Penn State Wrestling

Sanderson: Bryce Jordan Center dual gives everyone a chance to watch Nittany Lions

Penn State host Lehigh on Sunday in the lone Bryce Jordan Center dual of the Nittany Lions’ season.
Penn State host Lehigh on Sunday in the lone Bryce Jordan Center dual of the Nittany Lions’ season. Centre Daily Times, file

The Penn State wrestling team’s annual Bryce Jordan Center dual will take place on Sunday with Lehigh.

It is the only one of the year compared to the two the Nittany Lions had last season.

They wrestled in front of a combined 28,845 fans against Ohio State and Wisconsin — just over four times the amount that can fit inside Rec Hall. Obviously, Penn State’s tickets are a hot commodity and coach Cael Sanderson knows that.

“It’s just so difficult to get a ticket into Rec Hall,” Sanderson said on Tuesday. “There is such a long waiting list for season tickets and there’s not a lot of turnover to buy season tickets. The idea was just move to a large arena and give everybody a chance to watch the team — once or even twice like we did last year — a season that was the whole point.”

The point was taken really well by fans.

In the four BJC duals the Nittany Lions have hosted, all were sold out but one — last season against the Badgers.

“Its been fun,” Sanderson said. “We have the three largest duals in the history of college wrestling outside of the two football stadium dual meets.”

The most recent of those football stadium games had Rutgers hosting Princeton on Nov. 19 during the afternoon before the Scarlet Knights’ football game with Penn State. The attendance for that match was 16,178. Some would say there were more watching the wrestling match than the football game that night.

It is still well behind Iowa’s record-setting mark of 42,287 last season when the Hawkeyes hosted Oklahoma State inside Kinnick Stadium.

Sanderson said the chances of the Nittany Lions setting up shop inside Beaver Stadium for a match isn’t out of the possibility.

“We’ve kind of talked about it not too seriously,” Sanderson said. “We’ve been talking about that since we got here. It’s such an amazing atmosphere and to be able to throw a mat down there … we haven’t really pursued it. It’s not really a goal.

“It’s always about making progress, doing the better job and increasing in all areas of the program. If that means we head into an outside dual at some point, I certainly wouldn’t say that’s off the table. But we don’t have a plan. There are just a lot of factors you have to consider being outside.”

Watching his weight no more

Last season, Shakur Rasheed struggled to keep his weight down at 165 pounds.

When he wrestled, it almost seemed as if he ran out of gas too quickly. If he didn’t have the match in hand in the first or second periods, he was doomed to lose.

“Don’t even get me started on that,” Rasheed said with a laugh about last season and the weight cut. “I’m still losing weight but I’m losing nothing close to last year. When I was doing (1)65, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m eating real healthy and think I’ll come in the next day four pounds over and I’m 15.’ It was the worst year I’ve ever experienced but it was a learning experience.”

Fast forward to this season.

The sophomore hasn’t cracked the starting lineup yet at 174 pounds. However, his dominant run in the Keystone Classic last weekend might give Sanderson something to think about.

He used two pins and a technical fall en route to the title — he beat teammate and starter Geno Morelli in a second tie-breaker 2-1. It was a match that lasted 11 minutes, something Rasheed probably never would have been able to endure last year.

“Wrestling is a lot more fun,” Rasheed said. “I’m actually learning so many things the coaches probably have shown me 100 times last year but I just didn’t absorb it because I was focused on losing weight.”

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt