Penn State Wrestling’s Newcomers Shine In Dual Debuts
Four Penn State wrestlers made their debuts for the Nittany Lions in a resounding win over Navy Sunday afternoon. Each of these first-time competitors took care of business, winning their individual bouts and securing the shutout win for Penn State.
Junior Luke Gardner has waited for his shot for several years. He was sitting behind three-time national champion Zain Retherford up until last year, when he found himself behind Brady Berge and Jarod Verkleeren.
“I’ve just been staying the course and doing everything the coaches asked me to do, so when the time presented itself I jumped on it and I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” Gardner said.
Gardner showed that he was prepared for his dual debut as he pinned Navy’s Jon Park in less than two minutes at his bout at 149 lbs. He wasted no time in showing Penn State fans just what he is capable of doing on the mat.
Starting in the place of Shakur Rasheed, who is still recovering from an injury he sustained last season, Creighton Edsell wrestled in front of a sold-out Rec Hall crowd. Edsell pulled out a gritty 5-2 victory over Andrew Buckley.
The 184-pound redshirt freshman was awed by the crowd’s reaction to his win. He said he’ll always remember the official raising his arm.
“It was an awesome feeling. It was definitely energetic,” said Edsell, a native of Wyalusing. “Coming from a really small town, you really didn’t have that back where I was from.”
Brody Teske was the other redshirt freshman to make his dual debut, squaring off against Navy’s Logan Treaster. Teske earned a win in his first start at 125 lbs. with a score of 2-1. His winning point came from a stalling call in the third period, but it would have been nice to see some more offense from the four-time Iowa state champion. Still, he finished the job.
The last Nittany Lion to debut in the Penn State singlet was senior Kent State transfer Kyle Conel. Using his sixth year of eligibility to wrestle for the Nittany Lions, Conel got off to a great start by capturing a 4-3 victory against Navy’s Jacob Koser. The 197-pound Conel displayed loads of strength and tremendous defense in his victory on Sunday afternoon.
In addition to the four newcomers, Bo Pipher filled in for Brady Berge, who’s still recovering from an injury sustained in freestyle a few weeks back, at 157 lbs. In a 45-0 blowout, Pipher provided arguably the best match of the afternoon, winning a tight, 7-6 decision over Scout Skidgel. Pipher scored a takedown in the closing seconds of the first period to go up on Skidgel 5-4, before breaking a 6-6 tie off an escape with two seconds remaining in the bout to win.
Penn State’s lineup on Sunday will not be the same lineup throughout the season, as starters are injured and others may win wrestle offs to find their way onto the mat.
However, the team’s new additions and the competitors who earned their spots in the lineup on Sunday proved themselves to be worthy in their respective weight classes.
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Garcia is the first known Penn State student to die after contracting the virus.
“We really have no other choice but to put on a smile on our face and kind of just roll with the punches.”
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