UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Football returns to Happy Valley on Friday with
the first of 15 spring practices. Leading up to the start spring drills,
GoPSUsports.com talked with head coach James Franklin to preview what is ahead
between now and the Blue-White Game presented by AAA on April 18 (4 p.m.).
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer DETROIT, Mich. - As the horn signifying the end of the game sounded, the Penn State men's hockey team found itself in an undesirable position. After putting up a valiant effort, the fourth-seeded Nittany Lions were defeated by fifth-seeded Ohio State, 3-1, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
In what seemed to be the snap of a finger, the team's season suddenly ended. Nevertheless, this squad has much to be proud of after what was accomplished during the season. The Lions exceeded expectations and put together a historic season filled with wins over every conference opponent, a season sweep and even national rankings.
Although the sting of the loss to the Buckeyes (14-18-3, 8-11-1 B1G) may take some time to heal, Penn State (18-15-4, 10-9-1 B1G) clearly gave its heart and soul this season. No one can ask for anything more than that.
"It's been an honor to play for Penn State and build a foundation here," said an emotional Max Gardiner. "Something I'm going to miss, for sure, but the program's in great hands from the coaching staff down. There are some great leaders going into next year in that locker room. There are a lot of good things to look forward to for the program."
The senior forward scored Penn State's only goal in the quarterfinal appearance during the second. He fired off a shot that went in over the right shoulder of the Buckeye goalie. It bounced in and out of the net so quickly that there was some initial confusion before the goal horn echoed through Joe Louis Arena.
At the time, the tally cut the Buckeye's lead in half, bringing the score to 2-1. However, a breakaway goal with exactly one minute remaining in the period helped Ohio State regain a two-goal lead.
The Nittany Lions were unable to recover.
"Actually, Tommy Olczyk made a real nice play there," Gardiner said of his goal. "He picked off a pass and made a nice pass to me. And Zach [Saar] kind of drew the "D" over, drove hard doing that, and kind of gave me an opening to let one go. Luckily enough it went in."
Penn State was held to only 32 shots in the game, a total less than its 39.4 shots per game season average. Much of the lack of offense can be attributed to the multiple team injuries, as Taylor Holstrom and a few other Lions skated through pain to make one final appearance in Blue and White.
During the game, the team battled injuries to its defensemen as well. Senior Nate Jensen left the game for a few minutes after being kneed but came back to play out the remainder of his final game as a Nittany Lion. Sophomore Mike Williamson, however, left the game with an injury. He did not return.
"We have a pretty significant part of our offense that was really struggling to play, a couple of our players, and I don't think we had the speed that we normally have to jump on pucks and try to get second and third chances," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think they did a really good job of keeping us away from second and third chances. Credit their "D". It's a total team effort by them, but they did a very good job at that. We weren't able to really generate much."
A first-round tournament elimination is not the way any team wants to finish out its season. Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions have a bright future ahead of them.
This is not an end. It's only the beginning for this young program.
"It's going to continue to rise, I believe," Gardiner said. "Like I said, it's in great hands, great leadership. They're going to continue to build it next year and for many years to come. I think there's going to be a lot of success in Penn State hockey."
"I think we have to look back at the season as a whole," added Gadowsky. "I think we made a lot of great strides in a lot of areas of the program. Like I said, I think the whole team, especially the seniors, should be very proud of that."
ST. LOUIS - Had it not been for two narrow sudden victory setbacks on Thursday
evening, the Nittany Lions would have been perfect on day one of the NCAA
Wrestling Championships inside Scottrade Center.
The four-time defending national champions tallied a stellar 12-2 mark on the first day
of competition, including a 5-2 record during the second round of the
championship draw. Jimmy Gulibon (133), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon
(184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will represent Penn State
in the national quarterfinals on Friday morning after winning twice on
Additionally, Jordan Conaway (125) and Zack Beitz (149) will wrestle in the
second round of the consolation bracket on Friday. All seven Nittany Lion
wrestlers have contributed to Penn State's 18.5 points following the first day
in St. Louis.
Thanks to another 2.0 bonus points on Thursday evening (6.5 for the day), the
Nittany Lions will head into Friday in a tie for third in the team
race. Penn State and Oklahoma State each have 18.5 points after two
sessions. Ohio State is first with 23 points.
