The Penn State wrestling team was able to bounce back from the loss to Iowa this weekend with two lopsided wins against over matched foes Michigan and Michigan State. The team basically did as expected going into the weekend and seems to not be suffering any linger effects from the Iowa match.
That being said the match Friday against Michigan State, the team looked a bit flat. It's tough to say if that was a product of most of the Michigan State guys refusal to actually wrestle, or a product of the team still no over last week's loss. Or it could be that the atmosphere at Michigan State's Jenison Field house lulled them to sleep. Having been there now I can say it has nothing on rec hall that's for sure. Whatever the cause despite the lopsided final score it wasn't their most impressive performance. The team was actually trailing at the midway point, before reeling off five straight wins.
Also the officiating at this dual was horrendous, this is the second straight match where it seemed like the official really wasn't ready to be reffing a Big Ten match up. In the Iowa dual the ref, who I'm not blaming for any outcomes, seemed really unsure of himself and almost seemed afraid at times to make a tough call, against both teams. In this dual the ref simply didn't call anything, there were casses of extreme stalling by Michigan State notably at 133, and again some at 174, and calls just didn't come. Then he was talked into a fleeing the mat call at 157 by Cael which was awfully peculiar. The 133 pound match was probably the worse as the kid just refused to wrestle, there were several occasions where Long would cut the kid loose and he just laid on the mat. Any ref with a limited level of skill would have called stalling on that immediately but this ref let it go time and time again. In the 184 pound match there was a wild scramble where quite honestly Wright should have been called pin in a defensive fall, and then he rolled through and had a pin of his own, that wasn't called. Really rough night for the zebras.
The team seemed to be a little sharper and better focused on Sunday against Michigan. Although there were still a few struggles, namely at 165 and heavyweight. At heavyweight Cameron Wade seems to have completely fallen apart in recent weeks. He got dominated from the neutral position in both matches, luckily for the team he was able to dominate Apland from Michigan from the top position to get the fall when he was getting hammered in that match.
This weekend the team will get two much tougher tests from Illinois and Minnesota. Both are matches Penn State should win but they are loaded with key match ups between highly ranked wrestlers, that will be big for not only confidence but Big Ten seeding.
Penn State 30 Michigan State 9
125: Eric Olanowski beat Nate Morgan 8 5
This was a closer match than expected and Morgan wrestled really tough, he showed some real grit in this match. But as mentioned in the preview he's just not quite physically ready to take on this kind of competition yet. He showed he has some solid offense though and he's a capable wrestler, he could have a good future at Penn State when he develops. Pataky was announced before the meet, and he seemed to have no noticeable limp, even going up the stairs to the raised mat he didn't seem to have many problem so we could see him again soon. Both matches this weekend were random starts and I'd be curious to see who decided that Cael said he doesn't like to do it but it's possible he was trying to set up a scenario where Pataky would only wrestle if needed.
133: Andrew Long wins 16 5
Long had a good performance in his first match back, his opponent did absolutely nothing the entire match and quite frankly should have been called for stalling quite a few times as it was he only got called once. Long however did a good job not taking himself out of the match like he did against Iowa by starting out way too aggressive, he took his time and set up his shots well. Good match against an over matched opponent.
141: Andrew Alton wins by forfeit
Would have been nice to see Alton throw Trombly around like a rag doll but the Michigan State thought better of it. This could have some consequences though as it's one less Big Ten win for Alton which could be crucial in seeding a loaded 141 pound weight class.
149: Frank Molinaro wins 12 5
For the second straight match Frank fell 1 point shy of a major decision. And again it was the same story as last week, Frank racked up a ton of riding time early but was unable to do any scoring and then late in the match when he needed a takedown he ran out of gas. I'm not entirely convinced Frank is a 100% right now as he seemed really fatigued in his last two match compared to how he normally wrestles. But again you have to some what question the decision to ride the entire first period when you're dominating your opponent from neutral. I would much rather see him build up a big lead, and then ride the guy late in the match when he already has the major instead of trying to scramble to get it at the end. Especially from a guy like Frank who does very little scoring from the top position. I know this probably seems like nitpicking in a 30 9 win for the team, but both Big Tens and Nationals figure to be close, and every bonus point Penn State can get will be huge.
157: David Taylor wins 22 5
Once again Taylor looked simply dominate in this match, against an opponent whose main goal was clearly to stay off his back Taylor was able to pick up a crucial tilt so his tech fall was worth 5 points as opposed to 4. Give Sean McMurray some credit he actually came after Taylor a bit and was aggressive, good to see him go down fighting instead of stalling away the match like most of his teammates. Taylor's ankle pick has been really slick although I'm starting to feel he maybe getting a little to enamored with it, against over matched opponents like this I'd like to see him mix it up more.
