Wrestlers Look to Bounce Back in Big Ten
The life of a Big Ten wrestler is no walk in the park. It is more like a walk through a continuous briar patch with the eight other teams ranked in the top 25 of the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. For Penn State, this week’s thorns are Michigan State and No. 13 Michigan.
Coming off their first defeat of the season, the Nittany Lions are heading west to square off against the Spartans Friday night. Then, for a rematch, Penn State will head to Ann Arbor for Sunday’s dual meet against the ranked Wolverines.
Fresh off that 22-13 loss to Iowa last Sunday, the Nittany Lions are hungry to return to their winning ways.
At Tuesday’s practice, head coach Cael Sanderson spoke about how disheartening the defeat was, and how his grapplers will respond to the adversity.
“We want to beat everybody,” Sanderson said. “We want to beat Cornell. We want to beat Michigan State on Friday and Michigan on Sunday. A loss is a loss, but there is no question when you have the hype going into a big dual, you want to represent and be at your best. We weren’t, but that is life and you have to move on”
This weekend the squad “moves on” to a pair of Big Ten opponents who could prove to be a challenge for the Nits. Friday’s opponent Michigan State just knocked off No. 19 Illinois, and they are riding a record of 9-4 (1-3 Big Ten).
Ranked at No. 19, heavyweight Mike McClure is the only ranked wrestler on their starting lineup. So, it will take plenty of individual upsets for them to knock off Penn State. A rising freshman with an 18-5 record, McClure will find Penn State’s No. 5 Cameron Wade Friday night.
Sporting a 22-3 record, Wade arguably has the roughest road through the Wolverine State this weekend. After facing McClure on Friday, Wade will draw Michigan’s No. 10 Ben Apland on Sunday. But Wade cruised past Apland earlier in the season at the Virginia Duals with a win by decision.
Besides Wade, true freshman No. 7 Andrew Alton also runs into a buzz saw on Sunday when he faces Kellen Russell, the top-ranked 141 pounder in the country.
Last week, Alton dropped his third loss of the season to 2010 NCAA runner-up Montell Marion. His other two losses? Michigan’s Russell, by a total of two combined points.
Counting Michigan’s six ranked wrestlers, 131-pound No. 9 Andrew Long, 157-pound No. 3 David Taylor, 165-pound Jake Kemerer, and 197-pound Nick Ruggear or Justin Ortega also will face a top-20 wrestler.
Here is a look at the probable lineups for all three teams:
#3 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (13-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
125 #11 Brad Pataky
133 #9 Andrew Long
141 #7 Andrew Alton
149 #5 Frank Molinaro
157 #3 David Taylor
165 Jake Kemerer
174 #2 Ed Ruth
184 #14 Quentin Wright
197 Nick Ruggear
285 #5 Cameron Wade
MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (9-4, 1-3 BIG TEN)
125 Eric Olanowski
133 Levi Stace
OR Chris Lyon
141 Joel Trombly
149 Dan Osterman
157 Sean McMurray
165 Ben Boudro
OR Bobby Nash
174 Curran Jacobs
184 Ian Hinton
197 Tyler Dickenson
285 #19 Mike McClure
OR Joe Rizqallah
#13 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (9-2, 4-0 BIG TEN)*
125 Sean Boyle
133 #19 Zac Stevens
141 #1 Kellen Russell
149 Eric Grajales
157 #20 Brandon Zeerip
165 #19 Dan Yates
174 Justin Zeerip
184 Hunter Collins
197 #10 Anthony Biondo
285 #10 Ben Apland
* Michigan is at Wisconsin on Feb. 4
Indiv. rankings Intermat/Team rankings NWCA as of 2/1