Session II Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 23.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 21.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation) 3. Oklahoma State - 19.5 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation) 4. Penn State - 18.5 (5 Main Draw/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation) Nebraska - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation)
The story of day one in St. Louis can be told at 184 pounds for the Nittany
Lions. McCutcheon, a redshirt freshman, making his first appearance at the
national tournament looked like anything but a rookie on Thursday. After
scoring a dominant technical fall victory in round one, McCutcheon used a
takedown in the first sudden victory period to dispatch No. 3-seeded Blake
Stauffer from Arizona State by a count of 3-1.
"I was just wrestling my match, pulling the guy around and getting to my leg
attacks," McCutcheon said. "I knew I needed to finish better. I was in on him
two times, and I knew I needed to finish better and get into the quarters."
McCutcheon will wrestle in the quarterfinals against Ohio State's Kenny Courts
on Friday morning.
"It's been exciting, but I need to put this one in the past and get ready for the
next one," McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon's teammates are feeding off of the freshman's gritty attitude. Brown
and McIntosh had big grins on their faces when they embraced McCutcheon after
the victory. McIntosh marched into the quarterfinals with a 14-5 major decision
against Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker, but after his bout he took a moment to
reflect on the job McCutcheon has done.
"Bonus points are always important, and you always have to work hard to get
them," McIntosh said. "I was pumped up to go out there and wrestle after Matt
(McCutcheon) got his big win. It was awesome to see him out there."
Brown outscored his opponents by a count of 22-6 on Thursday. In the evening
session, the Nittany Lion senior jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Lehigh's
Santiago Martinez. And thanks to nearly three minutes of riding time, Brown
notched a workmanlike 10-2 major. Knowing it is his last opportunity to wrestle
at the national tournament, Brown is having fun in St. Louis.
"He seems pretty loose," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He is wrestling calm, and he has been
ready to go. I think that is important for him. It's important to go out there
and score points. The matches are going to get bigger, and the guy who wants to
go out there and score points is the one who is going to win."
In addition to Brown, McCutcheon and McIntosh, Gulibon and Lawson round out
Penn State's quarterfinalists. Gulibon rallied from 4-3 down to score an 8-4
decision thanks to a late four-point move against Utah Valley's Jade Rauser. Lawson
used two third-period takedowns to top Minnesota's Michael Kroells by a score
"(Lawson's) moving well, and I think this is the best we have seen him look,"
Sanderson said. "He's got a big match tomorrow against the returning national
Session three begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The
tournament quarterfinals will be up first before two rounds of consolation
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-7) - 1-1
- Consolation Second Round Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs.
Scott Parker (Lehigh)
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (24-7) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 2
Bradley Taylor (Wisconsin)
149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-10) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs.
No. 6 Alex Pantaleo (Michigan)
174: #2 Matt Brown (26-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 7
Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-12) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. Kenny
Courts (Ohio State)
197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No.
10 Connor Hartmann (Duke)
285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 1 Nick
Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State)
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY
PARK, Pa. - For Penn State men's lacrosse, the Blue and White has been a part
of many players' lives long before they put on the jersey. Players Matt Florence
and Hunter Pearl, whose fathers played lacrosse for Penn State, keep the family
tradition alive and well in Happy Valley.
1989 to 1992 J.J. Pearl protected the net for the Nittany Lions, playing
goalkeeper and dominating his time between the pipes. He ranks fifth all-time
in saves for Penn State. His son Hunter is a freshman, following a familiar
path of goaltending for the Nittany Lions.
me, Penn State was born inside of me," said Hunter Pearl. "We were always fans since I was really young
and my dad definitely had a big influence. He was really helpful in deciding
where to go to school, he wasn't necessarily biased towards here but this is
really the only place I wanted to go."
sophomore Matt Florence, after transferring from the University of Virginia,
put on the blue and white for Penn State just like his father, Tom. Tom
Florence was a goaltender for the Nittany Lions from 1981 to 1985. Although he
plays a different position from his father, Matt Florence, a midfielder, gives
credit to his lineage for helping to make the transfer process a simple one.
