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Dec. 15, 2010
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State wrestling program is unique. Besides the fact that the Nittany Lions' 33-man roster is made up of 21 freshmen, the Penn State program has a winning attitude unlike any other team around.
Head coach Cael Sanderson and his coaching staff has instilled a sense of intensity and determination in their Nittany Lions and it seems to be working. The team is undefeated this season, boasting a team record of 6-0. Most recently, Penn State shutout local rival Lock Haven 48-0 in a dual meet this past Sunday.
Each and every Penn State wrestler seems to have one goal in mind when they step onto the mat and face an opponent. Not only are the determined to win and score points for the Nittany Lions, each wrestler goes out and wrestles hard for seven minutes no matter what.
Sophomore Nick Fischer made his dual-debut appearance for the Nittany Lions this past Sunday against Lock Haven and proved just how deep the Penn State roster really is. Fischer stepped in to wrestle at the 174 spot as the team had to juggle around a few wrestlers because starters Jake Kemerer and Quentin Wright were not in the line-up. Usually seen in the 165 spot, Kemerer was out sick on Sunday and 184 starter Quentin Wright is out with a shoulder injury. Instead, James Vollrath was listed at 165 and Ed Ruth bumped up from 174 to 184, leaving the 174 spot open to Fischer.
And boy did he make good use of the opportunity. In a bout that went back and forth between Fischer and Lock Haven's Michael Khoury, the Nittany Lion came out on top. The two wrestlers entered the third period of the bout locked at a score of 4-5. Khoury chose down to start the third period, and quickly escaped to tie the score at 5-5. With time winding down and pressure on each wrestler to finish out the match, Fischer countered a Khoury shot and sealed a bout-winning takedown with just seven seconds to go in the third period.
Coach Sanderson said that he couldn't have asked for more from a kid who has simply been waiting his turn to wrestle.
"He did a great job, I'm really happy with him," said Sanderson. "Fischer is a guy that's been right there and been doing really well in the room and in open tournaments and any time you can get those guys a match it's a good thing."
Fischer's plan going into the match-up with Khoury paid tribute to the mentality of the Penn State wrestling program as a whole.
"We're going to wrestle how we wrestle," said Fischer. "Every match we go out there we're going to wrestle Penn State style - everybody is going to go hard for seven minutes."
Ultimately, Fischer said that his win wouldn't have been possible without all the hard work and dedication he has put into this season.
"I'm confident in my conditioning," said Fischer. "Penn State has the best conditioning in the country, and we're just going to keep coming at them. I knew if I kept coming at him I'd get that takedown in the end."
Fischer also tipped his hat to the coaching style of Sanderson and the progress he has made under Sanderson's leadership this season.
"I want to keep improving until I'm the man at whatever weight class I'm at, said Fischer. "I'm going to keep wrestling. I mean wrestling these guys in the room, they're good guys making me better. A couple of years ago before Cael came in, I probably would have been the starter my whole career but I wouldn't be nearly as good as I am now. I'd go out there and be a mediocre wrestler and now I'm getting to be a great wrestler."
Fischer's success is just one example of the exciting things that have been happening for the Penn State wrestling program. One thing that is for sure is that each and every Nittany Lion steps out onto the mats anticipating a seven-minute battle. No breaks, no letting-up and no giving in.
Thanks to a dedicated coaching staff that has instilled a hard-nosed attitude into a talented group of athletes, the No. 5 Penn State wrestling team will definitely be one to watch this season.