No. 2 Penn State Faces No. 22 Pitt Live on the Big Ten Network
Jan. 20, 2011
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - More than halfway through the season, head coach Cael Sanderson leads his No. 2 Penn State team into another weekend of tough competition. Starting with a home dual against No. 22 Pittsburgh on Friday night at 6 p.m., the meeting between the Nittany Lions and the Panthers will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
The Nittany Lions are 11-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, following closely behind Cornell for the top ranking in the country. Eight of the ten probable starters for the Penn State roster are nationally ranked, and two of those eight wrestlers have not lost a bout this season.
At 125, No. 11 senior Brad Pataky has returned to the mat after a preseason ACL injury and has built a 7-2 record thus far. Sophomore Andrew Long, who is the newest addition to the Nittany Lions, sits at 133 and is ranked No. 5 in his class. Long is one of the two wrestlers who is currently undefeated, holding a record of 4-0.
The bout at 141 will be one to watch as No. 5 freshman Andrew Alton, who is 22-2 this season, squares off against Pittsburgh's No. 7 redshirt junior Tyler Nauman. Also ranked No. 5 in his weight class, Penn State's junior 149-pound Frank Molinaro will be at it again as he looks to improve his 17-2 mark this season.
True freshman David Taylor has continued to dominate his opponents as he is currently 23-0 and holds the No. 3 spot at 157. Taylor leads the Nittany Lions with nine technical falls and seven majors this season.
At 174, freshman Ed Ruth has the team's top ranking at No. 2 nationally and boasts a 21-1 record. Hometown favorite and redshirt sophomore Quentin Wright is expected to return to the mat Friday night, as well. Wright has been out since the first week of December when he suffered a shoulder injury during the Nittany Lion Open. The 184-pound grappler still holds his No. 6 ranking and a 19-3 record this season.
Either freshman Nick Ruggear or redshirt freshman Andrew Church will start at 197. Ruggear has notched a 13-6 record this year. The Panthers are strong at 197 as junior Zac Thomusseit is ranked No. 11 and is 20-3 overall.
The heavyweight match between No. 6 red-shirt junior Cameron Wade and Pittsburgh's No. 3 redshirt senior Ryan Tomei will be one to watch as Wade holds a notable 19-3 record overall and Tomei is one step ahead at 20-3.
Penn State sits just 11 points behind No. 1 Cornell in the dual meet Coaches Poll. For now, the Nittany Lions have a solid grip on to the No. 2 ranking.
Nittany Lion veteran Pataky is in what is most likely his sixth and final year as a Penn State wrestler, and he said that he is continually impressed with the accomplishments of his fellow teammates.
"It's incredible," said Pataky. "One day after another you look in the room at two guys going at it and they're just getting better and better. You don't get to see that a whole lot in your life. It's a great situation and it's very fortunate that we were able to get a hold of Coach Sanderson to come out here and get us to where we are right now and in such a quick amount of time that he's been here."
Pataky said that with the help of the coaching staff and Sanderson's tough mentality, the Penn State wrestlers have been able to meet their goals and enjoy themselves at the same time.
"At the end of the day it's just giving your all out there and letting the chips fall," said Pataky. "Having Coach Cael's mentality about giving your all for seven minutes and knowing that you gave your all out on the mat, that's all you can ask of yourself. It's a good philosophy and it's also fun. He points out that every day you should be having fun - don't worry about the ups and downs but make sure you're having fun."
After Friday night's dual with Pitt, the Nittany Lions will travel to Bloomington, Ind., to meet Big Ten competitor Indiana on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penn State reigned victorious in their first Big Ten dual this season, and hopes to finish with the same outcome their second time around.
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