By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every match takes on a theme of its own. Each one
different from the last and while wrestling is mainly an individual sport, the
match against Nebraska show the team's true identity.
Friday night's 24-10 victory over the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers was a
match highlighted by toughness and determination, qualities that have been
instilled by head coach Cael Sanderson since day one and were demonstrated in
matches like these.
Friday night was only the fifth time in nine matches that an opponent
has scored more than one win in a match against the Nittany Lions this season.
Penn State captured seven of the 10 wins, which was largely encouraging for head
coach Cael Sanderson, but also a point of emphasis.
"We want to sneak one or two of those obviously, but that's a pretty
good team and I think our guys did what they had to do," said Sanderson. "I
think they wrestled pretty well. We weren't I feel at our best, but we
shouldn't be at our best tonight either."
The test could not have come at a better time for Sanderson's squad. The
only other tight dual match this season came early on, when the Nittany Lions recorded
a victory at No. 7 Virginia Tech 21-15. Penn State moves into the toughest part
of their schedule, as the Blue and White will have road contests against No. 25
Northwestern and No. 8 Illinois, while hosting No. 3 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan
in the coming weeks.
The Nittany Lions tied their lowest bonus point total with two
wrestlers, Jason Nolf and Zain Retherford, earning the extra points. While the dominating
wins were absent most of the night, Sanderson is still pleased with the grit of
his guys, as many of them earned hard fought victories.
"We had some big wins in those tight matches. Matt's [McCutcheon] cutting the
guy with 20 seconds left and scoring a takedown on an All-American from last
year and a tough opponent," said Sanderson. "That was a big win. Even in the
first couple of weights, those guys are tough kids. Our guys finished the
matches strong, which is good."
Sanderson, who preaches an aggressive wrestling style and encourages
bonus points in every match, realizes that the matchups play a big part in
scoring those extra team points.
"We won some close matches, but those bonus points are obviously what we
are looking for, but it depends on who's wrestling who," said Sanderson. "A win
when it's a big win is great. Zain [Retherford] getting a major was huge
because that was probably their [Nebraska] best guy. Matt [McCutcheon] I think
beat their other highest ranked guy, so those were big matches."
Retherford, who earned a major decision over No. 5 Jake Suefiohn,
reiterated how even though he was dominating in his match, Suefiohn, like the
rest of his Cornhusker teammates, kept coming and never made it easy.
"Those guys kept coming forward. It's a tough team and they kept battling,"
said Retherford. "[Suefiohn] was trying to take me down just as much as I was
trying to take him down."
The epitome of Friday night's win over the Cornhuskers was McCutcheon's
last second victory over No. 5 TJ Dudley. McCutcheon was even with Dudley
through two periods before Dudley tallied an escape with just about 10 seconds
McCutcheon was forced to change his end of the match strategy after that
escape and used that as a learning opportunity for the future.
"I think that I should have tried to ride harder there," said
McCutcheon. "I let him have an easy escape and that's something that I need to
change, but he got to his feet quick and I had a peek at the time and I knew I
had time to score, so I let him go and got back to my leg attacks and got the
The sold out crowd of 6,537 patrons became anxious as the clock was
ticking down, but engulfed into roar when McCutcheon scored a last second
takedown to earn the victory.
"I wasn't really sure on the time, but I knew I needed to finish the
right way. I let my head slip out a few times that match and it's something
that I'm going to have to work on later on, but I kept my head under and came
out and got the takedown," said McCutcheon. "I wasn't sure how much time was
left on the clock, but I knew I had to finish quick."
The sophomore, who missed the previous two matches due to back spasms,
credits the training staff for getting him healthy and back on the mat.
"I have to give a lot of credit to our trainer, who's worked with me day
in and day out helping me out and I am really grateful to have him with us,"
While the win moves the Blue and White to a perfect 9-0 on the season,
McCutcheon, like the rest of his teammates, still see's plenty of room for
improvement and echoes a statement that reinforces the philosophy of the entire
"I think that I still have a lot to improve on from that match, but it's
a good win, but I have to go back and fix some things and try and score more
points next match," said McCutcheon.