I decided to transfer my dad had somewhat of an impact, just that looking at
the school and knowing kind of background about Penn State and what it meant to
him," said Florence. "When I came here and visited I saw all those things that
he had really loved about the school stood true and definitely was a place I
felt comfortable in."
family ties run deep for Penn State men's lacrosse. Not only are there
second-generation Penn State lacrosse players on the team, but several team
members also have other connections to the University. More than a handful of the Nittany Lions have
had grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings attend Penn State.
think it's very special, it's really unique and it kind of adds to the family
atmosphere that everyone tries to instill here," said Pearl.
coach Jeff Tambroni knows when recruiting, family ties do have an impact, and
the idea of having players with family ties to Penn State makes the passion
burn that much brighter.
always think it helps, having a Penn State lineage," said Tambroni. "I think
most of these kids grow up with it in their blood, so to speak. And when it
comes to lacrosse just thinking as a parent myself, you look back and think
about what it would be like to have your kids play at the same university and
walk on that same field. That would be a really special occurrence."
Nittany Lions make an impact on the field, and it's not just lineage that makes
Penn State such a special place. The impact the alumni have and the respect
they have for the program is unparalleled. Past alumni come back to watch
regular season games, and even more participate in the team's annual Alumni Weekend
every fall semester.
definitely ties into the family aspect when those alumni come back," said
Florence. "You definitely have a special connection with them and you really
bond with them over being Penn Staters and taking pride in that blue and
weekend the men's lacrosse family takes on No. 6 Denver.
has] a really talented offense, they bring a lot to the table," said Florence.
"For us it's really going to come down to how much do we want it and how much
are we going to show that heart out on the field. If we can bring it and be
absolutely relentless out there then we have a good shot at winning."
team is up for the challenge playing Denver offers, as a win against such a
highly ranked team would bring validation to all the hard work the team has
been putting in. For all members of the team, not just those with Penn State
heritage, this game will provide yet another chance to take the field with the
pride of the Lions.
State will take on Denver at the neutral site of Hofstra this Saturday at 2:30
By Miranda Kulp,
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After two months on the road, the Penn State softball team returned to Happy Valley to host the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday
notching a 3-1 victory.
Despite the cold, Beard Field was buzzing with excitement for opening
day and the team came out determined to play its best for the home crowd.
"Between the weather conditions, first time playing at home, and
facing Pitt which is an in-state rival, there were a lot of emotions in this
game," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "I think there was great softball on
both ends and I'm proud
of the team for pulling out with the win."
The Lions were able to take the toughness they created on the road
back to Happy Valley for Wednesday's home opener to show off all the hard work
the team has encountered since the start of the season.
"It was great being able to play here after being on the road for a
long stretch," said coach Lehotak. "We're
starting a new philosophy this year were we set expectations of not losing at home anymore."
One player that specifically showed her toughness was outfielder Macy
Jones. She was able to lead the charge by dominating the game both at bat and in
With a slow start to the game, Jones battled at the plate and hit a
home run to the center field to provide Penn State two RBIs at the bottom of
"I was really excited to play at home for the first time all season
and whenever we're home, we want to put on a good show," said Macy Jones."Sometimes
I get too excited and lose focus but tonight I was able to really relax which
allowed me to concentrate on my game more."
Jones also made five outs in the outfield which kept Pitt off the
scoreboard multiple times throughout the game.
"It was funny because Macy had a really tough day at practice when
dealing with fly balls and for her to come out strong tonight shows a lot about
how hard she's
willing to work," said coach Lehotak.
Alongside Jones, Marlaina Laubachpitched all seven innings for the blue and white.Laubach is a sophomore from Northampton, PA and
ended the game strong with six strikeouts at the mound and zero errors.
Similar to Jones, Laubach was motivated for the first home game of the
"I think there is a notable difference when playing home," said
Laubach. "It's so nice being able to say we're home and be able to play in
front of all our families and friends," said Laubach. "This being the home
opener we really wanted to showcase what we've been working on while on the
Rallying from the victory over Pittsburgh, the Nittany Lions will stay
focused as they continue on with the season. Next up, the Lions will enter the
Big Ten season, hosting Northwestern in a three-game series over the weekend.
set the bar for us and with Northwestern being a such a good team I think that will motivate us even more to perform our best
over the weekend," said Jones.
ST. LOUIS - The
four-time defending national champion Nittany Lion wrestling team notched a
perfect first session at the 2015 NCAA Championships inside the Scottrade
Center on Thursday.