165: Nick Fischer wins 9 1
Fischer put on a pretty solid performance against a decidedly weak opponent. It was good to see him pick up the major however and he really dominated this match. I'm somewhat surprised quite a few fans are calling for him to be the starter now after this one win, as I think Kemerer would have likely had a similar result. Fans seem to really have something against Jake who quite honestly I don't think has wrestled that poorly. I don't really know what the coaches plan is at this weight but I really wish they'd pick a starter soon so someone can try to build some momentum and confidence for the post season with just three duals left.
174: Ed Ruth wins 18 6
Ruth had another very solid match and picked up a major over an opponent whose sole mission seemed to be to not get pinned. Jacobs did nothing but try to ward off Ruth's cradle the entire match and never really looked to score much on his own. Ruth to his credit didn't get as hung up looking for the cradle like he did against Iowa instead he decided to score points anyway he could, and quickly switched to the takedown game. It was a good smart match for Ruth.
184: Quentin Wright wins 13 1
This was a wild match, the score doesn't reflect it but there was some crazy scrambling in this match. Wright wrestling with out the shoulder harness he had the past few duals looked remarkbly better against Hinton who is a solid opponent. Although there were still a few moments of slopiness for Quentin especially in some of the scrambles. Hinton appeared to me to have Wright stuck in a defensive fall but it went uncalled by the ref. Wright to his credit was able to fight out and take Hinton to his back where again it looked like the pin could have been called. Instead Wright would have to settle for 3 back points which blew the match open. I still think Wright has a ways to go before he's back into form but this was a step in the right direction, and a much better performance than what he showed against Iowa.
197: Tyler Dickenson beats Nick Ruggear 5 2
Ruggear actually led this match 2 1 on a solid takedown in the second period but unfortunately it was all the scoring he would do. Ruggear struggled mightily from the bottom position and got ridden the entire third period. I don't really know what more to say about this weight, it seems neither Ortega or Ruggear is a viable option for a solid Big Ten team. I think any points Penn State gets from this weight at the Big Ten tournament will be a bonus but I don't expect either guy to advance to the NCAAs.
Hwt: Joe Rizqallah hammers Cameron Wade 8 2
The best part of this match was that the score was only 8 2 it could have been far worse, as Wade looked AWFUL in this match. He looked completely outclassed from neutral, and then got dominated on the mat which is supposed to be his strongest position. Rizqallah who deserves some credit for taking it to Wade wasn't doing anything overly spectacular or impressive, that should have stunned a supposed top 10 heavyweight. From the top position he had a simple two on one tilt going with a leg hooked, something that is literally elementary wrestling, maybe junior high. Apparently Wade's never seen it however as his strategy for getting out seemed to be to grab Rizqallah's leg and turn towards his back into his tilt, the exact way Rizqallah wanted him to go. Luckily for Wade he was able to stay perpendicular a few times so the ref didn't award back points or this would have easily been a major decision loss. What was worse than the poor wrestling on bottom, was that it was compounded by pure stupid wrestling. Now having wrestled I can say there are times when it feels like something is there but it really isn't so you may still try to go after incorrectly, it happens. But Wade did this same grab the leg and roll to your back move at least 5 times by my count probably closer to 10. Now after 2 you should have realized it wasn't going to work and try something different. Like oh I don't know grabbing the ankle and rolling the opposite way and coming out the back door. Doing the same poor move over and over is just terrible wrestling, awful match for Wade who despite winning didn't look all that great against Iowa either. It seemed like he was starting to put it together a few weeks ago but now it looks like he peaked and has fallen off the other side of the mountain.
Penn State 28 Michigan 13
125: Sean Boyle beats Nate Morgan 6 2
This was the last match of dual so Penn State knew they didn't need to wrestle Pataky it would have been nice to see him get another shot at Boyle though. Morgan wrestled tough, much tougher than I expected I really thought this was a major decision at least for Boyle but Morgan kept him to a decision, which is basically all you can ask of him at this point.
133: Andrew Long wins 16 6
I really thought this match would be much closer this time and it certainly started out that way. Stevens got a takedown 5 seconds into the bout, but Long fought back and picked up the lead with a takedown of his own midway though the bout. That after Long had an initial takedown was waved off in what again seemed to be a lack of confidence by the official. It looked like this was going to be a hard fought decision until long picked up a takedown and took Stevens straight to his back with just a small amount of time left. He wasn't able to get the fall but the 5 points were enough to give him a major decision. Really good match for Long, and really showed he had something left in the tank after gassing against Iowa. He showed a lot of fight and aggression at the end of the match instead of just trying to hold on to a 5 point lead, which is something the coaches have been preaching all year.
