Stay Golden, Pony Boy. And you too, Rider.
It's the last home dual of the year for Penn State. You'll be able to enjoy it from start to finish, without fear of failure.
Rider University used to be called Trenton Business College (alternatively, Bidness Skool). Located in Lawrenceville, NJ, Rider is Exit 7 off the Turnpike, which is universally recognized as the cultural dividing line between the two halves of the State of New Jersey. South of Exit 7 is Philly; North of Exit 7 is New York. In the middle and forgotten - or at least, desperately tried to bypass, lies Trenton (alternatively, TRENN'in).
According to The Princeton Review, Rider sports the #15 Least Beautiful Campus, and the #17 Least Happy Students. This is particularly funny because Princeton is just a few miles north of Rider. Sounds like the basis for S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Stay golden, Pony Boy.
The Rider Broncs - not Broncos, Mustangs or Eye-talian Stallions, just Broncs - have approximately 6,000 undergrad and graduate students. Ten of those students will be wrestling in Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon. Zero of them have a shot at winning. Let's look at the match-ups.
#2 Nico Megaludis vs. UR (FR) Patrick Skinner - young Patrick's in his first year of collegiate competition, and has compiled an 0-20 record to this point.
Line: Nico by fall
#14 Jordan Conaway vs. #24 (SO) Jimmy Morris - Jimmy has an injury default victory of Northwestern's Levi Mele, as well as losses to Lehigh's Laike Gardner (a Conaway win) and #9 Scotti Sentes. This won't be a pushover match for the newly ranked Jordan.
Line: Conaway minus 3.5
UR Bryan Pearsall (or Derek Reber) vs. UR (SO) Rob Cigna - Cigna is 3-4 on the season, with a major decision loss to Penn State's Jimmy Gulibon. Pearsall is the lone remaining Lion starter not ranked in the Top 20 - a certified lifeline into Nationals.
Line: Pearsall minus 4.5
#12 Andrew Alton vs. UR (FR) Curt Delia - Delia is 17-9 with two or three losses to Binghamton's Donnie Vinson. Delia has a win over Cody Ruggirello of the Hofstra wrestling Ruggirellos.
Line: Alton by fall
#5 Dylan Alton vs. #27 (SR) Zac Cibula - Zac is 20-7. He beat Rutgers' Scott Winston 6-4, and has lost to Penn State's Jim Vollrath 4-8, and Purdue's Tommy Churchard 4-5.
Line: Alton minus 5.5
#2 David Taylor vs #20 (JR) Ramon Santiago - Rider's highest ranked wrestler has the unfortunate fate to be matched against David Taylor. That's a shame.
Line: Taylor minus 15
#7 Matt Brown vs. #31 (JR) James Brundage - James brings a 16-9 record into his match with Hulk hands. He's beaten Cornell's Marshall Peppelman (13-4), and lost to Northwestern's Lee Munster (0-4) and Rutgers' Greg Zanetti (1-3).
Line: Brown minus 4.5
#1 So Fresh, So Clean vs. UR (FR) Ryan Wolfe - Wolfe is 20-9 on the year as a freshman. Nice work, Ryan.
Line: Ed Ruth by fall
#2 Quentin Wright vs. #29 (SO) Don McNeil - McNeil is 16-13. He's pinned former PSU-now-Clarion wrestler Justin Ortega. He's dropped decisions to Penn's Micah Burak (1-3) and Wisconsin's Jackson Hein (1-4).
Line: Give a standing Oh for Quentin's last dual meet pinfall in Rec Hall
#12 Jimmy Lawson vs. UR (FR) Greg Velasco - Velasco is 9-14, with L's to Northwestern's Mike McMullen, Central Michigan's Jarod Trice, and Arizona State's Levi Cooper. One of those was by major, and the other two were by fall.
Line: Lawson minus 10.5, just because I want to see Jimmy go to work for seven minutes.
While the bulk of the wrestling nation screams about the idiocy that is the IOC, and has half an eye on the NWCA National Duals, we Penn Staters get to cheer one last time this season at Rec Hall for the best team in the nation, as they put a whoopin' on a struggling regional foe.
Could Penn State be at National Duals? Of course. But does that grow the sport of wrestling? I'm not so sure, and the Sandersons are positive that it does not - at least in its current format. Instead of another event headlined by the same four or five wrestling squads, at the same four or five venues, attended by the same fans of those same squads, the Sandersons are bringing in a Rider program this year to Rec Hall, and returning the favor next year at Rider. Next year, Rider will sell out their gym, keep the gate receipts, and probably get some new fans out of the Central Jersey region for their program. Assuming that event gets 200 new fans, that will be approximately 200 more new fans for the sport than if Penn State had attended National Duals. And Rider's program gets closer to breaking even, which any Athletic Director will tell you is a good thing.
But this Sunday? Well, whoopins are motivational, learning moments. Or at the very least, life experience. So let's make some memories, Central New Jersey!
Line: Penn State minus 43.5
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