Oct. 29, 2013
Coach Sanderson's Press Conference Full Video!
Sights & Sounds at Media Day - VIDEO Interviews
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team and head coach Cael Sanderson met the press for the first time this year as the team hosted its annual Penn State Wrestling Media Day. The event, held in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, was attended by well nearly 40 local and regional media.
Please check back to this release throughout the evening as more information is posted on the event, from video and photos to head coach Cael Sanderson's press conference transcript.
Every time new information is posted, fans following Penn State wrestling through twitter and facebook will be notified through social media (see below).
In preparation for the start of the new campaign, the Nittany Lions will be sending a group of unattached wrestlers to the Clarion Knight Point Open on Sunday, Nov. 3, as well as a strong contingent of grapplers to the Binghamton Bearcat Open on Sunday, Nov. 10.
Penn State opens up the 2013-14 season at Rider on Sat., Nov. 16, and at Lehigh on Sun., Nov. 17. All-Americans David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) and Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah) will take part in the NWCA All-Star Classic two weeks prior to that on Nov. 2 at George Mason. In addition, Penn State will have a presence at the Binghamton Open on Nov. 10 with many Lions making the trip unattached.
Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at www.twitter.com/pennstateWREST and on Penn State Wrestling's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling. The 2013-14 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.
HEAD COACH Cael Sanderson PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Cael Sanderson MEDIA DAY 2013 PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTION
Q: You guys started practice on October 10th, what are you observations as to where the team is at?
A: Well, I think we have a lot of real tough, talented kids. We will find out with a couple of them this weekend and then we will find out in Binghamton, but I think these guys are as ready to go as any team that we have ever had. We have the potential to be a great team and you can see that by who we have returning and with some of the new faces that are coming up. We are really excited about the potential for this season.
Q: What team are you looking forward to more--Oklahoma State or wrestling at the Bryce Jordan Center?
A: Well I think that you have to take it one at a time. It isn't one or the other because they are both separate challenges in themselves. The BJC is exciting for us as a program just to see what we can do, not only for our program but wrestling in the state of Pennsylvania....We have Pitt and Penn State going at it. Right now Iowa holds the record for the largest crowd and that isn't just the University of Iowa, the whole state takes pride in that. Pennsylvania can do the same thing and that is what I am hoping that they do, the wrestling community and the Penn State community getting behind the match. It's a chance to see this team. Its not an easy thing to do to get tickets into Rec Hall, to get a chance to see David Taylor and Ed Ruth--two greats, not just Penn State greats but college wrestling greats. Anyone who gets a chance to get in there and see those guys at the BJC Dual...I believe people will take advantage of it. I think we can sell it out.
Q: What have you seen so far at this stage in the game? What are you excited about?
A: Well, we are really excited about this year. I think we will find that out. I think this is a very driven team. We have, obviously, great leadership in many different ways. It's a close team. You're talking about guys who have been together for a while now. We will find this out throughout the year. Just like any other team, we have to make progress every match and our focus has to be on getting better and better. We need to enjoy being the best that we can be, every chance that we get to compete...with that mentality, the team is going to score a lot of points.
Q: As a successful wrestler and now as a coach, what keeps you going year after year?
A: I don't think any coach or athlete is ever going to be satisfied. You always want to make progress and there is always area for you to improve. That's the mentality. I was taught growing up with my Dad to never be satisfied being as good as you are. That's the same mindset we want our guys to have. Regardless of where they are they can always get better--that's the challenge, that's what is exciting. Practice is fun every day because there is always a way for you to get better and areas you can improve on: technically, mentally. Some guys are trying to be leaders; there is always something you can do better to contribute to the program and to make the program better. That is what needs to keep you hungry.
Q: You have to big losses from last year, Quentin Wright and Brian Pearsall...there is no 141lb yet...what is your plan?
A: We are very deep in that weight class this year as you can see. As you go through the lineup we are 3-4 guys deep. We will let them wrestle and we will figure out who the right guy is for that position. We don't look at (141) as a weight class we won't be competitive in, we feel as though we will be very strong at 141.
Q: Can Jimmy Gulibon go 141? Or will he stay at 133?
