Penn State wrestlers rout Pittsburgh, but Cael Sanderson still looking for improvement
By The Patriot-News
STATE COLLEGE — As Pittsburgh coach Rande Stottlemyer ended a conversation following his team’s dual meet with Penn State on Friday, he turned to several reporters and said matter of factly, “That was quite a butt whupping we got there.”
As much as the No. 2 Nittany Lions’ (12-0, 1-0 Big Ten) 30-7 domination of the Panthers (8-6, 1-0 EWL) indicated a rout, you wouldn’t have known it from the frowns on faces of the Penn State coaches and wrestlers, especially head coach Cael Sanderson.
“This was not our best night. We were a little flat, but sometimes that happens when you take a week off,” he said. “But it still falls on our heads. You have to be ready to go any time. That’s a good team, too. I don’t mean to discredit those guys.”
A Rec Hall crowd of 5,527 watched as the Nittany Lions won eight of 10 bouts and piled up a 33-12 advantage in takedowns. They did it without the services of No. 11 125-pounder Brad Pataky, who Sanderson said he held out of the lineup to help protect his knee.
Penn State won each of the two marquee bouts pitting wrestlers ranked in the top 10.
At 141, No. 5 Andrew Alton turned in a workmanlike 8-2 win over No. 7 Tyler Nauman, a returning All-American. And, at heavyweight, No. 6 Cameron Wade made a first-period takedown and third-period escape stand up for a 3-2 win over No. 3 Ryan Tomei.
“We knew they were both two of the key matchups and big for the future, rankings and seeding and all of that good stuff,” Sanderson said.
Penn State’s six other wins came at 133, 149, 147, 174, 184 and 197. No. 2 Ed Ruth (174) scored a fall in 5:45, No. 3 David Taylor (157) rolled up a 26-11 technical fall, scoring 10 takedowns along the way and No. 5 Andrew Long (133) racked up a 17-5 major decision. No. 5 Frank Molinaro (149), No. 6 Quentin Wright (184) and Nick Ruggear (197) earned decisions.
For Wright, it was his first match since suffering a shoulder injury in the Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 5. Despite showing flashes of his old dynamic self, Wright seemed to hang on in the third period.
“It was his first match back. He’s going to get better every time he steps out on the mat. I don’t think he’s too happy with his performance tonight,” Sanderson said with a wry smile. “He just needs to wrestle. He did some great things in the match. We just need him to be able to wrestle seven minutes.”
That seemed to be the theme a displeased yet calm and composed Sanderson expressed to his team in an extended locker room session.
“A lot of us needed to push it more. Some of us needed to get the major. Even if we’re tired, we should just push harder and harder,” Alton said. “He never yells. He’s calm about it. But you know when he’s talking to you, everybody takes it heart and tries to get better.”
Molinaro admitted it’s a bit unnerving to have a coach so obviously unhappy and yet so composed.
“It’s different. You’re so used to being yelled at when you do something bad. I think it actually gets the point across more when he’s so level-headed. You can kind of listen more and understand what he’s saying instead of getting screamed at. That doesn’t really help anybody,” he said.
Sanderson underscored what has become a familiar mantra for a Nittany Lion team that could be No. 1 when the new rankings come out next week. No. 1 Cornell lost at Lehigh on Thursday.
“We want it to be more consistent and the attitude the same, and then the wins and losses will take care of themselves,” he said. “There’s not enough time in the day to worry about those things. We have to worry about what we can control, and that’s our attitude.”
Tags: Andrew Alton, Brad Pataky, Cael Sanderson, Cameron Wade, David Taylor, Ed Ruth, Frank Molinaro, Nick Ruggear, Quentin Wright