Wrestlers struggle in Big Ten duals
By: Stephen Hennessey
Collegian Staff Writer
Jack Decker sat in the dark hallway of Rec Hall on Sunday with his head buried into his hands, minutes after he had dropped his match by an overtime decision.
The senior was isolated from the rest of the team, which was still competing against Wisconsin.
This scene was completely different than Friday, when Decker was upbeat and smiling after an overtime victory over Minnesota's Sonny John.
After two losses this weekend to No. 10 Minnesota and No. 17 Wisconsin, head coach Troy Sunderland struggled to find words to describe these two dual meets.
"Some guys fought and did well, and some guys just looked like they've never wrestled before," said junior Bubba Jenkins, who did not compete this weekend because of an ankle injury. "It looked like they didn't know what they were doing."
The No. 16-ranked Penn State wrestling team (7-8-2) dropped its dual meet to the Golden Gophers 20-18 on Friday, and fell to the Badgers 28-13 on Sunday at Rec Hall.
For both dual meets, the Nittany Lions had five freshmen in their lineup, as injuries forced true freshmen Shane Everett, Colby Pisani and J.R. Brown into the spotlight for their dual meet debuts.
Minnesota coach J Robinson said he knew the Lions had some problems at some weight classes, so his squad ensured they would go out and take care of business.
"You have those problems, we had them last year," Robinson said of the injury problems for the Lions. "It's very frustrating for the coach, but there's nothing you can do. They've got their problems, I mean, I empathize."
During his match Friday, Everett knelt in the center of the mat, looking straight up into the Rec Hall crowd, waiting for his opponent to instigate the match from a restart.
His opponent, Minnesota senior Tyler Safratowich, calmly walked back and forth as the referees discussed a call. Even though assistant coach Matt Dernlan said the coaching staff gave the freshmen tactical advice all week during practice, a lack of execution was evident in Sunday's matches.
The trio went a total of 0-6 on the weekend -- Brown was pinned twice, Everett lost by technical fall and major decision, and Pisani was majored and beat by regular decision.
"We told kids to do things, and they totally did the opposite," Sunderland said. "In some weight classes we were just out-gunned. But in the other weight classes, it's really disappointing with the effort."
Junior captain Dan Vallimont dropped his match Sunday to Badger freshman Andrew Howe, who is ranked No. 10 in the country at the 165-pound weight class. Redshirt freshman Frank Molinaro dropped his match by technical fall to the No. 1 ranked 141-pounder in the country.
Sunderland, however, compared the both of them, saying they both got "punched in the face."
"He didn't do anything quite honestly," Dernlan said of Vallimont's performance Sunday. "He's one of those guys that has to dig deep and ask himself a lot of questions because it's not just going to happen for him. He's our captain. If you're elected into that spot then you've got to lead us. But he's a tough kid."
Tags: Bubba Jenkins, Colby Pisani, Dan Vallimont, Frank Molinaro, J.R. Brown, Jack Decker, Matt Dernlan, Shane Everett, Troy Sunderland