New-Look Wrestling Team Starts Season with Win Over Lehigh
The four-time defending National Champion Penn State wrestling team kicked off its season with a 24-10 win over No. 17 Lehigh in front of 6,237 at Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon.
Since last season, the team has lost All-Americans David Taylor and Ed Ruth to graduation, and Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford to redshirt years. Because of this, the Nittany Lions started four redshirt freshmen: Garrett Hammond (165 lbs.), Matt McCutcheon (184 lbs.), Kade Moss (141 lbs.), and Cody Law (157 lbs.). Three of the four lost — Hammond was the only victor in a 8-3 decision over Lehigh’s Santiago Martinez — but head coach Cael Sanderson wasn’t discouraged by his young team’s performance.
“I thought our effort was good,” said Sanderson. “I thought our freshmen went out there and went after it. We made a few mistakes, obviously… Some of out freshmen got beat on the mat so that’s an area we need to work on. But I thought our guys fought through the match, our freshmen did well in the third period staying strong. That’s good to see.”
The match was highlighted by an upset of No. 2 Mason Beckman by redshirt sophomore and eighth-ranked Jimmy Gulibon.
The first period began as many feared it would, as Beckman got a quick take-down off the start, leaving Gulibon down by two points. He escaped, but Beckman had already amassed 1:22 in riding time. With seconds left on the clock, Gulibon made his move. Within moments, he had a takedown that ended with Beckman on his back. Time expired before Gulibon could obtain a pin, but not before he got 3 back points, giving him a 5-2 advantage heading into the second period.
In the second, Gulibon chose to start down and quickly escaped, upping his lead to 6-2. A take-down soon after gave him his final points as time went out. The third period was made up of a Beckman escape after choosing to start down, but no one could get an offensive edge for a point. As the crowd cheered on, Gulibon started his season off with the biggest victory of his career.
“Jimmy is good,” Sanderson said. “He knows how to wrestle. He’s tough, and he did what he does. [He fell] behind early, but [he kept] his poise, earned an escape, and scored in short time… I’m very happy for him, it was a good start for him.”
“I felt pretty strong,” said Gulibon. “We wrestled a good bit my freshman year, and last year we wrestled once. Every time [we wrestled] it was fun. It felt good [to win], and it was fun just to go out there and wrestle.”
At 175, No. 3 Matt Brown continued his dominant form from last season, as he was able to pin Lehigh’s Marshall Peppleman only 4:01 into the bout. Brown was the only Nittany Lion to gain bonus points for the Nittany Lions. At 197, No. 4 Morgan McIntosh defeated No. 18 Elliott Riddick. The two seniors led the team out of the tunnel before the match, and Brown had nothing but positives to say about the experience and his teammates.
“It was a ton of fun to wrestle in front of Rec Hall, and it makes it that much better to get a pin,” said Brown. “It was an awesome atmosphere… It was exciting because we had so many freshmen wrestling. Their youth brought a lot of excitement.”
“It was fun for me and Morgan. We used to be roommates, we’re good friends, and we recognize that we have to be leaders on the team. I’m grateful that I can help the team in whatever capacity I can.”
125: No. 12 Jordan Conaway (PSU) defeated Scott Parker (Lehigh) by decision, 4-3
133: No. 8 Jimmy Gulibon (PSU) defeated No. 2 Mason Beckman (Lehigh) by decision, 8-3
141: Randy Cruz (Lehigh) defeated Kade Moss (PSU) by decision, 8-2
149: No. 16 Zack Beitz (PSU) defeated Drew Longo (Lehigh) by decision, 8-2
157: Dylan Milonas (Lehigh) defeated Cody Law (PSU) by decision, 2-1
165: Garett Hammond (PSU) defeated Santiago Martinez (Lehigh) by decision, 8-3
174: No. 3 Matt Brown (PSU) pinned Marshall Peppleman (Lehigh) at 4:01
184: No. 3 Nate Brown (Lehigh) defeated Matt McCutcheon (PSU) by major decision, 10-2
197: No. 4 Morgan McIntosh (PSU) defeated No. 18 Elliott Riddick (Lehigh) by decision, 4-3
285: No. 7 Jon Gingrich (PSU) defeated Doug Vollaro (Lehigh) by decision, 3-1