The 2015-16 college wrestling season has concluded, and the Nittany Lions of Penn State University have once again reached the summit of the collegiate sport’s highest peak.
In front of a huge audience at Madison Square Garden, the squad bested Oklahoma State 123-97.5, claiming their sixth title in total, and their fifth in the last six years. It was a dominating performance that Head Coach Cael Sanderson can and should be very proud of. Here are a few highlights of the historic 2015-16 campaign that will immediately be etched into the esteemed history of the great institution of higher learning.
Sanderson was part of the dominant Iowa squads around the turn-of-the-century, going 159-0 throughout a four-year career that is one of the single most impressive in college wrestling history.
Naturally, he was a wonderful choice to lead Penn State to the promised land, and he has done so quicker than even the most hopeful and demanding fans could’ve imagined.
Not only has the presence of Sanderson been a very strong magnet for recruiting throughout the nation, the skills and knowledge that he can impart on young wrestlers looking to get the best out of their ability is literally world-class.
A devil’s advocate could argue that the 36-your-old has set the bar way too high in Happy Valley, and Penn State will now be expected to be the cock of the walk going into any wrestling season. This is actually okay with everyone involved, and a huge array of talented freshmen and sophomores indicate that another wave of dominance is building just offshore.
The influx of talent is likely to continue, in part because Sanderson is such a great coach, and in part because he knows how to keep things fun. Zane Rutherford, who recently secured the championship at 149 pounds, divulged in an interview in New York City that, “The coaches are great at making sure that the guys are confident and having fun. We’re not just robots running into brick walls.”
Rutherford combined with senior Nico Megaluis to propel the Nittany Lions to victory in a competitive championship that featured some insecure and uncertain moments. But hard work pays off, and there is absolutely no substitute for genuine talent.
The PSU Wrestling Team completed the 2015-16 campaign with a mark of 16-0, including a 9-0 conference record. The future is brighter than the springtime sunshine rising over the Atlantic Ocean.
Freshmen Bo Nickal and Jason Nolf both ended their seasons with a loss, but each of the temporarily dejected young superstars-in-the-making will definitely learn from the outcome. They are both in a position to right these wrongs and steadily climb the ranks of the college wrestling world in the next three years. Indeed, big things are going to unfold on Big 10 wrestling mats throughout the Northeast over the next few seasons.