The Penn State coaching staff have mastered the mental aspect of wrestling.
Obviously, they manage to get “up” for duals that might not be the toughest challenges. Pin, tech, pin, major - foot on the gas, no let down, dual over quickly. That’s become tradition.
But how about this past Saturday? Ten days (or more) of hype for “the super bowl” of dual meets. The opponent, Ohio State, talks endless trash on twitter for 5 straight days. The Rec Hall venue. The lighting. The music. The ear-splitting roar of the berserk crowd, which clearly was barely restrained from jumping out of Row 6 and double-legging anyone wearing red or gray. How do you, as a wrestler, not exhaust yourself physically, just from the raging emotion of the anticipation?
Watch the video below, and note the differences on the faces of the two squads at entrance.
From the locker room to the mat.— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) February 6, 2018
Make the walk with Ohio State as they enter a sold out Rec Hall. pic.twitter.com/J4orUSk9r4
The Buckeyes take a movie warrior’s pose - stone faced but emotionally jacked thru the roof. Just how Mel Gibson would direct it, minus the Scottish broadswords and axes.
Penn State? Penn State jogs out with a bunch of grins on their faces. What in the world are they grinning about? How does the PSU coaching staff manage that?!
What was your mental state at the start of this dual, friends? I can tell you that I was ready to eat nails and ask for seconds. Itching, begging for a fight, on the lunatic fringe. I wasn’t alone, either. Listen to the crowd literally EXPLODE when Carson Kuhn hits his righty headlock on Tomasello, launching him into the Blaise Alexander auction sign in front of the scorer’s table.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Ohio State squad was overly jacked - which is natural. Of course you’re overly jacked. Who wouldn’t be for this dual? Unfortunately for them, it seems the Ohio State coaching staff did little to address it. Consequently - particularly by the time the upper weights finally took the mat 90+ minutes after the national anthem - their green energy meters weren’t topped off at 100. Fair assessment? Probably pretty fair.
Conversely, Penn State? Penn State looked sharp, start to finish. Calm, “present” - whatever you want to call it, the coaches didn’t allow 10 days of hype and 6 days of twitter fingers and 3 hours of raging emotion to drain their wrestlers’ energy even a little bit.
How does the 3-time World and Olympic champion give up the first takedown? That’s how. The Penn State coaching staff had their guy ready, while the Ohio State coaching staff didn’t - and that was a key difference in the dual.
Cael, Cody, Casey, and Varner - take a bow, fellas.
I’m convinced that whichever squad of wrestlers those 4 were coaching Saturday night, that squad would have won the dual. Awfully glad they’re in blue-and-white.
By the way - “fun”? You know - all of the “fun” comments the media and opposing fans make, as if it’s some kind of insult, or a bunch of make believe? Well, critics - that was “fun” in a nutshell Saturday night. One side was razor-edged, the other looked like they were wearing concrete shoes. That’s “fun”. (Which was pretty fun for me! So keep ignoring sports psychology. Cael will continue collecting championships)
To the individual rankings
|B1G Rank||YR||125 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guessitmated Automatic Bids: 8, 9 or 10.
Tomasello still needs to wrestle a couple of matches to be eligible for a Coaches’ Rank, and with Tom Ryan at the helm, there’s no guarantee he wrestles them. Elijah Oliver (Indiana) is also at risk of dropping out the Coaches Rank in the next release (and is borderline with Win%). Worst case scenario - neither gets ranked, both fail to bring a bid, and Carson Kuhn has to place top 8 at the conference tournament. Safe bet is “9”, but “10” is still likely.
|B1G Rank||YR||133 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 7
Blue Mountain’s Corey Keener looks to be squarely on the bubble here at 133. He doesn’t - yet - have any wins that figure to qualify as “quality”. But he’ll get another chance in 12-ish days, when Buffalo’s Bryan Lantry visits Rec Hall. Even so, Corey probably also needs to beat Iowa this weekend, and probably win at least 2 matches at Big Tens to have a solid shot at an “at-large” selection, should he fail to secure an auto-bid at the conference tournament.
Or, you know, just place top 7 at B1Gs, and we don’t have to sweat out the at-large announcements. Corey can get it done.
|B1G Rank||YR||141 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|10||FR||Van Brill (RUT)||24||12-9||3-7||2-5||0|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: whew...maybe 9? Whole lotta guys on the bubble here. Won’t matter a lick to our Nick Lee.
Joey McKenna saavy-veteran’d his way past true frosh Nick Lee Saturday night, and claims the top seed in our bracket at 141. No further comment on that match.
Unfortunately for Joey, Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn got inside tripped in the final 10 seconds at Iowa, and lost. That might - might - be enough to drop Tommy Guns to the 4-seed - pairing him on Joey’s side of the bracket at B1Gs. Which would be what Hindus call “karma”.
|B1G Rank||YR||149 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: who cares, we have Zain.
We done here? I think we’re done here. Let’s move along.
|B1G Rank||YR||157 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|8||JR||Van Brill (RUT)||19||13||16-8||4-4||3-3||1|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: let’s call it 8.
Re-watch the video at the top, and listen to the crowd roar as Nolf comes out on crutches.
As far as seeding, Pantaleo beat Tyler Berger (comfortably) last weekend, and climbs back up the table. He’ll have a big match with OSU’s Mick Jordan this weekend. Win, and he likely secures the 3-seed. Lose, and Mick probably jumps from 6 to 3. With Nolf and Mikey Kemerer missing matches due to injury, this weight’s a challenge to seed.
|B1G Rank||YR||165 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 10 or 11. A whole bunch.
All of that stuff written above, about the PSU staff keeping their squad calm and energy topped off? Well, they don’t get credit for Cenzo. Pretty sure Cenzo’s just naturally goofy. The kid’s smiling and joking around during the match, while he’s kicking the crap out of you. (And wow, did he look sharp last Saturday, huh?)
In any event, yet another big match for Cenzo this weekend, as Iowa’s Alex Marinelli visits the BJC for the first time. Like Cenzo, Marinelli has concrete hips. Should be an awesome match.
|B1G Rank||YR||174 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 8
Johnny Sebastian’s rolled up a perfect 7-0 mark in conference duals. But I can’t bring myself to seed him ahead of Michigan’s Myles Amine. The top 3 here sure seem to be a cut above the rest.
There’s apparently another “cut” that starts at number six. Purdue’s Dylan Lydy isn’t going away, and has proven himself better than everyone below him. He’s the solid 5-seed in our book. After that, things get really messy.
|B1G Rank||YR||184 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 8
We have Bo, and hooray for that.
Number two in conference is up for grabs this weekend, in Ann Arbor. That one (between Martin and Abounader) could be interesting.
|B1G Rank||YR||197 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 6 or 7
If you combine Cassar and Shak, they’re a perfect 8-0 in conference. Will one or the other get the top seed at B1Gs? No idea. Probably not, but maybe. Either way, one or the other has to beat Iowa’s Cash Wilcke this weekend, which won’t be a walk in the park. Let’s punt the seeding and starter discussion to next week, after the Iowa dual.
|B1G Rank||YR||285 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Coaches||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Guesstimated Automatic Bids: 7
I need to be clear. I’m a huge Kyle Snyder fan. Bigly. Great human being, great wrestler, freakish athlete, strong-like-bull, would love to have him at the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in blue-and-white.
But if I hear Tom Ryan cry about the Hodge Trophy again this year, I’m gonna lose it. Any argument Tom might fabricate just got walloped Saturday night, when the best collegiate wrestler scored bonus to push his team to victory.