A: I think he is 133 right now. We can talk about moving him up in the future, but we aren't ready to move him up right now. It would be great to get he and Conoway and Nico all in the lineup this year, but looking down the road that is probably not the best move for our team.
Q: Has there been any thought given to redshirting Nico Megaludis? Or can you not do that with a guy who is a National Finalist back to back years?
A: We have talked about that and Nico has talked about that, but that's not the plan right now. We want to put our best team out there most of the time. There are exceptions based on the individual and the team that we have, but this is a very competitive year this year. There are some very good teams and we want Nico in our lineup.
Q: Where is Ed Ruth at in his preparations for the season? Why didn't he go to the NWCA?
A: He's doing well and ready to go. That was a coaching decision that was made several weeks ago. They just released that recently.
Q: Can he (Ruth) get any better?
A: He can always get better. He wants to be an Olympic champion, and he is going to have to get better to be an Olympic champion. He is going to have to do things the little things differently, his technique will have to improve in some areas, which he found out a little bit this summer. He is definitely a guy who is nothing short of amazing, through his career over the past three years. There is always room for improvement and he is a guy who likes to compete, he competes every day in practice. There are a lot of reasons why he is as good as he is, one of them is because he works hard and he is competitive. A competitive person always tries to get better.
Q: Will Zack Beitz wrestle this year or are you set on red shirting him?
A: We aren't set on anything at this point. We are going to wrestle our best team this year. Beitz is doing really well, he had a good redshirt year last year. He is one of those kids we are real excited about. He works real hard and is just a tough, hard nosed kid. It's going to be good, but we are going to wrestle our best guy. We have Nate Morgan at 141 this year and he was out last year, got hurt his first match and tore his knee. We have some solid candidates in that weight class that will compete there.
Q: There were a couple schedule changes this year, what went into that decision?
A: There is no Intrasquad meet. It is something that we have played around with for years. We have always had one to set the lineup, but this year we don't need that because we have an open tournament that we are going to hit that will help us set our lineup. That's the reason for that change. It's always a little strange--a public wrestle-off. It's a little awkward at times. You're trying to build a team and then at the same time have them compete against each other? The Nittany Lion Open not happening is just this year. We wanted to get up to Boston and that was about the only time that we could go. We are going to get the right amount of matches in. That is just something that we are playing with.
Q: Can you talk about that Boston trip a little bit? Boston University was talking about cutting their wrestling program, why are you going?
A: That was just a situation in which we heard they were in trouble, possibly being dropped and we just asked if there was anything that we could do. The coach asked if we could come wrestle them and we said O.K.. We have been told, I have been told, whether it is true or not, that they will sell out their arena for that. That would be a great thing for Boston.
Q: Coaches say that it gets harder to win championships year after year, what do you think?
A: I think every year is different. You have a different group of kids and different sets of strengths and weaknesses. It's just a little different. The first year the guys are hungry and want to do something that they have never done before...it's a different challenge, you have to have the right people in place to continue to win and to stay motivated. We want to keep getting better. Our goal as a program and as a staff is to make sure Penn State is the best place to wrestle in the country. That's what we are trying to do and we want to make sure our guys are competing the right way. The wins and the losses will take care of themselves.
Q: For the guys who have won multiple championships, is it hard for them to keep that motivation going?
A: I think each individual is a little different. For the most part, I don't think we really have many guys that are completely satisfied with the way things ended, even last year. We have to keep them motivated. Everyone wants to win a National championship, then after you win, you want to dominate. Ed Ruth is a guy who got a major decision in the last two NCAA finals, which is remarkable, to say the least. But now he is looking down the road. He has a tough weight class and if he wants to be an Olympic and World champion he needs to continue to make progress. We need his leadership and for him to continue to score those points. I really don't see motivation being an issue for our program,
Q: Would you say that 285 is Lawson's spot to lose? Or is that still a competition?
A: No, it's still a competition. Every weight class goes back and forth. We ended up making that coaches decision to wrestle Lawson at the end. They are all capable. Nick Ruggear is back, he was hurt last year, but he is in the mix and we are excited to see him compete. It's been a while since any of those three have competed, so we will see where they are at. We see them in practice all the time, but we want to see them on the mat.
