Nittany Lions Remains No. 1 in Wrestling Despite Losing to No. 3 Iowa
Intermat Wrestling released its weekly rankings today, keeping Penn State ranked as the top team in the country, while Iowa pushed ahead of Oklahoma State for the No. 2 spot. Penn State lost to Iowa on Friday night but followed up the disappointing loss with a strong 37-0 win over No. 6 Illinois.
The likely reason that Intermat chose to keep Penn State ranked No. 1 is that the rankings are based off of the team’s NCAA Tournament strength, not their dual meet strength. Additionally, losing to Iowa in the Hawkeyes’ home arena is like losing to Penn State at Beaver Stadium — the crowd atmosphere really gives Iowa a home field advantage, especially in situations like Jon Gingrich was in where he was the underdog in the heavyweight match which would have won the match for Penn State.
Luckily, Penn State dominates tournament style duals, coming out on top in high profile tournaments such as the Southern Scuffle, despite missing the Alton brothers. Penn State’s roster is deep, with wrestlers like 149/157 weight James English and 157 James Vollrath who both stepped up in the absence of the Alton brothers in early January. Heavyweights Gingrich and Jimmy Lawson have both been ranked at different points throughout the season, giving Penn State strength at a weight class that many did not have confidence in.
Dylan Alton moved up from No. 8 to No. 7 in the 149 weight class, while Matt Brown fell from No. 4 to No. 5 after losing to No. 6 Mike Evans in the 174 weight class. All other ranked wrestlers remained the same.
Penn State has two away duals this upcoming weekend — No. 15 Pitt and No. 6 Ohio State. Penn State returns to Rec Hall to face No. 49 Rider on February 17th and finish out the regular season schedule away at No. 41 Rutgers.
Two years ago, the Nittany Lions lost to Iowa before winning their first national wrestling championship. Perhaps a repeat of 2011 is in store next month.