Penn State‘s weekend just got more interesting.
Lehigh edged No. 1 Cornell 17-15 tonight, clearing a path for Penn State to become No. 1 in next week’s USA Today/NWCA rankings. The Nittany Lions, of course, must defeat Pitt at home Friday and Indiana on the road Sunday to secure the top spot.
Penn State last reached No. 1 in January 2008. The Nittany Lions didn’t hold the ranking long, losing the perch after going 3-2 at the NWCA National Duals.
Lehigh and Cornell split tonight’s bouts. The Mountain Hawks received two major decisions and key victories from Brandon Hatchett at 165 and Robert Hamlin at 184. Hamlin defeated State College graduate Steve Bosak 5-4 to give the Mountain Hawks a 13-12 lead with two bouts left. Hatchett upset Justin Kerber 3-2.
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Penn State and Lehigh split the 10 bouts when they wrestled on Nov. 14. Pins by Andrew Alton and David Taylor allowed the Nittany Lions to prevail.
Expect Cael Sanderson to downplay the significance of a No. 1 ranking should the Nittany Lions get there. Progress and preparing for March, not rankings, are Sanderson's objectives.
Still, if Penn State gets to No. 1 next week, it would be another sign of the program's rapid ascent under Sanderson. Not even the most optimistic Nittany Lion fans envisioned Sanderson needing less than two years to get Penn State to No. 1.