Bonus points were the theme of Penn State's superb start to the national
tournament. The Lions went 7-0 in first-round action, including four wins
featuring bonus points (three major decisions and one technical fall). Jordan
Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Zack Beitz (149), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon
(184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) all punched their tickets
into the second round of the bracket during the initial matches of the
Gulibon (11-3), Beitz (10-1) and Brown (12-4) each scored wins by virtue of
major decision, while McCutcheon (20-5 at 7:00) turned in a dominant technical
fall victory in his first ever match at the NCAA Championships.
Thanks to the unblemished record and 4.5 bonus points, the Nittany Lions will
head into Thursday's evening session in second spot with 11.5 tallies. Ohio
State is first with 13.5 points. Penn State is one of four teams with seven
wrestlers still alive in the main draw (Ohio State, Missouri and Oklahoma
Session I Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 13.5 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
2. Penn State - 11.5 (7 Main Draw/0 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 11.0 (6 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
4. Missouri - 11.0 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
It was an impressive session for a pair of Nittany Lions who had never wrestled
in the NCAA Championships prior to Thursday. Beitz and McCutcheon looked
comfortable every second they were on the mat during their first bouts at the
"It was awesome," Beitz said. "I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to go
out there and wrestle at nationals for Penn State."
Beitz took a 2-0 lead after one against Shawn Greevy (Chattanooga), but he was
dominant in the second. The Mifflintown native scored a reversal to open the
frame before three near-fall points handed the sophomore a 7-0 lead. He never
looked back from there on his way to a 10-1 major.
"The one thing Coach Cael always says is keep going, going and going," Beitz
said. "That's what I want to keep trying to do, keep scoring points. And then
ride them tough and wear them out."
On the heels of a stout weekend at the Big Ten Championships, McCutcheon got
stronger as his match at 184 pounds against Nick Fiegener (Cal Poly). A pair of
back points late in the opening frame set the score at 7-3 when the first drew
to a close. The Nittany Lion redshirt freshman added two takedowns in the
second, including one right at the buzzer. McCutcheon marched to a seven-point
third period and notched a 20-5 technical fall.
"It feels good to get the first match out of the way," McCutcheon said. "I'm
ready to go. The coaches have me peaking at the right time, and I've just got
to keep it going."
With seven wrestlers in the lineup, the Nittany Lions knew how critical extra
points would be at the national tournament this year. Thus far, Penn State
wrestled with tremendous confidence, and it turned into four wins with extra
tallies. The Lions scored at least 10 points in five of the seven victories.
"Bonus points are huge here, and that is what is going through your mind when
you are out there," Beitz said. We just go out there with the mindset to score,
and then keep scoring."
The undefeated session sets up a host of critical second round matches on
"Our team realizes we are in this," McCutcheon said. "A lot of people are
counting us out. Our team has the mindset that we are here to win, so we are
going to go out there and score as many points as possible."
Session two begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. One round of
consolation action will take place before the Nittany Lions take the mat in the
second round. Jordan Conaway will be up first at 125 pounds.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-6) - 1-0
- Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 6 Thomas
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (23-7) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. Jade Rauser
149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-9) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 5 Chris
174: #2 Matt Brown (25-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15
Santiago Martinez (Lehigh)
184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (25-12) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 3 Blake
Stauffer (Arizona State)
197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (26-2) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15
Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)
285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (16-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 9 Michael
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
DETROIT, Mich. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will face Ohio State in the first round of this year's Big Ten Tournament. The game is set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Live Blog Men's Hockey B1G Tournament Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY
PARK, Pa.- In his Penn State career, Geoff Boylston has always had a knack for
seizing the opportunites that come to him.
the junior pitcher didn't get a chance to start until the 31st game
of the season and responded by giving up just two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings
in a victory over West Virginia. This season, he received just one start in the
team's first 15 games, yet gave an even stronger outing (6 innings, two earned
runs, seven strikeouts) against South Carolina on March 10.
ball again during the Nittany Lions home opener against Canisius on Wednesday,
Boylston made a strong case to start getting it more frequently. The senior
tossed six innings, gave up just one run and struck out a career-high eight
batters as Penn State cruised to an 11-1 win.
