Penn State Wrestling Weighing All Options At 125 Pounds
Penn State wrestling is just days away from dual season. With the Nittany Lions facing Lehigh this weekend, one question mark remains in the starting lineup: who will wrestle at 125 pounds?
The last time Penn State had a national champion wrestling at 125 pounds was in 2016 when Nico Megaludis took home the hardware for the Nittany Lions in a bounce-back season after the team finished sixth the previous year.
Since then, the blue and white have yet to see a 125-pound wrestler finish with All-American status. Most recently, Gary Steen finished 6-15 in the 2022-2023 season, missing out on an NCAA appearance.
However, with Robbie Howard returning from injury and the emergence of true freshman Braeden Davis, the Nittany Lions have options as they aim to fill one of the only glaring holes in an otherwise star-studded lineup.
After defeating Howard and winning the Army Black Knight Invitational, Davis caught high praise from head coach Cael Sanderson.
“Davis has done really well and he has won all of his matches, he’s looking to improve,” Sanderson said at media availability Tuesday. “We have been very happy with Davis and his effort, he’s a tough kid.”
It is worth noting that Davis’ teammate, redshirt sophomore Robbie Howard, hasn’t wrestled in collegiate competition in two seasons after redshirting during the 2021-22 season and retreating to the sideline with an injury in the Nittany Lions’ most recent campaign. Despite his rather slow start to the 2023 season, Sanderson is confident Howard will once again find his groove.
“He hasn’t wrestled in two years and he gets kind of thrown in there,” Sanderson said of Hoawrd. “As long as he’s battling, he’ll keep improving. He has a history of being a gamer, he’s a big moment guy. As coaches, we’re in here every day, all year long, for multiple years because you want to give them every possible chance… that’s what we have to do.”
Prior to the Army Black Knight Invite, it was assumed Howard would take the starting role, as he already had 13 collegiate matches and an NCAA qualification from his freshman year three seasons ago. However, with the addition of Braeden Davis, Sanderson is in the process of making a tough decision.
“We have several guys that are just in there training and ready to go, we have a lot of options,” Sanderson said of the 125-pound weight class. “Howard has shown good things, he just needs some more matches… we’re not quite sure how that’s going to play out yet. Both guys have a lot of potential. We aren’t down on Howard right now, he just hasn’t wrestled in two years.”
Besides Sanderson, fellow teammates also shared their praise and confidence in the up-and-coming 125-pound wrestler.
“Braeden is doing amazing. He’s coming into his own and he’s been really good,” freshman Josh Barr said. “Throughout high school, he was always nationally ranked very highly and won all the best tournaments.”
Davis, a Michigan resident like Barr, was a four-time state champion in high school.
Folks will have to wait until Sunday, December 3, to see the Nittany Lions in action next. They will take on Lehigh in their first dual of the season, starting at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall. The dual will be streamed on the Big Ten Network.
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