Q: What do you think Morgan McIntosh got out of his redshirt year?
A: He had a solid year. He is a guy that we expect to be able to dominate, just like our other big guns. He is a guy that we are looking forward to being a big gun and to score a lot of points. He is a lot bigger this year, we asked a lot out of him to step up as a true freshman and to wrestle. We were looking down the road and at the lineup and we thought that would be the best thing for our team. He was willing and he had some great wins and was very close to being an All-American. He learned a lot and with that experience, he is planning on winning this year. He better be.
Q: You tweeted about Andrew and Dylan (Alton) and there shoulder injuries over the off season, how is their progress?
A: They are ahead of schedule. Anytime that you have a major shoulder injury like that that requires surgery it takes time. They have both been doing a great job and I think they are a month ahead of schedule. They won't be wrestling here for a while yet, maybe December or January.
Q: What can the incoming freshman bring to the team inside of the wrestling room?
A: We have a solid group of true freshman. This is a great time to be young at Penn State. You have guys like Ed Ruth, David Taylor and Nico Megaludis to learn from, to watch and to train with. Guys like Matt McCutcheon, Cody Law, Garrett Hammond...those guys are really taking advantage. It's one thing to redshirt to use that opportunity to take the year to get ready to win. That is what our guys are doing.
Q: What efforts went into setting up the schedule this year?
A: Scheduling is always a challenge. Getting as many home matches as we do, Cody does a great job with that. We put it on him and he finds a way. Even getting a match in the BJC looked like it wasn't going to happen because of all of the conflicts. Ultimately the only match we could get over there was the one that we got. We will take it and see what we can do. Getting Oklahoma State to come in here is great for our program. That is the most talked about dual that we have here this year. They have always had a lot of tough, Pennsylvania kids in their lineup, so they want people to see them in the state of Pennsylvania. Scheduling is a big deal. You have to have a plan that works for your team now. Cody does a great job in getting matches and that is what we need. We try to keep a consistent flow. If you look around the country, some teams don't have a home dual for a two month period of time, which is hard to build a consistent following that way. Coach Cody has been able to keep it fairly consistent with (seven or) eight home duals.
Q: Is there any added pressure, being three time champions? How do you take everyone's best shot?
A: I think it is exciting. Last year, with everywhere we went, with the exception of Illinois, was the biggest home crowd. That is exciting just because of the way our guys are wrestling. People want a chance to see them compete. We aren't really worried too much, we expect to get everyone's best shots. We would rather be in that situation than not.
Q: What do you expect from Matt Brown this year?
A: Just progress. He is one of those guys who is real consistent and does a great job. You don't get 4.0 GPAs and success in the ROTC program, like he has had, without being consistent and focused, with a clear purpose.
Q: Do you think Ruth and Taylor will partner up in practice?
A: We want our guys to pick the best partner they can find everyday. We have a lot of tough partners. Those guys training with each other, that's what it takes. In addition to that, we have a Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. In the finals last year we had Taylor, Brown, Quentin and Ruth all in a row. There is a reason for that. They train with each other every day. When someone is good at one weight, they are usually good at the weight above and the weight below. We have a lot of great training partners and I think that is the best thing we can do for these guys.
Q: Do you think that the college sport of wrestling is strong and growing?
A: I think that we have more teams that think they can win the National championship right now in the history of college wrestling. To me, that is strength. We still have programs that are struggling, that is usually because people aren't supporting their program, watching their matches and the alumni aren't giving back...there is always reasons and excuses for that. Wrestling is growing. ESPN coverage of the sport is growing, they continue to do more and more and they wouldn't be doing that if people weren't watching. There are a lot of programs who think they can win a championship. Maybe not this year, but they have all of the tools to be successful. That is a good thing. If you look at the history of college wrestling, not a lot of teams outside of a few have been successful. That is a good sign for the sport.
Q: Did anyone stand out to you over the summer?
A: Everyone is getting better. I think that we will see that as we move forward. Our lightweights had a very good summer. Conaway had a great summer. He was here every day...we had to send him home he worked so much. This team is going to be fun to watch. We have 10 solid weight classes. We will have 10 guys who are planning on winning.