No. 1 Penn State Wrestling’s Weight Class Shifts Paying Dividends Early On
Fresh off of its first win of the season Friday over Lock Haven, Penn State wrestling is basking in its new and successful lineup. Three Nittany Lions made their debuts, while a number of others finally found their place in the starting lineup.
Perhaps most notably, Beau Bartlett made his way to the mat wrestling at 141 pounds and also is down from his previous position in the 149-pound weight class. The junior makes the jump after a 15-10 record last season and a 1-2 record during the NCAA championship.
“The guys are lighter,” Bartlett said. “I feel like I can really move my opponents around a lot more efficiently, and that with my mentality that I want to attack, and I know I have the ability to. Those two things together — it’s unstoppable.”
Friday’s bout against Lock Haven’s Ty Linsenbigler, where Bartlett dominated 10-0, was the most points that Bartlett has scored in over a year. But when asked about the performance, he gave himself a “C.”
“One takedown in three minutes, that’s OK. It’s better than one takedown in 11 minutes, but again, [it’s] wanting to push the pace and get more turns and be more comfortable on top,” Bartlett said.
While Bartlett can be seen as a more seasoned veteran in this relatively new lineup after his time spent in a number of duals last season, three freshmen also made their first start in Rec Hall.
Specifically, redshirt freshman Alex Facundo stepped into the 165-pound spot and walked away with a 27-12 win, accounting for six takedowns in the first period.
The Nittany Lions have struggled to find a strong contender in the 165-pound spot since two-time NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph in 2019. Last year, Penn State got close with Creighton Edsell, who notched a 7-3 record but ultimately fell out of the competition altogether due to a back injury last season.
The first true test for Facundo will come this weekend in the Black Night Open at Army, where he will face a multitude of opponents on Sunday.
“It makes it more and more exciting,” Facundo said. “You just get to do a lot more wrestling obviously, and it’s just more matches to go out there and work on my game.”
Head coach Cael Sanderson was also eager to see the success of these two wrestlers and their new places in the lineup.
“I thought [Bartlett] wrestled well. I think he controlled the match and got a lot of riding time,” Sanderson said. “He scored when he wanted to, and he is off to a good start.”
The buzz around Facundo has been the same, and Sanderson is looking forward to seeing both of them perform this weekend.
Penn State wrestling will take 15 wrestlers in total and compete in the Black Night Open in West Point, New York, on Sunday, November 20. The time still hasn’t been announced.
It’s also worth noting that three champions — Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, and Greg Kerkvliet — will most likely take this tournament off to focus on the NWCA All-Star Classic in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, November 22.
During the all-star meet, Starocci will face Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech, Brooks will see Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa, and Kerkvliet will wrestle Anthony Cassioppi from Iowa.
“If you are a competitor, every match is the same,” Sanderson said “As we have seen in the past, the coaches use these matches for seeding of the national tournament, which we saw a couple years back, and the people going are competitors.”
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Kotelnicki’s hiring was first reported Thursday afternoon.
Most of our staffers have Penn State playing in the Peach Bowl for the first time in program history.
Kotelnicki has everything he needs to succeed at Penn State. Can he break the Nittany Lions’ trend of flops at the offensive coordinator position?