"I was just going right at guys," Boylston said. "I wasn't messing around, wasn't feeling
for anything, just going at them from the first pitch and the next thing I
knew, I was in the six inning. When you attack guys and get ahead, life's a
little bit easier."
his start against West Virginia last year, Boylston had his only struggles of
the day early on. After striking out his first two batters to start the game,
the lefthander gave up back-to-back doubles that led to an early 1-0 deficit
for the Nittany Lions.
It may have
only been two batters, but the Nittany Lion hurler was admittedly not pleased
with himself. Feeling as though he was too careful with a curveball on the
second double to Jesse Puscheck, Boylston vowed to start attacking hitters
livid," Boylston said. "Because I hung a breaking ball, I had two strikes on
him. When you have a guy on the ropes, to let him square it up like that, it
drives me nuts. I just figured I'm going to out there, and if I get a breaking
ball called again, I'm going to go right at him with it, and I'm not going to
dump it over, I'm going to throw the daylights out of it."
to the mound to start the second, Boylston did just that, quickly retiring the
side with a groundout and two strikeouts against Tyler Smith and Nick Capitano.
From that point on, the West Chester, Pennsylvania native gave up just three
more hits and no runs as the Nittany Lions turned the game into a rout.
was working for him, the fifth year pitcher said he just kept things simple.
Once he realized that his curveball wasn't breaking for him, he decided to
stick to his fastball.
may seem easier to hit, the key for Boylston was putting them exactly where he
wanted to. A perfect example was the end of the fifth inning, when he chucked a
ball on the outside corner that Golden Griffins leadoff man Jake Lumley
helplessly flailed at, giving the pitcher his seventh strikeout on the evening.
didn't think I had my best stuff," Boylston said. "My breaking ball was
terrible. I was just able to locate my fastball. I think the best pitch in
baseball is a located fastball. When you do that consistently, you're going to
impressive as the strikeouts were, even more important was the control Boylston
exhibited. On a night in which he threw 98 pitches, the senior didn't walk a
of the performance was what head coach Rob Cooper was most pleased by. While
he'd always known that Boylston possessed plenty of talent, the coach and his staff
had stressed control to the hurler in the past.
always had that ability, the biggest thing for him is getting ahead and not
walking guys," Cooper said. "Today, and his last outing against South Carolina
was the exact same way. I'm just proud of him, he's attacking, he's not second-guessing
himself. He's worked really hard physically, but more importantly, he's worked
really hard mentally to just trust it and go out and pitch."
seen him strikeout 15 batters, give up just three earned runs and throw 12
innings over his two starts this season, Cooper said he plans to give
Boylston the ball a lot more in the future. The Nittany Lions have an
exceptionally young pitching staff, and they can certainly benefit from
Boylston's experience and savvy.
know how you can keep him on the bench when he's giving you quality starts like
that," Cooper said. "He's earned the right to continue to get the ball."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa.- Cael Sanderson can't help but be a believer.
The head coach of
the Penn State wrestling team knows his team is in much different position
heading into the 2015 NCAA Championships than its been in the past few seasons.
After a fifth place finish in the Big Ten Tournament, the four-time defending
champion Nittany Lions will be heading into the biggest weekend of the year not
as the favorite, but as one of the underdogs.
And that's perfectly fine for Sanderson and his squad. While expectations may
not be the same for the Nittany Lions across the country, the Nittany Lions
desire to win has not been diminished in the slightest.
"I don't think my
perspective has necessarily changed," Sanderson said. "It's just a matter of
getting the kids to believe. I can see us winning, it's just a matter of doing
it, and not getting frustrated when things are not going our way because you've
got to make things go your way.
"I'm optimistic. I believe in the guys that we have going that they can get the
job done. Would it be a small miracle? Maybe, but I do believe in miracles."
Having qualified seven
out of 10 wrestlers for the tournament, the Lions will certainly have plenty of
work to do when the tournament kicks off on Thursday in St. Louis. Still, with
all seven wrestlers seeded in the top 16, Penn State will definitely have the
chance to make some noise.
At the very least,
each of Penn State's wrestlers will have a fighting chance to reach the top-eight
and earn All-American status. That being said, the Nittany Lions do take pride
in the team score and will take the mat looking to rack up bonus point to make
up for their lack of competitors.
