Once every 2 years I get to watch PSU wrestling in person. I am part of a mass migration of wrestling zealots whose fanatism is unmatched. Fans as far as State College travel 6 hours to buy tickets for 4 times asking to watch Goliath. It is marvelous.
This years dual meet was held in the lovely new Covelli Center. Named after Sam and Karyn Covelli whose empire of
South Beach Tanning Salons Panera Breads allowed them the joy of donating $10 million to the construction of the center in 2017. The center usually holds 3700 devout OSU fans. Ohio is a proud sport state, born from years of seeing the state flagship football team either win or be in the discussion for National Championships. Sure, other sports in the buckeye state have won or been favorites, as recently as women’s hockey and women’s synchro (every damn year, seriously look them up, it is insane). But there is a unique pride for osu wrestling, a want to be better, a hope to knock off Goliath and to become that Goliath. Those hopes and that pride fell well short on February 3rd. Here is my recount of the individual matches as best I can recall.
Gary is a hard-nosed kid. Every kid who wrestled has plenty of hardnosedness. How can you not. You’re asked to physically beat someone regardless of how you match up physically. In this case Gary, who is an undersized 125 lber, was asked to compete against a legit 125 lber ranked #10 in the country. I would be shocked if Gary weighed more than 115 lbs. Malik pinned Gary in the first. The Covelli Center went nuts, cheap foam glow sticks were waving obnoxiously. It would be OSU’s high water mark.
Roman Bravo Young is bigger faster and stronger than anyone else in this weight class. These are facts and they are undisputed.
Beau Bartlett looks so much more comfortable at 141. Same quickness and can take anyone down at that weight. Still has difficulty riding and developing a strategy to score on top. But he could catch and release if he wanted to. He is so sudden in his leg attacks, it's like teleportation, like a displacer beast for you D&D nerds. I hope he trusts his offense more because he can use it to make the podium.
Shane Van ness is soooooo close to beating Sammy Sasso. This was a match of red shirt senior against a red shirt freshman, and you wouldn’t know which was which. Shane almost pulled off an ankle pick within the first 30 seconds of the match. It didn’t result in points, but set a tone. I think SVN will be an all American but that’s a long way away and I’m not jinxing anything (but he will be, book it).
Levi Hanes is made from bailing wire and whale bone. He is going to be the old guy that is stronger than kids 1/3 his age. He is long without being lanky, and strong as hell without being bulky. How he weighed 157 without cutting toes off amazes me. But he is strong as bull and if you like mat returns you’ll like Levi, cause Levi has no problem dumping kids onto the mat. Hard. And Often.
Alex Facundo reminds me of Quentin Wright. This comparison may not do either wrestler well. Quentin was bigger than Alex, and Alex is not nearly as funky a wrestler, but for me I see it. Alex wrestled a bear of a human in Carson Kharchla, who is a bit of a local hero from Olentangy Liberty. In the end Alex was too much, too quick, too good. It is a common theme for PSU.
Carter is built different.
Kaleb Romero is also a local hero. Coming out of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, he was first team all-Ohio in football, 3 sport letterman, probably prom king, salutatorian and generally good kid. He is a stout athletic kid, and Brooks pushed him around for three periods. These two know each other well, and Kaleb knows he has never won against Aaron, and probably never will.
Archery Season is still ongoing in Ohio, apparently. Gavin Hoffman found that out the hard way.
Greg had over 4 minutes of riding time and gathered 2 stall warnings from Tate Orndorff. It wasn’t even that close.
And just like that it was over. I had a great time recounting the event with Etta_Blue and other Penn Staters at the nearest pub. Beers were had. Many by some, fewer by others. All of us marveled at the machine Cael Sanderson has constructed. How the freshman are no longer wrestling like freshman, and the upperclassman hammers are finding the nails. And I look forward to seeing Levi, Shane, Gary, Alex and Etta in 2 years.