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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)

Wt.         Name

125         #11 Brad Pataky

Nathan Morgan

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

Justin Ortega

285         #5 Cameron Wade


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


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

About the Author

Tim Owen

I am originally from a very small town in northeastern Pennsyltucky, called Athens. Currently, I am enrolled in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism and major in print journalism.

I have a passion for sports, and more specifically football. I enjoy hunting, cooking, food, and everything Penn State!


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