"I'm excited. I
don't want to talk big but I think our guys have a chance to score a lot of
points," Sanderson said. "Is it going to be easy no, but can they do it, yeah."
It certainly won't
be easy, but then again, the Lions aren't looking for anything to be handed to
them. With the tournament kicking off in two days, here's a look at every Penn
125 Pounds: Junior Jordan Conaway (23-6, 11th
Seed, Third at B1G Tournament) Two years ago, Jordan
Conaway made a splash in his first NCAA Championships appearance, coming up one
win shy of becoming an All-American at 133 pounds.
Now competing at
125 after missing out on a starting spot last year, the Abbottstown,
Pennsylvania, native is determined to take that next step. Having claimed third
place in a brutally tough field at the Big Ten Tournament, Conaway seems to be
peaking at the right time.
"I'm just focused
on this year, I've been to this tournament before so I'm looking to do better
obviously," Conaway said. "We've wrestled our best as this tournament the past
few years, I don't see why this would be any different, and the same for me."
Sanderson has touted
the redshirt junior as someone he is expecting to breakout over the weekend.
With a 10-6 record this year against the NCAA field (including two wins and a
medical forfeit in the B1G Tournament) Conaway has proven he can beat top
It's something that
he'll have to prove early on as well. If the 125-pounder gets past the first
round, he'll likely get a second round match against Iowa's Thomas Gilman, a
grappler he's lost to by one point twice this season.
admitted he hasn't looked at the bracket, isn't shying away from another
rematch. One of the grittiest guys on the team, he knows he has to beat the
best to be the best.
"I honestly don't
look at the bracket, I just go out and wrestle," Conaway said. "We've had some
close matches and I just have to keep battling and this will be the time to win
133: Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (22-7, Seventh Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament) Perhaps no Penn
State wrestler has improved more dramatically from last season to this season
than Jimmy Gulibon.
A year after the
highly touted recruit finished an up-and-down freshman year by going 1-2 in his
first NCAA Tournament appearance, the 133-pounder has looked like a legit contender
for much of this season, finishing the dual meet season schedule with a 13-2
While he finished sixth
at the conference tournament despite winning his first two meets, Gulibon is
still 12-7 this year against the 133-field and 9-6 against ranked opponents. He
enters the tournament with an excellent chance to claim his first All-American
One potential match
to look forward to is Gulibon's second round bout, which will be against
Lehigh's Mason Beckman if both wrestlers advance. In the two team's season
opening match, Gulibon beat Beckman, who was ranked second at the time, 8-3.
"I can't be complacent
and stay back and try to hold a lead. I have to keep wrestling," Gulibon said.
"I was a little upset with my performance last year. This year, I'd like to get
out there and keep attacking."
149: Sophomore Zack Beitz (18-9,12th Seed, Fifth at B1G Tournament) One of two Nittany
Lions making their NCAA Tournament debuts this weekend, Beitz may be the least
heralded wrestler Penn State is sending. That being said, the redshirt
sophomore is another guy that appears to be hitting his stride the last month.
A scrapper that has
always had a knack for giving top opponents all they can handle, Beitz has
recently shown the ability to finish off ranked guys. An impressive pin over
fourth ranked Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State as well as a fifth place finish at
the conference tournament has raised his profile.
Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, native is looking to show he belongs at the national
level. While he originally saw time in Penn State's lineup last year as an
injury replacement for Andrew Alton, Beitz has proved he can be a starter, and
an impressive performance this weekend would enhance his reputation even more.
To do it, the 12th-seeded Beitz will have to make sure he doesn't look his past his first round
opponent, Shawn Greevy of Chattanooga. A win there could set up a matchup with
Cornell's Chris Villalonga, the fifth seed and one of the top contenders in the
"Being at the national tournament is something you train
for and look forward to all year long," Beitz said. "This is why we wrestle.
This is the tournament that means so much to all of us. The biggest thing is to
go out there with great focus and know what your goals are."
174: Senior Matt Brown (24-3, Second Seed, Second at B1G Tournament) It's hard to
imagine any competitor being more determined than Matt Brown is right now.
The Penn State
captain has accomplished nearly everything a wrestler can in his four-year
career. He's got over 100 career victories, won an individual conference title,
been to the national finals and claimed All-American honors twice.
