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Nittany Lions Dominate Second Half of Dual

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson entered halftime of Saturday's dual meet against Lock Haven looking to light a fire under his team.

8411281.jpegWhile his top ranked Nittany Lions had opened the meet with a 16-3 lead, they had found themselves challenged by Lock Haven's lower weight wrestlers.

"They kind of pushed us around a little at first," said Sanderson. "Their guys showed a lot of fire and a lot of fight."

Whatever Sanderson told his remaining wrestlers, it certainly had a big effect on them.

The Nittany Lions came out of the break on fire, winning the final five matches, including three pins and a tech fall, on their way to a 42-3 victory.

"Our guys really came out to right the wrongs from the first half," said Sanderson. "They really competed and showed how much firepower we have at those upper weights."

Junior Ed Ruth, who notched a tech fall over Fred Garcia at 184, credited his coach's ability to get he and his teammates mentally prepared during the intermission.

"Coach Sanderson came up to us individually and put a few words of hate in our ears to get us fired up," said Ruth. "He's really a master at knowing how to push your buttons."

After junior and defending national champion David Taylor got things started with a pin over Aaron McKinney at 165, fellow junior Matt Brown kept the ball rolling with a dominant performance at 174, pinning Zach Heffner in just 1:37.

Following Ruth's victory at 184, senior Quentin Wright notched the team's fourth pin of the afternoon and the third of the second half over freshmen Phil Sprenkle at 197.

While Wright wrestled cautiously during a scoreless first period, the three time All-American turned up the heat as the match went on, before finishing Sprenkle off with a fall midway through the third.

"I just tried to stay tough and get after it out there," said Wright. "Sometimes you've got to wrestle a little longer and not be afraid to get tired out there."

For the second consecutive dual, the most exciting match of the afternoon took place at the end, during the heavyweight bout.

Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Lawson battled senior Harry Turner tough for three full periods and exhibited excellent defense on his way to a hard fought 5-1 victory.

Lawson, who transferred to Penn State from Monmouth in the offseason, took extra joy in the win, as it came in his first dual meet in Rec Hall. 

"It was really fun and exciting to be in front of that crowd," said Lawson. "I'm looking forward to doing it more often."

While Lawson may have been new to wrestling in the atmosphere of Rec Hall, he did happen to be very familiar with the opponent he was facing.

Not only had he previously battled Turner in high school, he actually defeated him for the New Jersey State Championship in 2008.

"He's a guy I've wrestled a lot and someone I consider a friend," said Lawson.  "Friends or not, both of us were out there trying to win for our teams and it was nice to come out on top."

Sanderson, who still has not decided on whether Lawson or sophomore Jon Gingrich will be the full time starter at the heavyweight position, was pleased that Lawson took advantage of his opportunity.

"We've been wanting to give Jimmy a chance to wrestle at home," said Sanderson. "I thought he did a nice job out there."

The Nittany Lions next dual meet will take place at home on Jan 13, when they take on Michigan State.

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