Wrestling Seeks To Continue Big Ten Tournament Dominance
While much of campus heads home for spring break, the Nittany Lion wrestlers will head to Columbus, Ohio this weekend for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships. The Lions enter the tournament with no No. 1 seeds, but are still well-represented across the board. The team will be looking to make a strong statement with the NCAA championships looming close behind.
Despite winning the last four Big Ten Championships, the Lions enter this tournament with lower expectations than in previous years, with many pundits looking towards Iowa and Ohio State as the teams to beat. Lowered fan expectations may take some pressure off the team, but they are still very aware of the legacy behind them as they enter the tournament.
“The guys who have passed through these rooms the last four years have set a very high standard and we’re looking to follow it,” said senior heavyweight Jimmy Lawson.
The Lions’ Morgan McIntosh and Matt Brown both enter as No. 2 seeds after stellar seasons. Jimmy Gulibon also checks in as a No. 3 seed. No other Lion is seeded higher than fifth. Penn State brings a youthful team into Columbus with five Lions wrestling in the Big Ten Championships for the first time. Head coach Cael Sanderson remains confident that his team can get the job done despite its relative lack of experience.
“I don’t look at these guys as freshmen. They are who they are,” Sanderson said. “They’ve gotten themselves to this point and now we just continue on.”
The Big Ten remains the premier conference in college wrestling, and so this tournament will provide the Lions’ wrestlers the ultimate tune-up before the NCAA championships. Even so, no one is looking past this weekend. Nittany Lion wrestling has dominated the Big Ten for the past four years and will look to continue that level of domination despite entering a bit overlooked.
Wrestler(s) to Watch
Matt Brown and Morgan McIntosh
Penn State’s senior studs enter their final Big Ten Championship weekend with a chip on their shoulders. Both Brown and McIntosh are two of the absolute best wrestlers in the nation, and will look to inspire their teammates by continuing to dominate the postseason. The stellar seniors have fourteen pins between them on the year. Brown will be looking for his second Big Ten title while McIntosh wants to upstage his runner-up performance in last year’s Big Ten 197-lb. tournament by bringing home his first individual Big Ten Championship.
What to Expect
Despite something of a drop-off this season compared to their recent dominance, the Nittany Lions have been extremely competitive in every single match this season. There is no reason to believe that they won’t keep that up here. Entering Columbus and pulling out a championship title over a team like the Iowa Hawkeyes will be a tall order. Even so, don’t count out a dynasty. Penn State can still pull this off.
Here is the full list of the PSU wrestlers’ seeds:
Jordan Conaway (125 lbs.) — #5
Jimmy Gulibon (133 lbs.) — #3
Kade Moss (141 lbs.) — #9
Zach Beitz (149 lbs.) — #6
Luke Frey (157 lbs.) — #9
Garrett Hammond (165 lbs.) — #6
Matt Brown (174 lbs.) — #2
Matt McCutcheon (184 lbs.) — #8
Morgan McIntosh (197 lbs.) — #2
Jimmy Lawson (285 lbs.) — #5