Penn State’s loss to Iowa…A Good Thing?
Entering Sunday’s dual meet against Iowa, the reality of Penn State halting the Hawkeye’s 72-match unbeaten streak never seemed so likely.
But the NCAA champions of three-straight seasons had other plans.
In front of a whiteout crowd of nearly 7,000 Nittany Lion faithful Iowa took it to the young Nittany Lion wrestling squad with a 22-13 thumping in Rec. Hall.
“It kind of sucks because there was just so much built up for this match with so much hype,” said redshirt junior Frank Molinaro after the loss. “It’s not the end of the world. I mean, it hurts pretty bad but its motivation and an eye-opener.”
An eye-opener indeed.
See, college wrestling is a unique breed of sport. Although so much emphasis is placed on regular-season dual meets, they don’t have much bearing on the end-of-the-season results.
Instead, dual meets are the means to an end, or in Cael Sanderson’s case, a national championship. They give the wrestlers multiple opportunities to test themselves against the nation’s top wrestlers.
And in this case, the Midwestern beating the Nittany Lions received Sunday gives them a perfect ruler to measure their performance. And for now, the Lions still falls short of being the country’s best team.
“The loss isn’t that big of a deal, although we hate losing,” Sanderson said after the match. “It’s just we weren’t at our best tonight, and I think it will be good in the long run. But right now it just stinks.”
So, how does losing six of the afternoon’s 10 matches result in anything positive?
Undefeated freshman David Taylor said it all depends on what happens in the practice room, and how his teammates respond to the first adversity of the season.
For Taylor, he doesn’t see that as being much of a problem.
“We have great coaches, and we have great leadership on our team,” Taylor said after the match. “Maybe this was a good thing for us maybe not, but we’re going to be ready to go. I can tell you that.”
Well, I’ll believe you, DT, but with the Big Ten Tournament (“where it really matters”) just over a month away (March 5-6) time is ticking.
But Molinaro said as long as the attitude stays positive on the squad, his Nittany Lions will make a quick rebound.
And if that proves true, then Iowa might have done nothing more than awake a sleeping giant.
“I just think today wasn’t the day for some of our guys, and it should have been,” Molinaro said. “You can either feel sorry for yourself, or turn around and crush everyone in the Big Ten and win the Big Ten and win nationals.”