All that remains
now is that elusive national championship. Brown enters his final NCAA Championships
as the No. 2 seed at his weight, yet he knows a trip to the finals won't come
As usual, the 174-bracket is brutally tough, with nobody in the top nine having
lost more than six times this season. Having finished fifth last year after
coming up just one win short of a title in 2013, Brown knows better than anyone
that the field is wide open.
competitive bracket, I think they'll be a lot of good matchups,' Brown said. "I
think I'm just going into this weekend knowing the NCAA tournament is a lot of
fun. I know it's exciting but it's nothing that I should be intimidated of or
Brown begins the
weekend with a 10-3 season record against tournament qualifiers, with two of
those loses coming against the top seed, undefeated Robert Kokesh of Nebraska.
Having lost to him
in the finals of the Big Ten tournament, Brown would love a third shot at the
Cornhusker. At the same time, he has a long road to get there and the Nittany
Lion All-American wants to savor every moment on the mat he has left.
"I think I'll
reflect when it's over, knowing my days in a Penn State singlet are numbered,"
Brown said. "I'm excited though, it's fun. It's what we train for. It's not
what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it's what I want to do now."
184: Freshman Matt McCutcheon (23-12, 14th Seed, Fourth at B1G
Tournament) Penn State's lone
freshmen qualifier, Matt McCutcheon is hoping the momentum he picked up at the
Big Ten Championships carries over into this weekend.
While he went just
7-8 during the dual meet season, the redshirt freshman really began to flash
his potential in the conference tournament, going 3-1 with his last two
victories coming against top-15 opponents, including a 9-1 major of Nebraska's
T.J. Dudley in the fourth place bout.
As impressive as
McCutcheon's performance there was, now is when the challenge really begins.
Not unlike many of his teammates, the 184-pounder has a tough second round
opponent, with Arizona State's third seeded Blake Stauffer (31-1) most likely
waiting for him if he can get past his first match.
has the confidence of Sanderson, who believes his first-year wrestler has the
confidence and skill to perform on the sport's grandest stage.
"I thought the best he's
looked was at the Big Ten [Championships]," Sanderson said. "His best shots,
his strongest finishes, more than anything just the best look he's had in his
eye. I think he's going to wrestle with some fire."
197 Pounds: Junior Morgan McIntosh (26-2, Second Seed, First at B1G Tournament)
wrestling, it's generally thought that if you can win in the Big Ten, you can
probably win against anyone. If so, Morgan McIntosh could very well be in line
to claim his first individual national title this weekend.
A year after he
earned his first All-American nod, McIntosh entered the current season with
huge expectations and plenty of responsibility on his shoulders. Having just
blazed his way to his first conference title, the junior is clearly living up
to his reputation as Penn State's next leader and star.
Currently riding an
11-match winning streak that includes victories over five top-10 opponents,
McIntosh has never looked better than he has since the start of the new year.
Nonetheless, he has refused to get complacent.
As one of the
team's captains, McIntosh knows he needs to not only win, but also get bonus
points if Penn State is going to make any noise in the team race. Even after
winning the Big Ten, he still hasn't been satisfied with his performance.
"It's not like a
huge giant breakthrough for me, I've always known that I'm capable of [winning
the conference tournament]," McIntosh said. "It was nice to get there and win
that, but there's other things to worry about. There's always opportunites to
score more and other things I could of done but I can still work on it."
While a lot can
certainly happen in the tournament and nothing is set in stone, a trip to the
finals for McIntosh could likely mean a matchup with top-ranked J'Den Cox of
Missouri, last year's 197-pound national champion and a guy who hasn't lost all
When the two
wrestlers faced off at the Southern Scuffle at the beginning of January, Cox
won a low-scoring 2-1 match. Though he knows he can compete with the Tiger
wrestler, McIntosh is more focused on winning each of his bouts by a large
margin to bolster the team score than he is on preparing himself for a rematch.
"When you think
about the team and all the guys around you, you do wrestle harder," McIntosh said.
"I definitely feel like that. I don't want to win just for me. I want to win
for the team. I've got great guys around me, they've all been working hard and
I just want to go out there and score points."
