Whew. The boys had a nice mini-break this week, only wrestling last Friday at home. But now it's back to the Big Ten grind. Penn State goes back on the road, heading to East Lansing for a showdown with Sparty on Friday night, and then busing south to Ann Arbor, for a Sunday afternoon match against #11 Michigan, who is the only other undefeated squad in conference. Let's look at the matchups.
at Michigan State (5-8 overall, 0-5 in Big Ten)
When: Friday, 7pm ET
Video: PSU All-Access, who posted an apology for the spotty service of the past. To their credit, last Friday's dual with Illinois streamed without a hitch - so hopefully that's a sign of improvement.
Last Meeting: January 13th, 2013, a 41-0 shutout. Big Jon Gingrich hit a driving double leg takedown in the 3rd period to upset top-10 heavy Mike McClure, and ensure that Sparty went home winless in all 10 matches. The Lions gave Sparty a thorough beating. This year doesn't look to be much different.
#2 Nico Megaludis vs. SR Brenan Lyon (5-11)
Lyon is probably the worst 125lber in the Big Ten.
Line: Nico by tech fall (5-0)
#16 Jimmy Gulibon vs. FR Garth Yenter (14-13)
Time for Jimmy to register another dual win.
Line: Jimmy by major (9-0)
#2 Zpain Retherford vs. SO Brian Gibbs (12-16)
Not a good matchup for Sparty here, either.
Line: Zpain by major (13-0)
#11 Zack Beitz (Beats) vs. SO Nick Trimble (18-10)
So Zack may or may not get the start here over Andrew Alton, but Cael said last week that "Zack's leading the charge", and Intermat is now ranking Beats instead of Andrew. Frankly, with the way Beats has been wrestling, I'm comfortable with either guy in the lineup. Beats gets a little better with his ankle pick, and he could make a serious run at NCAAs.
Line: Beats by decision (16-0)
Jim Vollrath vs. SO Roger Wildmo (11-12)
Pat Donghia, the best Sports Information Director of any team in any sport, lists Dylan and Jim Vollrath as "OR". It wouldn't surprise me to see the Sandersons split this weekend's pair between them. I'm giving Jim the nod against Sparty.
Line: Rath of Voll by major (20-0)
#1 David Taylor vs. SR Bobby Nash (14-13)
Neither Cael nor David was happy with his performance against the Illini's Morse. That's probably bad news for Sparty and Meatchicken.
Line: Taylor by fall (26-0)
#3 Matt Brown vs. JR Kevin Nash (8-9)
Why nickname him Hulk Hands? Watch closely to see if the other guy's head stays attached to his body.
Line: Hulk Hands by tech fall (29-0)
#2 Ed Ruth vs. JR John Rizqallah (15-8)
Finally - Rizqallah isn't a stiff. He's not having a great year, but he's been in the rankings before, and has a shot at qualifying for the NCAAs. Of course, none of that is enough against So Fresh, So Clean.
Line: Ruth by major (33-0)
#7 Morgan McIntosh vs. JR Nick McDiarmid (14-6)
Here's a question for you: take a guess at which Penn State wrestler averages the most takedowns per match, within Big Ten conference play. If you said Morgan, with 4.6 takedowns per match, you're correct. Full table at bottom for your review.
Oh - and McDiarmid was a top-100 recruit, by the way. He doesn't stink.
Line: Morg by major (37-0)
285 LBS - Match of the Meet
Jon Gingrich vs. #7 SR Mike McClure
Jon's going to have a fun weekend. And he's going to start it off with a great double leg.
Line: Gingrich pulls out a decision (40-0)
at #11 Michigan (8-2 overall, 4-0 in Big Ten)
When: Super Bowl Sunday, 3:30pm ET
Video: LIVE on BTN
Last Meeting: February 5th, 2012 - two years ago - a 34-7 victory for PSU at Rec Hall
So Michigan may have finally turned the corner. After several consecutive years of top rated recruiting classes, and an influx of cash for new facilities, and hiring some outstanding assistant coaches, Michigan is now riding a wave of new found enthusiasm. They placed 3rd at Midlands, and have rolled off five straight dual wins, including an upset of Minnesota two weeks ago. This should be a fun one.
