PITTSBURGH — A weeks worth of workout following Penn States loss to Iowa last weekend saw Nittany Lion wrestlers practicing leg attacks from scramble situations.
Afterall, the Hawkeyes came out on top in more than one scramble, and Penn State coaches believed this was the difference in Penn States 22-16 loss. Consider those deficiencies erased for now.
We spent a lot of time coming out from the back because we lost a few takedowns, and some matches there where we feel like we shouldve gotten them, Penn State associated head coach Cody Sanderson said. So it was nice to see them be able to utilize what we worked on this week.
Against Pittsburgh on Friday, Penn State wrestlers earned multiple takedowns following scrambles to their advantage and walloped the Panthers. Theyll hope to do the same when No. 3 Penn State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) resumes its conference slate with a matchup against No. 5 Ohio State (11-2, 5-2 Big Ten) on Sunday.
Every match is tough. We have to go out there to win, Penn State senior Quentin Wright said. Its all about the individual matchups. Weve got to win those close ones, those 3-2 4-3 matches. Weve got to focus on grinding out these matches.
Its the fourth-straight road dual for the Nittany Lions and it will come inside Ohio States St. John Arena where the Buckeyes are expected to send eight ranked wrestlers into action. Among them are the Stieber brothers, Logan and Hunter, who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively.
The Buckeyes are also expected to send No. 12 Nikko Triggas (125), No. 19 Cam Tessari (149), No. 19 Josh Demas (157), No. 7 Nick Heflin (174), No. 16 Kenny Courts (184 or 197) and No. 12 Peter Capone (285) to the mat.
Penn State will send its normal lineup out with the only exceptions being at 141 and 285 pounds. Senior Bryan Pearsall is questionable although Sanderson said he should be ready to go. If Pearsall cant wrestle, Derek Reber will likely take his place.
The coaching staff will decide prior to the match whether to send No. 17 Jon Gingrich, who has missed the last two duals with an illness, or Jimmy Lawson to the mat at heavyweight.
There are going to be some great wrestlers out there, Sanderson said. Between our team and their team, theres going to be a lot to see and its one of those ones where we need to go out right away and just start scoring points.
Despite all the travel they have endured over the past two weeks, Penn State wrestlers havent shown much road weariness. After the loss to Iowa that dropped Penn State to No. 3 in the NWCA Online/USA Today Coaches poll, the Nittany Lions have recovered to post 37-0 and 31-7 wins over No. 8 Illinois and No. 15 Pittsburgh.
Penn State grapplers were aggressive in the early goings of those duals and will have to come out with similar zeal against the Buckeyes as Ohio State will likely lead off with three of the most dangerous lightweights in the nation.
Triggas and both Stiebers have proven their abilities to rack up bonus points consistently. Combined, they boast 21 pins, 13 major decisions and six technical falls so far this season. Each one has notched a pin in quicker than 50 seconds and both Stiebers are unbeaten.
We cant sit around and wait for anything to happen in that match because thats a good team, Sanderson said.
Penn States top-ranked 184-pounder Ed Ruth is looking forward to the dual as it will give him a chance to catch up with Courts, a childhood friend. Ruth and Courts grew up together in Harrisburg. Although Courts attended Central Dauphin High School, Courts dad often drove the two friends to youth wrestling practices.
Courts could bump up, however and wrestle Wright at 197. The Buckeyes normal 197-pounder, No. 13 Andrew Campolattano, hasnt wrestled since Jan. 20. Courts has wrestled the last two meets at 197.
Either way, Ruth is preparing as if hell wrestle his buddy for the first time in collegiate action.
Yeah, I feel like Im going to see him there, Ruth said. Its always nice to see somebody and then wrestle somebody in a friendly competition with a guy that youve grown up with.