Penn State Wrestling Amped For Big Ten Test Against ‘Strong’ Rutgers Lineup

Penn State wrestling couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start to the new year.

Cael Sanderson’s group opened 2022 with a dominant 46-0 victory over Maryland this past Friday in College Park, and returned to Rec Hall on Sunday to take down Indiana by double digits.

Despite missing top-ranked wrestlers Roman Bravo-Young and Nick Lee due to illness, other Nittany Lions stepped up when needed to help the group improve to 10-0 on the season. With two solid Big Ten wins behind them, Sanderson’s group now stares down a list of several worthy conference opponents.

Penn State will obviously call upon plenty of talent within its deep lineup during this stretch. One of those most important wrestlers will be Beau Bartlett, who’s competed in every dual this season at 149 pounds and holds an 8-2 record. Most recently, the sophomore from Arizona grabbed a 6-4 win over Hoosier Graham Rooks.

Bartlett secured a pin just a few days before that against Maryland, and took down No. 12 Kyle Parco of Arizona State in the Collegiate Wrestling Duals just before Christmas.

“These duals against big teams — it’s really exciting. I love this energy,” Bartlett said earlier this week. “I used to say the same thing in middle school and high school, pretty much every age division, I was like ‘Man I live for these big matches. I love them.’ Since coming to college, I’ve tried to create a lot more energy and bring that same energy to each match.

“When it is time to go, I bring it no matter what,” Bartlett added.

It’ll certainly be time to go once again at 5 p.m. this Sunday when Penn State welcomes a talented Rutgers team to Rec Hall. The Scarlet Knights are 11-1 on the year, their only loss coming against Wisconsin this past weekend, and come in at No. 17 in InterMat’s dual meet rankings.

Rutgers also has five wrestlers ranked in InterMat’s top 25 of their respective weight classes, including No. 3 Sebastian Rivera at 141 pounds. Along with the senior Rivera, the Scarlet Knights have seen dominance from No. 5 John Poznanski at 184 pounds and No. 7 Greg Bulsak at 197.

For Sanderson and the rest of his team, the high level of competition at so many weight classes is nothing but exciting.

“There’s just a lot of great matches,” Sanderson said. “Rutgers has a very strong lineup. They’ve been crushing it this year…Rutgers is getting better and better, and they have some really good kids on their team. It’s just one of those dual meets where we just need everybody’s best effort.

“When we start competing, that’s when we can really start making progress with our guys,” Sanderson added. “Then they really see strengths and maybe some weaknesses they can work on, and things they can correct.”

This is hardly the first challenging opponent Penn State has seen this season. Sanderson’s group took down a tough Lehigh squad in early December, and wrestled a host of talented lineups just a few weeks later in Niceville, Fla. The Collegiate Wrestling Duals culminated in a 29-10 victory over an Arizona State team that’s currently ranked No. 6 in the nation.

With Rutgers on the docket and duals against powerhouses such as Iowa and Ohio State on the horizon, there’s no shortage of challenges that remain. However, in classic Penn State wrestling fashion, Sanderson and the rest of the coaches’ mindsets stay constant with seven duals left in the regular season.

“We just want to compete with enthusiasm and just be consistent,” Sanderson said. “We don’t care if it’s the lowest-rated team or the highest-rated team. We just want to be the same person every time we compete, and wrestle the same way — same enthusiasm.

“That’s the fun part as a coach. We just prepare these guys and try to pump them up, make sure they know they’re ready, make sure they’re in shape, and have everything they need to be successful. But it’s up to them. These are their goals and this is their team.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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