#2 Nico vs. FR Connor Youtsey (13-7)
I'm pretty sure Youtsey was a Dapper Dan participant. Huh - yep, he was. He wrestled a guy named Nico Megaludis, and lost, 9-3, as the PA seniors beatdown the very best the other 49 states had to offer, 27-18. Also fun from that link? Check out the score of the preliminary bout, WPIAL vs. Michigan. 42-0. Woof.
Line: Nico by decision (3-0)
#16 Jimmy vs. SO Rossi Bruno (13-10)
Bruno was an NCAA qualifier last year. He lost to Jordan Conaway in the wrestlebacks.
Line: Jimmy by decision (6-0)
#2 Zpain vs. #13 SR Stephen Dutton (3-0)
Hello again, Mr. Dutton. When we last saw you, you were wearing a Lehigh singlet, and Andrew Alton was doing this to you (if you're short on time, fast forward to about 1:20).
Line: Zpain by decision (9-0)
149 LBS - Match of the Meet
#8-ish Andrew Alton vs. #7 SR Eric Grajales
Grajales was the #2 overall recruit his senior year, behind David Taylor, and ahead of Kyle Dake. Funny, right?
If Andrew is wrestling this one, then I like Andrew by a 4-5 point margin. If it's Beats, I think Zack can pull the upset. Either way, this should be a good match.
Line: Andrew by decision (12-0)
#4 Dylan Alton vs. #14 FR Brian Murphy (11-2)
Murphy is a true frosh. He missed Midlands, but he's shown very, very well this year. He owns a 5-3 win over Dylan Ness. His two losses? #1 James Green, 7-5 OT; and 2-0 to Illinois' Zac Brunson.
Line: Dylan by decision (15-0)
#1 Taylor vs. #6 SR Dan Yates (14-2)
Yates is an All-American, and a very solid wrestler (obviously). But this is the Magic Man, and he's probably still pissed.
Line: Taylor by tech fall (20-0)
#3 Hulk Hands vs. JR Collin Zeerip (16-7)
Collin is, what, the 16th Zeerip to wrestle for Michigan? How many Zeerips are there? Wrestling: it's a family sport.
Line: Hulk Hands by major (24-0)
#2 Ed vs. #20 FR Domenic Abounader (10-4)
Abounader finished 2-2 at Midlands, DNP. But he held Goldy's Steinhaus to a 12-5 regular decision. So.....
Line: So Fresh by major (28-0)
#7 Morg vs. JR Chris Heald (7-13)
Heald is better than 7-13, so I had to venture over to D1 Wrestling to figure out his story. He started off 0-4 with some terrible results. And, he hasn't really recovered, though his losses have mostly all been to good competition since then. He's dropped 4 to Purdue's Braden Atwood this year. It's still January, and he's wrestled Atwood 4 times already (why yes - let's stage National Duals and have them wrestle again). He got majored by Goldy's Schiller (who looks lights out this season). And he just dropped a 3-1 decision to Sparty's McDiarmid. Heald probably is looking for the reset button on his junior year, but he won't find it this week.
Line: Morg by major (32-0)
Jon vs. #2 FR Adam Coon (23-1)
Coon is a true frosh. A true frosh, rolling with the big boys, and he's beating all of them. Well, almost. He just lost last week, for the first time, to Sparty's McClure. He's a man, he's not a machine. But he's already knocked off Iowa's Telford, Goldy's Nelson, and everyone else who's stood in front of him. He's tough.
Line: Coon by decision (32-3)
So there you go - 20 individual matches this weekend, and I think Penn State goes 19-1, rolling through the state of Michigan by a combined score of 72-3.
Wait a minute. That looks crazy stupid. So....let's be conservative, and call it 69-6. There - much better.
(this Penn State squad is scary good)
Takedowns in Conference