Category Archives: Penn State Wrestling

Penn State Wrestling Steadily Prodding Toward Next Title Shot


Head coach Cael Sanderson is in his fifth year at the helm of the Nittany Lions Wrestling team, and he has already established an environment where anything short of a National Title will be a clear disappointment. The 35-year-old Iowa State University graduate is regarded as one of the single greatest amateur wrestlers of the past 50 years, so he is no stranger to having expectations and stakes that are higher than most.

Just a handful of weeks into the 2014–2015 schedule, Penn State is 5–0 overall, having only had one true test in the form of the Virginia Tech Hokies on Friday, December 19. The action had the hometown crowd in Happy Valley nervous at times. Penn State came away with a 16–14 advantage in overall takedowns, but that is a margin far smaller than fans are accustomed to or comfortable with.

Senior Jimmy Lawson is a very talented and plenty intimidating individual, and he sent the crowd into a frenzy during the final match of the evening when he overcame an interesting ruling to finish off his opponent in sudden victory. It would be safer to treat this close call as a small wake-up call than to treat this as an indication of any type of regression.


The team proved that they are still on top of their game with a dominating performance at the Southern Scuffle, winning their fifth straight title at the tournament held in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Over the next month, Sanderson will attempt to successfully toe the thin line of pushing his team hard enough to plow through the regular season while making sure that all bodies and minds are in optimal working order come March, when the Big Ten Championships begin in Columbus, Ohio.

The most recent Intermat rankings were released on Jan 6, and they feature a total of eight Nittany Lions ranked near the top of their weight class. Headliners include Matt Brown coming in at #4 at 174, Morgan McIntosh with the same ranking at 197 and the aforementioned Mr. Lawson coming in at #6 in the gargantuan 285 pound slot. Don’t be surprised if the musclebound Senior out of Toms River, New Jersey dabbles in the UFC or other mixed martial arts as a professional.


Also worth mention are Sophomores Jimmy Gulibon and Zack Beitz, both of whom cracked the Top-20 in their slots and are headed steadily upward as the team continues on its legitimate modern day dynasty. And we might as well show love for redshirt Freshman Matt McCutcheon, who currently stands at #16 overall at 184 with a 16-6 record.

The squad is ranked as the 7th best overall – a bit of a slight according to many in the know. The Lions will face the gauntlet of the Big Ten Conference schedule over the next two months before finishing up with matches against Oklahoma State in Stillwater and against Rider at home. The chance for them to run the board remains intact, but uncertain.

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PSU Wrestling Glides to 4th Consecutive NCAA Crown, Built to Repeat


PSU Wrestling Glides to 4th Consecutive NCAA Crown, Built to Repeat  

NCAA Division I Wrestling was dominated by Oklahoma schools for the first 40+ years of its existence before the pendulum swung eastward toward the state of Iowa. The Hawkeyes controlled the college wrestling scene beginning in 1975 and running through the turn of the millennium. Savvy college wrestling fans know that the Oklahoma State Cowboys won four consecutive titles from 2003 – 2007, and the Iowa Hawkeyes rattled off three straight between 2008 and 2010. Now, it appears to be Penn State’s turn in the spotlight, and there is no way to determine where this building wave of greatness will crest and splash upon the shore of college wrestling history.

On a sunny spring weekend in Oklahoma City, Nittany Lions head coach Cael Sanderson was once again able to get 100% out of his troops. The fifth-year head coach asks the absolute most out of his athletes – to be fully accountable for their actions both on and off the mat. This approach has been met with enthusiasm and has resulted in record-setting results.

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Nittany Lions Senior Ed Ruth has an old-school name coupled with a classic approach. The 184-pound menace has carved out a larger name for himself through each of his years at the University, and he dictated the terms throughout all three stanzas against the Maryland Terrapins highly-touted Jimmy Sheptock. The theme was skillful takedowns and reversals coupled with plenty of consecutive minutes with complete control of his opponent. This pleased the many Nittany Lions fans in attendance, many of whom are ready and waiting to travel to whatever site the NCAA Wrestling Championships will be staged at in the future.

The other senior with a bright spotlight shining upon him during the final tournament in an illustrious career is the 165-pound David Taylor. The Ohio native, grad student and Hodge Trophy Award winner made his way out of old-school college wrestling country and into the heart of the modern wrestling machine after a dominating career at St. Paris Graham High School. Taylor wears spectacles when not wrestling and could easily be taken for a bookworm as opposed to a top-flight athlete, a mistake made by only the most unfortunate of opponents.

What does a fourth straight NCAA Division I Wrestling Title mean for Penn State? A few obvious repercussions include increased recruiting clout, media attention and one more win in an era where consecutive college sports championships are becoming increasingly rare.

Penn State Wrestling Quickly Becoming Dynasty, Undefeated Thus Far


Penn State Wrestling Quickly Becoming Dynasty, Undefeated Thus Far

The NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships date all the way back to 1928. The competition has been dominated by schools from the state of Oklahoma and Iowa. Coincidentally, it was Penn State University that broke a 25-year initial streak of one of the two aforementioned states winning the wrestling title when the bunch from State College, Pennsylvania emerged victorious in the 1953 tournament held at the Rec Hall on campus.

Amazingly, only three universities outside of Iowa and Oklahoma have emerged victorious as Division I wrestling championships in the several decades since. That adds up to over 80 years of college wrestling dominated by landlocked states full of strong and aggressive wrestlers.

All of this history has sets the stage for a shocking trend that has developed over the last three years. The Penn State Nittany Lions have emerged as the victors of the NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championship each of the past three seasons. This is not only an impressive run that can now be considered a dynasty, it is a shocking buck of the trend and clear proof that the University located on the East Coast is quickly becoming the epicenter of college wrestling.

A record-breaking attendance mark set in Happy Valley recently got the attention of the collegiate wrestling world, and the team didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately for opponents, the Nittany Lions are every bit as ferocious on the road. About a week ago, they marched into Iowa City and dominated a dual meet that served as a clear indication that teams throughout Iowa and Oklahoma might be looking up to Penn State in the wrestling rankings for some time.

The team seems poised to build on the success of three consecutive National Championship wins, and all weight classes are packed with youthful talent. The majority of the roster’s most important role players are sophomores and juniors who are already benefiting from world-class coaching and the exposure of college wrestling’s biggest stages.

Penn State is currently undefeated as of press time in their 2013 – 14 regulars season schedule. As each match unfolds with the weight classes building successively, it is clear to see the team has few if any weaknesses. Studs such as David Taylor and Matt Brown are apt to dominate their opponent by excessive force from the start of each match, while wrestlers such as Jimmy Lawson control the action with finesse and pinpoint timing.

 Folks interested in getting in on the action at Rec Hall should understand that tickets are in high demand. Penn State is becoming a dominant international force in several collegiate sports, and all the pieces are in place for them to be a powerhouse in wrestling well into the foreseeable future. They currently occupy the #1 overall ranking in the nation, and an upcoming trip through the meat of the Big 10 Conference schedule will likely leave squads such as Perdue, Northwestern, Michigan State and Minnesota icing their bruises.