285: Senior Jimmy Lawson (15-3, Eighth Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament) By now, facing
adversity is as common to Jimmy Lawson as putting on a singlet or trying to
score a takedown.
to Penn State in 2013, the Toms River, New Jersey, native has had so many
setbacks it's been hard to keep track.
First, there was
the personally disappointing 1-2 showing at his first NCAA Tournament. Then
came the devastating knee injury that ended his 2014 season, followed by
various ailments this year that prevented him from sustaining momentum. That's
not to mention his three-year battle with Jon Gingrich for the starting
heavyweight spot, something that would have been too much pressure for many to
None of that
matters anymore. With his final college tournament days away, Lawson is finally
the Lions undisputed guy at 285 and has one more chance to become an
"I embraced the
competition," Lawson said. "Jon's one of the best heavyweights in the nation
and when you practice against someone like that you get better. I think coming
to Penn State was the best opportunity to get better fast. It forced me to work
harder every day. I've been more aggressive this year and I feel confident I
can win a national title."
While Lawson is on
the other side of the bracket than the two wrestlers who beat him this year,
Iowa's Bobby Telford and Michigan's Adam Coon, he still will have plenty of
difficult opponents to face. If Lawson wins his first two matches, he could
easily face No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State with a birth in the
semifinals on the line.
But that's all way
ahead in the future and out of his control. For a guy who's gone through so
much, Lawson is looking at this weekend as a chance to simply have some fun.
"You don't really
feel pressure at this stage of the game," Lawson said. "If don't wrestle
confident you're going to fail because everyone's going 100 percent. I'm not
really feeling pressure I'm just excited. It's a great opportunity. I haven't
been here in two years so I'm excited."
Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - Eleven members of women's swimming and diving team arrived in North
Carolina and are ready to race in the NCAA championship meet. Penn State will
face its toughest competition yet, racing against Division I teams from across
"Last year we swam
really well at this meet and placed 18th," explained senior Carolyn Fittin.
"This year, the goal is to score more points and have our relays make it back
The NCAA Championships
are the most selective meet in collegiate swimming, with strict qualification
requirements. In order to garner an automatic invite, a swimmer must achieve an
"A" standard time in an event. That swimmer is also eligible to compete in
bonus events, but they must have a "B" standard time for their selected races.
In each event,
there are anywhere from 35-40 swimmers invited. Once the number of swimmers
with "A" times are established, those with "B" qualifying times are invited
based on their position in national rankings. Additionally, relays are another
opportunity to receive an invitation. Swimmers do not have to qualify
individually for the meet in order to compete on a relay team, which have their
own "A" and "B" standards.
For the Nittany
Lions, seven out of the 11 swimmers competing qualified for events
individually. In the senior class, Megan Siverling qualified in the 500 and
1650 freestyle events, while Fittin was invited in the 50 freestyle. Both
Siverling and Fittin have competed at NCAAs in past seasons. For the junior
Nittany Lions, Ally Ackman qualified in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, Melissa
Rodriguez in the 200 breaststroke, and Katie Rowe in the 200 butterfly. Ackman,
Rodriguez and Rowe were also members of the 2014 NCAA Team for Penn State. The
youngest class competing this week is the sophomore group, led by Katelyn
Sowinski who qualified in the 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly, and Casey
Francis who will swim the 200 butterfly. Sowinski also competed at NCAAs last
Penn State will
also participate in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle relays,
as well as the 200 and 400 medley relays.
"We did not swim as
well as we were hoping at Big Tens," Fittin said. "But we still have 11 girls
who qualified for this meet and we know we can end the season on a high note."
The Nittany Lions
placed seventh in the Big Ten, dropping from their third place finish in 2014.
"We knew we had to
bounce back and be ready to race this week. We spent spring break training and
preparing- I think that's going to show," Fittin explained. "The turn around
time between NCAA's and Big Tens is quick, but we feel ready."
While NCAAs marks
the end of the season for Penn State, it also marks the end of four long
swimming careers. The entire senior class qualified for NCAAs and will
represent the blue and white one last time. This week marks the senior class of
Carolyn Fittin, Caitlyn Karr, Katelyn Miller and Megan Siverling will represent
Penn State together at the NCAA championships.
"As a class, we
want to go in and have fun with it," said Karr. "We want to enjoy every last
Competition begins on
Thursday at 11 a.m. in Greensboro, North Carolina.