No. 2 Nittany Lions Outlast No. 22 Pitt, 30-7
Jan. 22, 2011
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 2 Penn State wrestling team defeated No. 22 Pittsburgh as the Nittany Lions won eight of their ten bouts on Friday night in front of about 5,500 faithful spectators that gathered in Rec Hall. Penn State posted a 30-7 win over the Panthers and held on to their undefeated status as the team improved to 12-0 this season.
Friday night's dual with Pitt was significant for a few key reasons. For one, it was the first time the Nittany Lions had been back in action since they faced Michigan almost two weeks ago. It was also the first time that newly recruited Andrew Long was wrestling in Rec Hall as a member of the Penn State squad. Quentin Wright made his return to the mats as well, as he had been sidelined due to a shoulder injury that occurred more than a month ago.
As the introduction music began and the public address announcer came on the microphone, the Nittany Lions huddled into their corner of the wrestling mat and did what they do at every home dual. The group of athletes came together to get each other pumped up for the night ahead of them, looking more like a group of best friends than simply a mass of college wrestlers.
The Nittany Lions had a rough start to the night as senior Brad Pataky was out of the starting lineup, forcing senior Eric Caschera to take over at 125 for his first time this season. Caschera fell behind Pittsburgh's Anthony Zanetta 1-2 in the first period and after two tough Zanetta takedowns in the second period Caschera found himself trailing 2-7. Zanetta dealt the Lion senior three more takedowns in the third period and rode out the remaining time to earn a major decision of 5-14.
Despite the quick lead taken by the Panthers, sophomore Andrew Long stepped up next on the mat to make an impressive Rec Hall debut. The recently rostered Nittany Lion took an early 4-1 lead in the first period, dealing Pitt freshman Shelton Mack two takedowns. Long chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped, following with two more takedowns. At the start of third period, Long led Mack 9-2 and continued to dominate by handing out three more takedowns to win the bout by a major decision of 17-5.
Long said that he was nervous to go out in front of the Penn State crowd for the first time, but was reassured once he actually stepped onto the mats.
"It was a lot of fun," said Long. "It was real enjoyable. Walking out there I got a really good vibe and the guys, they were having so much fun that it was hard not to enjoy it out there. The fans are great here."
Long's teammate and red-shirt sophomore Quentin Wright also entered back onto Penn State's home mats for the first time in more than a month. Wright suffered a season-hindering shoulder injury back in the first week of December during the Nittany Lion Open, and the dual against Pitt was his first in Rec Hall since then.
Wright won by a hard-fought 12-7 decision over Pittsburgh's Max Thomusseit, but was a noticeably different wrestler. Sporting a black shoulder brace, the All-American seemed a bit reserved in his attack. Nonetheless, the Nittany Lion faithful were happy to see Wright back on the mats and congratulated him on his victory. Wright handed Thomusseit his first loss in his last six bouts.
Long said that he impressed with Wright's match, and was happy to share the returning moments with him on Friday night.
"Now that I think about it [Quentin and I] were both starting back in for the first time so it was kind of a good experience to be able to share with somebody and know that you're not the only one and he probably feels the same way," said Long. "It's just working towards our goal and getting better as a team and staying on top."
Redshirt junior and No. 6 heavyweight Cameron Wade turned a few heads as well as he dominated Pitt's No. 3 Ryan Tomei in a tight 3-2 decision. Wade notched a pivotal bout in the first period, which proved to be instrumental in his win. During the second period, the two wrestlers juggled control and the score remained just 2-0. Wade chose down to begin the third period and earned another point after a timely escape to make it just 3-0. Tomei made a presence too little too late as he recorded a takedown in the remaining seconds of the match, but Wade controlled for the remainder to get the win.
After his match, Wade said that he was really only happy with two-thirds of his performance.
"I mean the first two periods I thought I wrestled real well," said Wade. "I was controlling and I scored off a nice little scramble and then I rolled him real hard on top, just not letting him escape a couple times he could've gotten out. I felt great the first two periods and then the third period I just kind of had a little mind fart, I don't know what the heck happened but it's not how I wanted to end the match. It's always good to have a win but it's not how you want to end a match."
Wade said that as a team, the Nittany Lions were not as dominant as they should have been. He explained that the Penn State wrestlers are looking for more than winning records.
"We know that we can wrestle better," said Wade. "I mean we ended up getting what eight out of 10 matches but right now at this stage we're not trying to judge ourselves on winning matches we're trying to judge ourselves on fighting for the whole seven minutes. It's just little things we have to just keep working on."
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