UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion wrestling team will return to the confines of Rec Hall one week from today to kick off the 2010-'11 season.
Penn State's annual Intra-Squad Dual Meet will open the season on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lion wrestlers welcomed the media to hot, humid Rec Hall on Thursday for media day.
Expectations are high for Coach Sanderson and the Nittany Lions. We spent the afternoon at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex in Rec Hall. Take a look at some of the storylines from the GoPSUsports.com media day notebook leading up the 2010-'11 wrestling season.
- All Eyes on the Youth
The Nittany Lions enter the 2010-'11 season with one of the most decorated groups of young wrestlers in program history. In all, 20 true or redshirt freshmen occupy slots on the roster. Headlining the list of talented young athletes include David Taylor, Ed Ruth, Andrew and Dylan Alton, among others. The Alton twins are among 17 true freshmen that Coach Sanderson has been very impressed with during the preseason.
"We have had a lot of really good fortune...We have a lot of guys that can come in and compete right away."
Sanderson noted that a decision would be made in the next two weeks on which of the Alton twins will wrestle or redshirt this winter. He is very pleased with the progress Taylor and Ruth have made in the past year after redshirting. Coach Sanderson is expecting very big things from both young athletes. We spoke to Taylor, and he made it quite clear that he wants to win a national title. Penn State's young talent will make an immediate impact this winter.
- Battling for Starting Spots
As we mentioned, the intra-squad dual will take place next Thursday night inside Rec Hall. Several interesting battles for lineup spots will headline the event, but Coach Sanderson noted a couple key areas to watch. At 133 pounds, freshman Sam Sherlock and redshirt sophomore Bryan Pearsall are vying for the starting spot. Sanderson said the most competitive spot in the lineup is 165 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Nick Fischer, freshman Dirk Cowburn and Jake Kemerer are among the candidates for the starting spot.
- Pataky and Molinaro Eager to Return
Two of Penn State's returning All-Americans are eager to return to competition after injuries during the offseason. Coach Sanderson said junior Brad Pataky (125) is day-to-day with a sprained knee. Pataky went 28-10 last season. True freshman Frank Martellotti is the leading candidate to step in for Pataky.
Fellow All-American Frank Molinaro (149) is working to recover from an ankle injury suffered during the preseason. Coach Sanderson said that Molinaro is ahead of schedule and is beginning to put some weight on his ankle. Molinaro tallied a 33-7 record last season en route to fifth place finish at the NCAA Championships. Coach Sanderson said redshirt sophomore James English is the leading candidate to replace Molinaro at 149 pounds.
- Focus on the Big Picture
Coach Sanderson enters his second season at the helm of the program. His expectations remain the same as they have always been throughout his decorated career.
"Our focus is always the same - to go out there and fight and do the best we can."
Coach Sanderson is eager for the season to open next week, but the squad has its eyes on the month of March. Coach said that the national tournament in March is why the team is in the practice room every day. With that being said, the coaching staff wants to see the team at its best during the month of March.
- Big Ten Forecast
The Big Ten will again be a superb conference on the national landscape this winter. When asked about the Big Ten favorites for this winter, Coach Sanderson said he expects Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin to be the teams to beat. Iowa is the three-time defending national champion. Here is a list of where the Big Ten's top squads fall in the NWCA preseason rankings:
No. 4 Minnesota
No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 6 Penn State
No. 7 Iowa
No. 10 Illinois
No. 12 Ohio State
No. 18 Michigan
No. 19 Northwestern
No. 20 Purdue
We are one week from the 2010-'11 wrestling season kicking off. Get to Rec Hall this me. You will not be disappointed.