By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - They have been anticipating this moment all offseason long, and now at long last, their wait is coming to an end.
With the start of 2012-13 season just days away, the Penn State wrestling team is eager to get back to competition.
"It's been a long time just practicing," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "I'm looking forward to getting the season started."
The Nittany Lions will begin their season at home on Friday, when Lehigh travels to Rec Hall.
Coming off of two-straight national championships, the squad enters this season with high expectations.
Despite their past success, both the coaches and the wrestlers have maintained that their focus is solely on the season at hand, and not on previous accomplishments.
"We'll take it one year at a time," said Sanderson. "We want to get the most out this team and these guys as we can."
The Nittany Lions, who have been recognized by Intermat as the No. 1 team in the nation entering the season, have five All-Americans returning in the lineup.
The group consists of National Champions Quentin Wright (senior-197), David Taylor (junior-165), and Ed Ruth (junior-184), as well as Dylan Alton (sophomore-157) and Nico Megaludis (sophomore-125).
These highly decorated wrestlers are joined by Andrew Alton (sophomore-149) and Matt Brown (sophomore-174) as the seven Nittany Lions ranked within the top sixth by Intermat at their respective weights.
"We have a lot of great wrestlers running around," said Sanderson. "That always helps improve the product."
Having so many accomplished wrestlers on the squad has benefitted the team's preparation for the season in many ways.
One of the biggest impacts has been the increased competition during the team's practices.
"Our room's been getting more competitive every year," said Sanderson. "If they're having success in a competitive room than it shows their improving.
Sanderson stated that his squad's experience and hard work has helped them improve in many ways.
Not only are they physically prepared for the season, their techniques have also vastly increased from where they were during previous seasons.
"Technically, we're ahead of where we've been in the past," said Sanderson. "Having another year under your belt really helps with that."
Not only have these improvements occurred with the team's returning wrestlers, but with the squad's new members as well.
Many of the veterans on the team have been impressed with the newcomers' ability to keep up with them during practice.
"The freshmen are progressing really well," said Taylor. "They've been taking advantage of getting to wrestle the best guys in the room everyday and that's all you can ask for."
While the team enters the season with the goal of another national championship, they know that the road to another title will not be easy.
Once again, the Big Ten is expected to be the toughest conference in wrestling, featuring four other schools (Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Illinois) in the top 10.
"There are a lot of programs that have strong team's and a lot of things happen in the offseason," said Sanderson. "It's probably more competitive than last year."
Though the competition will be tough, Sanderson knows he has an extremely strong and capable squad behind him.
"We're very blessed to have guys that we have," said Sanderson. "It's a very strong team."
Whatever this season has in store for them, the Nittany Lion's can't wait to get it started.
"We've been waiting for this all summer," said Ruth. "It feels good to get back to it."
Nittany Lion Wrestlers Look Forward to Season
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
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