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Nov. 7, 2012
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - In college athletics, when a student decides to transfer to another school, there are many adjustments that must be made. The same can be said about a student who decides to switch sports.
This year, Penn State redshirt sophomore Jimmy Lawson has been attempting both tasks at the same time.
After spending the last two years at Monmouth University in New Jersey where he played football, Lawson transferred to Penn State where he is now vying for the heavyweight position on the wrestling team.
So far, Lawson has been making the transition smoothly, putting himself in serious contention to be a starter after beating fellow heavyweight Jon Gingrich 3-2 during last Thursday's Intrasquad Dual.
"It was definitely exciting," said Lawson. "I've been away from wrestling for two years and its great to come back and be a part of such a great team."
Although he was victorious at the scrimmage, Lawson's quest for the starting heavyweight spot isn't complete yet.
Since he and Gingrich have been so close in competition with each other, head coach Cael Sanderson wants the pair to wrestle one more time.
Still, Sanderson is very happy with Lawson's performance so far and is optimistic about his future as a college wrestler.
"He's a great athlete and he's very strong," said Sanderson. "He has a lot of potential."
While he obviously wants the starting spot badly, Lawson understands the situation and says he will support whatever decision Sanderson makes.
"Gingrich is a great heavyweight and it's good going against him everyday," said Lawson. "Either one of us would be great for the job.
Despite being new to both the team and the school, Lawson thinks the transition has gone well so far.
One thing that has been a huge factor in his adjustment to life at Penn State is the help of his teammates.
Not only have they been there to help him during practice, but also outside of wrestling as he gets used to life at a different campus.
"Something that's different about this college and these teammates is that we are like a family," said Lawson. "We all want to make each other better people and wrestlers and that's been the great thing about adjusting."
Along with his teammates, Lawson also credited Sanderson and the coaching staff for helping him improve as a wrestler.
"It's an honor to be coached by the coaches we have here," said Lawson. "It's a great staff."
Though it is quite a different sport than the one he spent the last two years playing, Lawson has enjoyed getting back into wrestling.
One thing about college wrestling that he admits he has had to get used to is getting physically tested during practices.
"Back in high school I didn't really have to worry about getting beaten up in practice too much," said Lawson. "You definitely learn quick here that you have to roll with the punches."
Of course, dealing with bumps and bruises is second nature to Lawson at this point, because of his experiences playing football.
However, Lawson actually believes that college wrestling has been just as physically demanding as football, if not even more so.
"Wrestling is still a contact sport, if not even more," said Lawson. "I've never really felt this beat up before."
Though it was a tough decision to make, Lawson is glad he decided to come to Penn State to restart his wrestling career.
The chance to come to a prestigious university and be a part of a distinguished program is what he believes has made it worth it.
"This is such a great school," said Lawson. "We're trying to build something great here and I'm honored to be a part of that.