he remembers how disappointing the dual loss was at the time, he guesses that the memory of it won't do anything to diminish the anticipation of this year's match:
Not that that will stop fans, and a certain radio broadcaster, from getting emotionally invested in great expectations again this time around. If anything, the anticipation is even higher this year. Now, we’re really anticipating a big win - this time the Nittany Lions are third in the coaches’ poll and the Hawkeyes are one spot higher. Iowa has reeled off a remarkable 39 consecutive dual meet victories and 50 straight road wins. The anticipation of watching the beloved Nittany Lions flex their muscle in snapping those streaks is almost too much to bear. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the Rec Hall roars, the fists thrust in the air of the victorious Lions and the smiles and hugs all around when - if - Penn State gets the win it seeks this time.
With a brief trip down memory lane and while sounding a little wistful if not poetic, Byers finishes with the possibility that some of our current wrestlers may one day sit so highly in our memories:
When you look at the pictures of Penn State’s history, you can hear the thunderous applause as Mike Reid was carried out of the gym after the big win over Lehigh. You can see the effortless shots of Andy Matter. You can feel the electricity as Penn State upset the Gable-led, veteran Hawkeyes. And for all of the great moments you see and hear and read about, you realize that you are anticipating moments that rival the very best in the history of the program. This is a team that could very well be filled with athletes who will take on legendary status some day. Of course, legends leave their imprints on history when the opportunities present themselves.
It's a great read. Go Lions!