Penn State ended the dual meet season in style, with probably their best performance of the year, and definitely the best since the Southern Scuffle in late December. There were a few disappointing results late in the match, but in the three marquee bouts Penn State dominated.
Cael said the team took a bit of a break this week so the guys would be fresh for Friday's match and it showed, almost every guy in the lineup looked considerably better than they have in recent weeks. If they're able to duplicate this performance at the Big Ten championships in a few weeks Penn State could be looking at their first Big Ten title in a long time.
The team has two weeks to prepare for Big Tens so I imagine they'll have some pretty tough spirited practices this week before taking it a little easy next week to ensure everyone it 100% for the tournament. While there won't be any action on the mat this week it's still a big week for the team as the automatic qualifiers for each conference will be announced this week. These will be important for guys like Pataky and Wright who likely will not get a wild card selection if they have a bad Big Ten tournament.
Friday Penn State 30 Wisconsin 12
125: Brad Pataky wins 10 5
Brad looked like he was going to end his Rec Hall career in style jumping out to a 10 0 lead, but he struggled mightily from the bottom position and was held to just a regular decision. Obviously Brad will need to do some work on getting out from bottom the next two weeks. But he again looked healthy and strong on that injured knee. He looked awesome from neutral and the top position. He probably slots somewhere in the 3rd or 4th range if he stays healthy at the Big Ten tournament that should be enough to get him through to the NCAAs.
133: Andrew Long hammers Tyler Graff 12 5
Oh what a match and what a performance for Long. This was by far his best performance in a Penn State singlet. Graff got the initial takedown but it was all Long after that. Long picked up 4 takedowns and nearly a minute and a half in riding time. The score is a bit misleading as there were some tremendous scrambles in this bout, which should give Wisconsin fans some hope in a rematch. But in the 2nd period Long took over as Graff clearly started to fade. Long did start to slow down some in the 3rd period but in general his conditioning looked superb and he seems to be peaking at the right time. This was a huge statement win for Long who has now put himself in the title picture at the Big Tens. The discussion for seeds at this weight should be extremely interesting as Graff was expected to be the number 1 seed at the tournament before this match. Now that almost assuredly has to go to Long or Ramos from Iowa.
141: Andrew Alton wins by fall
Andrew finally got a break from wrestling top 5 guys and returned to form with a second period fall for Penn State. Andrew did get some solid work in from neutral using several different leg attacks for takedowns before finally locking up a front head and arm for the fall. Hopefully he'll finally get some of those leg attacks working against some of the top opponents. Although quite honestly a few of them seemed a tad sloppy and would have been easily stopped by a guy like Russell or Marion. 141 should be an interesting weight class in the Big Ten. Alton will likely be seeded 5th possibly 6th due to his poor Big Ten record. He should easily get through however if someone gets upset he could easily not place, with a bad draw. Even if that occurs he likely qualifies for the NCAAs through a wild card.
149: Frank Molinaro wins by major decision
Frank had a terrible match against Minnesota last week which he referred to as a wake up call. He looked much better this week against 10th ranked Colthurst Schmidt. Molinaro wasn't really tested on his feet late in this match like he was against Minnesota, so it's hard to say how much better he was. Frank did get a huge turn late in the match to pick up enough points for the major decision. Going into the Big Ten tournament Frank is likely the favorite to win 149, but he'll need to be on his game to win. He should get a tough challenge from Andrew Nadhir from Northwestern.
157: David Taylor wins by tech fall
Another unranked opponent and another tech fall for Taylor. He wraps up his first regular season an astonishing 31 - 0 with only one regular decision. That is truly amazing even if 157 is a bit of a down weight class this year. Taylor will be a huge favorite going into the Big Ten tournament, and it would take a major letdown for him to lose it. His biggest test will likely come from St. John of Iowa who has been coming on strong in recent weeks.
165: James Vollrath wins by decision
Vollrath got the start but he failed to really step up and take hold of this weight class. He got the win, but didn't look much better than Fischer or Kemerer have in recent weeks. It's also important to remember that the guy Vollrath was wrestling also bumped up from 157 so there was no real size or weight advantage to take into account here. It's tough to say how Vollrath would handle a full sized 165 pounder. Vollrath locked up a quick cradle at the start of the match and it looked like he might have ended things early, but he was unable to get the fall or do much after that. When you remove the 5 point move at the start of the match Vollrath was outscored 3 2 over the rest of the match, which isn't a good sign. At Big Tens Penn State will likely get 1 or 2 wins to nab a few points at this weight.
174: Ed Ruth wins by decision
This was one of the few weights where Penn State didn't look particularly impressive. Ruth looked unusually slow and sluggish in this match. Not sure if he was under the weather or had trouble making weight but this was not the best we've seen him wrestle. That being said not his best was still good enough to win against a quality opponent. This bout was in doubt for far too long though. Ruth will need to wrestle better at Big Tens but I don't think he'll have any problem with that. Ruth will go into the Big Ten as the favorite to win it all, and I think he'll do so. Although if he wrestles like he did against Wisconsin he could easily get upset.
184: Travis Rutt pins Quentin Wright
This outcome was certainly disappointing, but wrestling wise Wright looked leaps and bounds better this week than he did against Minnesota. Wright got a really nice low ankle pick for a takedown before he got too high and got caught and stuck by Rutt. But even on the takedowns given up their were some tremendous scrambles. Wright showed far more fight than he has in his recent losses. He definitely showed some glimmers that he might be snapping out of the funk he's in. I still believe most of his problems at this point are mental not physical. The bad thing is they can be tough to snap out of, and there's no set time when he'll be ready to go again. The good part of it is he could snap out of it at any time and get things turned around. It could be something a simple as getting a big win. I remember two years ago Penn State had a freshman who was climbing up the ranks and everyone was excited to see him wrestle highly ranked Jay Borschel. Borschel was out for the match and Iowa wrestled a back up the freshman ended up getting beat in a terrible match. At the Big Ten tournament the freshman met Borschel in the semifinals and beat him in an amazing match. You may recognize the Penn State freshman's name Quentin Wright. So Wright has a track record of showing up when it counts. This weight is wide open he could finish anywhere from 1st to not place, but Penn State will need him to wrestle strong to have a chance to win.
197: Trevor Brandvold pins Nick Ruggear
The only good thing about this match is that it ended quickly. Ruggear has certainly taken his lumps this year and it's definitely tough to wrestle as a freshman at such an upper classmen loaded weight class. But Penn State is looking at another year of going 2 and done at the Big Ten tournament this year.
Hwt: Cameron Wade wins by decision
Wade won a solid but slightly unconvincing 5 2 win. Wade has been dominate from top in recent weeks, but I can't remember the last time he's picked up a takedown. This match was 3 0 in the third when Wade gave up a takedown way too easily in my opinion. If Wade could just show some small amount of offense from his feet he could become dominant heavyweight. This was still another good win for him, and he does seem to be getting somewhat back into form after a the loss at Michigan State. At the Big Ten tournament I truly think just about any of the heavyweights could win it. Based on rankings and results obviously, Wade should be a slight favorite. But truthfully none of the heavyweights in the Big Ten has impressed all that much and all look capable of losing at any time.