UNIVERSITY PARK — David Taylor compared the atmosphere and the format Sunday to the NCAA finals.
The Penn State wrestling dual meet at the Bryce Jordan Center against Pitt set an NCAA record for attendance with an announced crowd of 15,996. The University of Iowa previously held the record; they had 15,995 fans in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in 2008.
Taylor, whose pin in his 165-pound match contributed to Penn State’s 28-9 victory, said he has been looking forward to wrestling in front of the BJC fans for a long time.
“As a kid, it doesn’t matter what sport it is, you think about doing it in front of a lot of people,” he said, adding that it says a lot about the fans and the wrestling program to get that many people in the building.
The senior said it will probably be the only chance that he will ever have to wrestle there, so he tried to make the most of it and enjoy it.
Coach Cael Sanderson said that people have been working behind the scenes in the past week to try to make the attendance record possible, but space is somewhat limited because of fire codes.
He said the fact that they were able to pull it off is a big deal for the university and the wrestling program, adding that the record will probably be broken soon, but they are happy to hold it now.
Bleachers and risers on the BJC floor allowed for a few hundred more people than basketball games and gave a chance for some season-ticket holders to see the match up close.
Freshman Brianna Frolo had never been a big wrestling fan, but sitting on the floor, she was able to feed off the crowd’s energy and get excited. She has never been to a match at Rec Hall, but after her first experience with wrestling Sunday, she said she might try to get to one this year.
For season ticket holder Ted Sunday, sitting on the floor was a chance to get closer to the action than he would be at Rec Hall.
Sunday, who has been attending the matches for 10 years, said that the crowd was louder and more electric than usual, and that sitting on the floor was a fun experience.
The Pine Grove Mills resident said he tries to make it out to all the matches and that wrestling is his favorite sport among Penn State athletics.
“It’s the one-on-one competition,” he said about why he enjoys wrestling so much.
Sanderson said he doesn’t know if the BJC dual meet will become an annual occurrence and that it will largely be up the the fans and their interest.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.