BLOG: Nittany Lions Set Their Sights on Oklahoma State
Feb. 13, 2014
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson is a man that enjoys tight competition and likes to see how his team will respond to a challenge.
With the Nittany Lions set to face Oklahoma State on Friday, the same team that came five points away from preventing a third straight national championship for them last March, Sanderson is looking forward to seeing his team tested by one of college wrestling's elite programs.
"This is a big dual and over the history of college wrestling they've been as dominant as any team in any sport," Sanderson said. "It's fun and it'll be a little bit of a change."
Although the Lions are the current kings of college wrestling, ranked no. 1 in the nation and vying for their fourth straight national title, the Cowboys are the most decorated program in the sport's history, having won a record 34 national championships.
Currently ranked fifth in the nation, the Cowboys are undefeated in the Big 12 and feature a talented lineup with nine ranked wrestlers who could easily give the Nittany Lions a tight matchup.
Having not faced each other in a dual since 2010 and having not met in State College since 1996, the sold out match is set to be one of Penn State's most anticipated dual meets in recent years.
"It's been a while since Penn State has hosted Oklahoma State," Sanderson said. "The match sold out in a matter of minutes so that gives you a good idea of the respect and the interest in the matchup."
While the Nittany Lions rarely compete against schools in the Big 12, Sanderson said that he welcomes having the opportunity to compete against Oklahoma State, as it brings an element of freshness to the team's schedule.
Since nearly all of Penn State's dual meets come against teams that compete in the Big Ten or are located in Pennsylvania, the prospect of taking on one the best team's in the country from another conference is exciting to both Nittany Lions wrestlers and fans alike.
"At lot of times with our schedule we see the same schools and rivals like Iowa and Minnesota and Lehigh," Sanderson said. "We try to put a schedule together that benefits our team and helps them reach their goals but that is also good enough for our fans."
Coming off of a tough 18-17 upset loss to Minnesota this past Sunday, the Blue and White will take the mat against the Cowboys with a chip on their shoulder, as losing is not something anyone in the program is accustomed to.
Despite the loss, Sanderson dismissed the notion that the setback has caused any lingering feelings of disappointment and that he and his team were ready to take on a new challenge with Oklahoma State.
"Whether you win or lose you should be learning from your experiences," Sanderson said. "You can go up and down our lineup and you can always find areas we can improve on but we're optimistic and we're moving on."
Junior Matt Brown agreed with his coach and said that the team has already gotten rid of the bad taste in their mouth from the Minnesota dual.
"It was just one match and that's all it really is," Brown said. "Obviously I'm disappointed we lost but I'm ready to go this week."