There aren't many rarities for the Penn State wrestling team these days. But one happened this weekend, when the Nittany Lions had a rare Saturday afternoon dual meet. Yet when all was said and done, no surprises emerged from the day.
The Nittany Lions cruised passed Lock Haven 42-3 on the strength of four pins -- three of them coming after the intermission -- to secure their fourth victory of the season.
Performance of the Day
There weren't many standout matches from Saturday's blowout. But Ed Ruth's stealthy technical fall over Fred Garcia Jr. (in 4:55) at 184 summed up what the junior can do anywhere, at anytime. Trailing 10-1 in the second period, Garcia looked primed to take Ruth down for the first time in the match. But Ruth had other ideas, coming up underneath Garcia with a low single and squeezing around him for unlikely takedown. In the words of Penn State wrestling radio announcer Jeff Byers, It was something only Ed Ruth could do. Ruth one-upped himself to end the match, though, allowing Garcia to escape and shooting in for another near takedown before the pair somersaulted to the far edge of the mat, with Ruth ending up behind Garcia to secure the Nittany Lions' first tech fall of the afternoon.
Though Penn State led 16-3 at intermission after Dylan Alton finished off Jake Kemerer by decision, 5-2, at 157 pounds, the Nittany Lions were slow to get going, receiving two stall warnings during the match's first five bouts. At times they looked lethargic in their first match in a week. I didn't know what to expect out of Lock Haven today, but they are getting better and making progress, and they pushed us around and had more fire, so you have to give them credit for that, PSU coach Cael Sanderson said. You don't like that attitude, and we have to make that decision to go out there and be ready to go regardless of who we're wrestling.
It was not the same scenario in the Nittany Lions' upper weights, though, where only heavyweight Jimmy Lawson wrestled the full seven minutes. Only Lawson and 195-pounder Quentin Wright wrestled into the third period after the break. David Taylor came out strong at 165-pounds and decked Aaron McKinney in the second period at 3:39, and 174-pounder Matt Brown fell in line with another fall against Zach Heffner in 4:55. Ruth then stopped Garcia and Wright pinned Phil Sprenkle (6:10) before Jimmy Lawson finished things off at heavyweight with a 5-1 victory over Harry Turner. Cael comes in the back and comes up to us personally and puts a little hate in our ear, Ruth said. That gets us fired up, and it kind of picks at your head a little bit.
Fall of the Match
Taylor is no stranger to recording a match's fastest fall, and he did it again against McKinney. Leading 8-0 early in the second period, Taylor exposed McKinney's shoulders to the mat for three near-fall points and then used an arm bar to ignite the Rec Hall crowd.
Shifting to the Scuffle
Penn State won't wrestle again until it heads to the Southern Scuffle in January. The Scuffle is easier for us to get to than the Midlands, or at least it used to be, and it also used to be a tournament with a lot of Big Ten teams, Sanderson said when asked why he preferred the Scuffle over the Midlands. The tradition there is great, too, and you see a lot of teams we'd like to see but normally wouldn't. They do a great job running it, and that's why we keep going back. Sanderson also revealed that heavyweight Nick Ruggear, who has yet to wrestle this season due to injury, will compete in a few weeks. We're not quite there with the heavyweight decision, and we're getting Ruggear back at the Scuffle, Sanderson said. As for the heavyweight decision, the Scuffle will be a big deal.
Cornell head coach Rob Kohl was quoted in The New York Times Saturday as saying Some people already think that Kyle is the best college wrestler in the history of the sport, referring to his 157-pound standout Kyle Dake, who bested Taylor in an All-Star tournament before the season began and already has three national titles to his name. But with Sanderson's lengthy list of accomplishments that set him apart in collegiate wrestling lure, he wouldn't address Kohl's comments directly. He's pretty dang good, Sanderson said of Dake. I'm not a historian or anything, and David's trying to figure out how to beat him because he wants to be a national champion. But there's a lot of wrestling left.
Penn State won the takedown battle 27-6 to go along with 15 bonus points that came on the strength of four falls, a technical fall and a major decision.