141: Kellen Russell beats Andrew Alton 3 1
Mat wrestling once again did in Alton, this time in overtime. The two wrestlers traded escapes in regulation, which was a plus for Alton who got ridden hard by Russell in the last meeting. There were some great scrambles in the opening period of this bout but Alton still was unable to break through against Russell to get a takedown. Alton's best chance came in the 2nd period where he hit a duck under and got behind Russell but was unable to get him to the mat before Russell was able to break free. In overtime neither wrestler attempted to much, but Alton seemed to really push the pace, I think both guys knew rideout really favored Russell. In the first rideout period Russell got a quick reversal to take a two point lead, and then critically was able to ride Alton for the rest of the period. He then rode Alton out in the 2nd ride out to win the match 3 1. It was a critical mistake by Alton to give up the reversal instead of just an escape, compounded only by his inability to get out from bottom again. As mentioned before lots of young college struggle with mat wrestling and it's something Andrew will definitely have to improve next year when he likely redshirts. He still close with Russell and there's no reason to give up hope one big takedown could be the difference. Andrew has a tough road this weekend and he could use a big upset to try and get a more favorable seed for the Big Ten tournament.
149: Frank Molinaro wins 8 3
As I expected this was a really close match for Frank, Grajales has been wrestling tough the past few weeks despite his 500 record. He also has a defensive first style that tends to give Frank problems. This match was close in the third period with Frank clinging to a one point lead after a Grajales takedown, but Frank got out and got a takedown of his own to seal the bout and tacked on the riding time point to make it a comfortable 5 point win. It was good to see Frank finish strong and get the decisive takedown, late in the match. He didn't seem quite as tired at the end of this one, which is odd since it was a closer competitive match.
157: David Taylor wins by fall
Add this to the long list of impressive wins for Taylor. Taylor pinned the 20th ranked wrestler in the country in just 1 minute. It's really tough to write up a review of Taylor's matches without getting repetitive, he's simply dominated everyone he has wrestled this year.
165: Dan Yates beats Nick Fischer 5 2
Yates beat Vollrath 8 2 in the Virginia Duals so marginal improvement here from Fischer. Fischer had a few good shots but was unable to convert any of them into takedowns, and he gotten ridden hard by Yates. Yates really controlled this bout that never really seemed to be in doubt. This is two straight starts for Fischer so it will be interesting to see if he gets the nod this weekend as well. I really think Kemerer might have been a bit better of a match up for Yates style wise. But I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference in the outcome.
174: Ed Ruth wins 13 6
Another 7 point regular decision for Penn State this seems to be a continuing trend. This one was slightly infuriating as Ruth gave up an escape with very little time left to give up the major decision. Again it was a case of a Penn State wrestler having over 2 minutes of riding time but finding themselves scrambling at the end of match to try and get a takedown for a major decision. It seems there needs to be a real strategy change here for a few of these Penn State guys. This again was a match where Penn State knew going in it was an overwhelming favorite and Ruth could dominate from neutral. Now I should say there is some difference between Ruth and Molinaro in that Ruth has more offense from the top position and a better chance to score points. Where as Molinaro is basically strictly a rider and scores very little from that position.
184: Quentin Wright wins by fall
Didn't learn too much from this bout as Wright hit a quick headlock and got the pin in just 24 seconds. Not much else to say good win for the dual meet and the team stand point but in a way I feel Quentin probably could have used the work on the mat.
197: Anthony Biondo beats Nick Ruggear 12 3
Ruggear as expected was simply outclassed in this match, and Biondo took advantage using late backpoints to lock up a major decision. It was expected but slightly disappointing to see Ruggear give up the points late in the match to give up a major. As important as turning 7 point decisions into majors is for Penn State keeping matches like this to a decision will be just as important.
Hwt: Cameron Wade wins by fall
Talk about winning ugly. Wade beat Apland twice this year but Apland was dominating him through two periods, he was making Wade looking absolutely foolish from neutral. But Wade took top to start the third period trailing 6 - 2, and he quickly turned Apland to his back and pinned him. It's good to see Wade not give up and come back to win, but he's really got to get it together from neutral. He was far more aggressive in this match but his shots were pretty poor even by heavyweight standards. This is a good win for Wade after losing on Friday but make no mistake he was completely out wrestled in this match. I expected Apland might have a chance to win as it's tough to be a wrestler twice let alone three times in a year. But there is no way he should have been as dominate as he was. Wade's gonna have to get back on track quickly with just 3 matches left in the dual meet season.