Nittany Lions Earn No. 4 Spot in Final USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll
Feb. 23, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State wrestling team, led by head coach Cael Sanderson, earned a No. 4 ranking in the final USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll, measuring dual meet strength. The finish is the highest for the Nittany Lions since the NWCA and USA Today began partnering on the poll and Penn State's highest final dual ranking in nearly two decades. In addition, sophomore Andrew Long (Creston, Iowa) jumped to No. 3 in Intermat's final regular season individual rankings to give Penn State four wrestlers ranked among the top three at their respective weights.
Cornell ended the year as the top-ranked squad with 271 points while Iowa was in second at 266. Oklahoma State was No. 3 with 251 while Penn State followed No. 4 with 245. Minnesota rounded out the top five with 231 points. Virginia Tech (6), Oklahoma (7), Lehigh (8), Rutgers (T9) and Boise State (T9) closed out the top ten. Michigan (11), Northwestern (14), Wisconsin (15), Illinois (19) and Purdue (23) were also ranked among the top 25, giving the Big Ten eight teams listed in the final dual meet ranking.
While the USA Today/NWCA poll reflects projected dual meet strength, Intermat's official tournament team ranking (projecting post-season tournament finishes based on each entity's individual rankings) has Penn State in the No. 2 spot as does TheOpenMat.com. WIN Magazine projects Penn State's tournament rating as No. 3.
Long, the 2010 national runner-up at 125, is now 11-1 at 133 and jumped to No. 3 on Intermat's list thanks to a dominating 12-5 win over then-No. 3 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. Long has seven majors and a pin in his 11 wins. Red-shirt freshman Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) is Penn State's highest ranked individual, sporting a No. 2 ranking at 174. Ruth finished the regular season with a stellar 29-1 record, including a 19-0 dual meet mark (8-0 in Big Ten duals), 11 pins, five technical falls and three majors.
Two-time All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.) is ranked No. 3 at 149 after closing out the year with a decisive 9-1 major over then-No. 10 Cole Schmitt of Wisconsin. Molinaro went 25-2 during the regular season, including a 15-0 dual meet mark (8-0 in Big Ten duals), three pins, three techs and eight majors. Red-shirt freshman David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) completed a perfect regular season with yet another tech fall vs. Wisconsin last Friday and is ranked No. 3 at 157. Taylor is 31-0 overall with a 19-0 dual meet record (8-0 in Big Ten duals). 30 of his 31 wins garnered bonus points as he has seven pins, 14 tech falls and nine majors. Taylor's 30 bonus point victories is second all-time for the single season total at Penn State, just two shy of the record of 32.
Joining that quartet with top ten rankings are three other Nittany Lions, meaning seven of Penn State's eight ranked grapplers are ranked in the top ten. Senior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) is now ranked No. 10 at 125. Pataky heads into the Big Ten Championships with an 8-3 overall record, including two pins, two tech falls and a major. True freshman Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) is ranked No. 7 at 141. The Nittany Lion rookie has a 26-6 record, with all six losses coming to wrestlers ranked above him. Alton has 17 pins and three majors with the 17 pins being the fourth most in a single season at Penn State. Junior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) is ranked No. 6 at heavyweight. Wade downed then-No. 10 Eric Bugenhagen of Wisconsin in the season finale and is now 26-4 on the year with nine pins, three techs and two majors. Rounding out Penn State's ranked grapplers is sophomore Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.). Wright, a freshman All-American at 174 two years ago, is ranked No. 17 at 184 and has a 12-6 record with five pins and four majors.
Head coach Cael Sanderson's Nittany Lions, which closed out a 17-1-1 dual meet season (6-1-1 Big Ten) last Friday with a 30-12 win over Wisconsin, will next head to the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships on March 5-6 at Northwestern University. The two-day event is the national qualifier for the conference and begins with an 11 a.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Central) session on Saturday, March 5. The Sunday session starts at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central) with the finals airing live on the Big Ten Network at 4 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Central). The 2010-11 Penn State wrestling season is presented by the Family Clothesline. All Penn State events will once again air live on Forever Broadcasting's WRSC (1390 AM) and WSQV (92.1 FM). All radio broadcasts are streamed live at GoPSUsports.com as part of the All-Access package. The 2010-11 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.