By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
New warm-ups. New banners. New faces. New season.
Same place. Same fans. Same attitude.
With high expectations for themselves and from many of their onlookers, the Penn State wrestling squad began the year the same way they ended their last: winning.
The Nittany Lions officially kicked off the 2011-'12 season on Sunday in their
first home match against Bloomsburg. Prior to the start of the dual, the team
welcomed back last year's 125-pound starter Brad Pataky to help unveil the two
newest banners that were raised in Rec Hall, honoring the team's Big Ten
Championship and National Title last season.
More than 6,000 Nittany Lion wrestling fans poured into Rec Hall to see Penn State down the Huskies 39-3 in their season-opening competition, and got a taste of what three-time All-American Frank Molinaro said everyone on his team has the ability to do.
"We had a pretty good amount of pressure down the lineup and you know we wrestled hard and it was a good learning experience," said Molinaro. "I think we have 10 studs on our team, I mean 35 studs really, but 10 starters that are really tough."
With a lineup featuring five faces that had never competed as attached wrestlers in a Penn State singlet, there were quite a few pleasant surprises throughout the dual. Four of the five new starters won their individual bouts, and collectively scored 15 dual points in the match.
Freshman 125-pounder Nico Megaludis got the crowd on its feet right from the start with a win by fall at the 2:15 mark over Bloomsburg's Sean Boylan. Megaludis' debut and fiery demeanor is one that head coach Cael Sanderson said he was very pleased with.
"That's a great thing to see not only as a freshman but he's the first guy out of the shoot there and that just kind of gives you an idea of the four years that we're going to have with him," said Sanderson. "And having lead-off man that's going to wrestle as hard as he does and set the tone attitude-wise, that's a big deal for us."
Redshirt freshman Dylan Alton also made his first appearance on the mat for the Nittany Lions, dealing four takedowns to the Huskies' Frank Hickman and winning by a decision of 10-8. After sitting mat-side for the entirety of last season, Alton said that he had been anxious to get out in front of a packed house.
"It was exciting," said Alton. "You know the crowd, I mean we have the best fans here so just wrestling in front of them is just amazing and just a good feeling."
Later in the lineup, true freshman Morgan McIntosh stepped out into the spotlight for his first dual appearance against Bloomsburg's Richard Perry at the 197 spot. McIntosh and Perry battled for the first period, but McIntosh began to make his statement in the second and cruised to a 6-0 decision over Perry.
Redshirt junior Quentin Wright has been practicing with McIntosh in the training room for the past several weeks, and Wright said that he wasn't surprised with the outcome of his teammate's bout.
"That's definitely what I expected of him and more where that came from," said Wright. "Like Frank said we've got ten studs and what they did and what we did, everybody really did a good job out there."
As a whole, the Nittany Lions delivered three pins, one technical fall, one major and four decisions to earn their 39 dual points and take their first match-up of the season. At the end of the day, Sanderson said that he was not only satisfied with his team's performance, but also ready to see more.
"I'm excited for the future just because we know that we're going to continue to improve every time we step out there on the mat," said Sanderson. "There's no question about that. Success is the greatest foundation for success."
Next Up: Penn State hosts Minnesota on Sunday, Nov. 20 at Noon in Rec Hall.