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Jan. 11, 2013
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - As he and his teammates entered the wrestling room for practice on Tuesday, junior Ed Ruth couldn't help cracking a smile.
With the Nittany Lions preparing for their first dual meet since coming back from winter break, the two time All-American admitted he was excited to get back into the swing of things.
"Getting back into the training room is like getting back to what we're used to," said Ruth. "It's good to be back in our routine."
Penn State will compete at home for the first time since defeating Lock Haven on Dec. 15 this Sunday, when Michigan State travels to Rec Hall.
Despite the layoff from dual action, the team will have plenty of momentum to carry into the second half of their season after winning the Southern Scuffle tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Jan. 2.
The first place finish gave the Nittany Lions their third-straight Southern Scuffle Crown, something that team believes is a testament to their hard work and dedication.
"The Scuffle is a great tournament and this year it was really competitive as a team race," said junior David Taylor. "To be able to win by 20 points shows that we're on the right track."
Although the wrestlers seemed pleased with their performance at the Scuffle, they maintained that they are keeping their focus on the challenges ahead.
"Winning the scuffle is great but it's not what we're training for," said Taylor. "We're training for the Big Ten Title and the national title."
The biggest positive that Taylor believes has come out of winning the Scuffle is that it has gotten he and his teammates back into a competitive mindset.
It is a mindset that the Nittany Lions will need to keep, with their next six matches all against Big Ten opponents.
Still, the team insisted that they feel they are in great shape, both physically and mentally, heading back into dual competition.
"Coming back from this tournament, I think we're wrestling good," said Taylor. "I think we're all feeling great coming off of break."
With five meets against teams ranked within the top 25 over the next month, the Nittany Lions know they will need to be on top of their game.
It is a challenge they welcome, as the wrestlers have grown accustomed to competing with a bull's eye on their back.
The key, according to Ruth, is approaching every meet with the same attitude, no matter who the opponent is.
"We're training the same every day for whatever match we have coming up," said Ruth. "The mindset doesn't change."
The team feels that if they are able to maintain their focus, that there is no reason for them to not contend for their goal of a third-straight national championship in March.
At this point in the year, both Taylor and Ruth feel as though their hard work has already paid off and put them in a good position for the rest of the season.
All that's left for them to do now is to take care of business the way they have all year.
"The work has already been put in at this point, all that's left to do now is to continue to make progress," said Taylor. "We've got two months to really define our season."
Ruth echoed his teammates opinion, and stated that all the Nittany Lions need to do the rest of the way is to continue to perform the way they always have.
"Competing is what we do," said Ruth. "This is when we do what we know how to do."