After a strong showing against Iowa a week ago, Penn State looked lost in a battle with top-10 ranked Oklahoma State. Sure, the match came down to Heavyweight, and sure Jon Gingrich almost upset 5th ranked Austin Marsden, but he didn't and the final score would not have been even close if not for a stunning pin of returning national runner-up Josh Kindig by Zack Beitz. Beitz and Jimmy Gulibon both got pins, which should have given Penn State plenty of breathing room for the victory--but it didn't. Let's quickly look at the results.
Gulibon looks like he's truly stepped up to the next level. He's beating or at least right there with the top guys at 133, and he's destroying guys he should. Exhibit A:
John Wayne Gacy Gary Wane Harding. Harding came out with a lot of fire and motion trying to get Gulibon off balance out of the gate. Gulibon looked like a Lion (the literal type, not the Nittany type), slowly stalking Harding, keeping balance and waiting for an opening. A couple fake shots by Harding and Gulibon pounced and converted a strong single leg takedown. Gulibon then looked to turn Harding but was unable and gave up the escape. It wasn't long before Gulibon secured his second takedown and, as the 1st period ran out, had Harding on his back and almost pinned. Gulibon chose down to start the 2nd, reversed Harding, put him on his back, and finished the pin.
Beitz showed a lot of funk to get out of a few bad situations early in his bout with Kindig. Kindig was definitely the aggressor and appeared to have a takedown early, but Beitz used a scramble to come out on top of Kindig--although he didn't have control. The initial takedown was awarded to Kindig, but Penn State challenged and the call was overturned. The period ended scoreless but not before Beitz had to fight off another solid Kindig shot as the period wound down. It appeared Kindig was aware of Beitz's ankle pick because Zack attempted it a couple times but was never really close to finishing. Beitz chose down to start the 2nd and rolled through to gain control of Kindig's leg and while going for the reversal hit a standing cradle, took Kindig to his back and pinned the former national runner up. That took all the wind out of the Okie State fans.
Brown had to go to overtime to beat No. 11 Klye Crutchmer and some may think that Brown should have won more handily but Crutchmer was lucky to get to overtime. Crutchmer took exactly two shots the entire match. Unfortunately, he scored takedowns on both of them and I think Matt Brown would tell you he got lazy in both cases. One came at the edge of the mat after a Crutchmer escape and the other was a desperation shot from long range as time was running out with a 2-point lead for Brown. The latter was pretty bad, but here's the thing; when the two wrestlers stepped to the center circle for overtime the only thing going through my head is: Matt Brown's got this. I have all the confidence in Brown this year, especially in tight situations late (or overtime). After a scramble that never really had Brown in trouble, Matt came out on top and got the winning takedown.
McIntosh beat unranked Luke Bean 6-1 but couldn't get any bonus. I'll say this, Bean's only job was to not get pinned. He spent the entire match staying away from Morgan and did what he needed to do. There was really nothing Morgan can do when a wrestler doesn't want to wrestle. Morgan could have taken more shots, especially early on, to try and force stalls but that wouldn't have changed the outcome by much.
Sanderson sent Jon Gingrich to the mat with the score tied at 18. The only scoring in regulation was a reversal by Gingrich and two escapes by Marsden. Jon was the aggressor, taking the most shots but couldn't convert. In sudden victory it was more of Gingrich taking the shots but neither wrestler scored. The first tie breaker period saw Marsden getting a iffy reversal that was reviewed but not overturned. Down 2, Gingrich got the escape and had Marsden's leg but couldn't convert. Amazingly, Jon was called for stalling (on top) in this bout but Marsden was never hit even though I don't recall him ever taking a single shot. It looks like heavyweight is still undecided.
Hammond lost to No. 1-ranked Alex Dieringer by major (14-4). I list this in the "bad" section not because I expected Hammond to win, but he lost to Dieringer by major early in the season and one would hope that he would of closed the gap a little but that wasn't the case.
Jordan Conaway lost to Eddie Kilmara by an 8-7 score which alone doesn't seem that bad given Kilmara is ranked right behind Conaway at No.9. The problem is that Jordan had this match well in hand but got caught for 3 nearfall points and couldn't recover. Conaway should have won this bout, but made one bad mistake. Again, at this time of year you hope these types of wrinkles would already be ironed out.
Oh boy, you want to talk about ugly.
Matt McCutcheon faced a wrestler ranked one spot ahead of him (18) but you wouldn't know it if you watched the match. McCutcheon got thoroughly dominated in a 4-0 loss. He never came close to scoring and was unable to even score a single point getting ridden the entire 3rd period. I emailed Scaff after this match and basically told him he can stop having blind faith in McCutcheon. At this point I don't see him making it out of the Big's.
Sanderson was quoted as saying he was "tired of guessing" and wanted to see "where Dylan (Alton) was." Well, we definitely have our answer because Alton got tech falled by a 24-9 score... to the 18th-ranked wrestler... and he nearly got disqualified because of stall calls. Alton got taken down 8 times and looked utterly gassed by the end of the 1st period... THE 1ST!!! Time is running out on the Alton project; a healthy backup is a far better option than what we saw yesterday. Maybe it's time to move on from the Alton brothers.
Amazingly, in a match that turned out so bad for Penn State it was a far more exciting match then the Iowa snoozer a week ago. There were 3 overtime bouts, 2 falls, a tech fall and a major decision. There were several controversial calls, a handful of replays and (as always) inconsistent officiating. This was probably the worst meet of the season for Penn State (collectively). Those aren't my words, those are Sanderson's: "It clearly did not go well, probably the worst match of the season for us. We have some thinking to do this next week.''