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Nitt Picks is Goin Rasslin'

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It's been over three weeks since the Nittany Lions brought home the 2011 National Championship, and there's a lot of coverage we let slip through the cracks. And with half our BSD team tied up in this year's WAPS mag, the Step Up series fizzling to a cold hard stop and most of our Blue White Game thoughts scheduled to run later this week, we thought we'd take a rainy Tuesday afternoon to take a look back at some wrestling links. Some are a little old, so apologies if you've already peeped them. First up is this 3/25/11 letter from assistant coach Casey Cunningham. He covers a lot of ground, but starts out with some mad kudos to departing Senior Brad Pataky:

I have to take a minute to briefly talk about Brad.  Brad is a great kid with a lot of heart which he poured into this program for six years.  He was badly injured before the season even started but he came through big when we needed his points.  Without Brad's points at the Big Ten Tournament we would not have won.  I am not sure how much I am allowed to comment on his injury but it was serious enough that most people would have had surgery and been done for the year, which he did this morning at 7:30am.  That is not Brad though he was not going to finish his senior year sitting on the side watching so we are very proud of him.

He then goes on to talk about the Big Ten Championship and the importance of contributions from Pataky, Andrew Alton and James Vollrath, and of course has high praises for the big scorers at nationals. He also lays out some of the impressiveness of Coach Cael Sanderson's young five-year coaching career:

I have heard several times that Cael finally got a team title but he has only been a head coach for five years and it is pretty remarkable what he has accomplished in that time.  His teams have finished 2nd, 5th, 3rd, 9th, and 1st   in the Nation.  He has won his respective conference four of the five years he has coached with last year being the exception.  His ISU teams won three Big Twelve titles which were all a first in school history since joining the conference.  This year's Penn State team won the Big Ten Title for the first time in school history.  In five years he has had 44 of a possible 50 NCAA qualifiers.  Cael has coached 3 National Champions, 9 NCAA finalists, and 23 All-Americans in five years.  He has been named National Coach of the year, Big Twelve coach of the year, and Big Ten coach of the year in his short career.

More Penn State Links

David Taylor & Ed Ruth finish 1-2 in Intermat voting for Freshman of the Year:

Taylor joins a stellar list of InterMat Freshman of Year honorees. Last year, Kyle Dake of Cornell University received the award. Others include Wisconsin's Andrew Howe (2009), Cornell's Mike Grey (2008), Iowa State's Jake Varner (2007), and Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter (2006).

For you history buffs, Intermat's Mark Palmer on 3/20/11put out this interesting recap of Penn State's first National Championship in 1953. Palmer cites two books which were influential in his writing of the article: Jay Hammond's The History of College Wrestling and A Turning Point by Jamie Moffatt and Roger Oleson, a book specifically about the 1953 NCAA's. Palmer starts with a 'very brief history of Penn State wrestling' and emphasizes the importance of the hiring of Charlie 'Doc' Speidel in 1928 and the GI Bill after World War II, and goes on to describe some similarities between the 1953 and 2011 championships.

Penn State's National Championship changed the tenor of Iowa Coach Tom Brands' end-of-season banquet remarks a bit this year, and they're definitely worth a read. I love how he talks about imagination!

Are you OK with being down a couple of notches? Are you OK with getting whipped? Are you OK with getting whipped by Penn State?" Brands asked. "If you're not, do you have an imagination to go beyond where you are now and what you think is hard work, and what you think is the right way, and what you think is doing everything you can to really open up the flood gates to realizing your potential?

Recruiting Links

The Tribune-Review has this 4/7/11 Q&A with top recruit Nico Megaludis, who is likely to take Pataky's vacated spot at 125 next year. Nico finished with a stellar 170-1 career record in Pennsylvania AAA and sounds like he wants to go to Brazil. For vacation. Some day.

The 717's New Oxford produced a PA state champion in 112 pounder Jordan Conaway, whose star is shining brightly right now for two reasons. One, he upset then-top-ranked Evan Silver of Blair Academy in the Dapper Dan Classic a few weeks ago, and two: Liberty College, to whom Conaway had signed his National Letter of Intent, recently reclassified their wrestling program from Division I to a club sport. In the Gettysburg Times on 4/1/11, his dad talked about the changes and what it might mean for Penn State:

"In less than 24 hours, it was unbelievable," Jordan said. "We were answering the phone all the time." Dave decided to be pro-active, and contacted Penn State University. The Nittany Lions captured an NCAA Division I championship last weekend in Philadelphia and have stockpiled some of the best young talent in the country under second-year head coach Cael Sanderson, who returned a call to the Conaway’s Wednesday evening, expressing interest in Jordan’s services.  "Coach Sanderson calling was awesome," said Jordan, who plans to visit State College next week. "I’m pretty excited. I told him my goals, and he said they have the resources to get that done and help me be the best wrestler I can be. That would be awesome to be on a team that won a national title."

Last March, we did a fanpost about an 8th grade wrestler named Chance Marsteller and his goals to be undefeated. I know some find it distasteful to talk about because the sport is so brutal as it is and imperfections are bound to happen to most wrestlers. But more and more elite wrestlers are starting the sport so young, and it's such a goal-oriented endeavor that this quest to not only be the very best, but to be unblemished while so doing is just fascinating to me. I hope my participation in it as a fan doesn't create additional pressure (and listening to some of these guys talk about their goals, I know they know pressure is part of the territory), but I can't help but be totally intrigued by the pursuits of undefeated. Anyway, here is Frank Bodani talking about Marsteller's stellar start, going 42-0 and becoming the heaviest freshman (152 pounds) to win a PA AAA state title in history.

Of course, our own David Taylor could teach him a few things about pressure and how to bounce back from a loss (if he ever gets one), as he does only a little bit in this audio interview.

Freestyle Links

Cary Kolat, referenced in the Marstellar links above, just finished a ridiculous run through the US Open freestyle tournament this past weekend in Ohio, finishing second to the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club's Teyon Ware (who beat Brent Metcalfe in the semis) at 66kg/145lbs. Why is this newsworthy? Kolat will turn 38 next month!

Other NLWC members who placed included: Mark McKnight at 55kg/121lbs (7th), Nick Fanthorpe at 60kg/132lbs (7th), Jake Varner at 96kg/212lbs (1st) and Aaron Anspach and Les Sigman at 120kg/265lbs (5th & 6th respectively)

One More Celebration Link

Pennstatepat put together this awesome video and presented it at our own end of year banquet. Gradulations again, Quentin Wright and the Penn State wrestling team!