If you’ve been following Penn State wrestling long enough, you know what Cael Sanderson values in his team.
Scoring points, 100 percent effort and consistency.
Needless to say, the Nittany Lions did all of that on Sunday in a 46-0 shutout of Binghamton inside Rec Hall.
They also did it with a new face in the lineup.
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According to Sanderson, 133-pound starter Jered Cortez got hurt early in his match against Lehigh last Sunday inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
“He hasn’t been on the mat all week,” Sanderson said.
Welcome to the starting lineup, George Carpenter.
Sunday marked the first time Carpenter competed in a Penn State dual since joining the program three years ago. The Chapel Hill, N.C., native took it all in after his 17-2 technical fall over the Bearcats’ Ian Lupole.
“It’s pretty exciting,” the junior said. “I’m grateful for the coaches giving me the opportunity. As soon as it was done, I couldn’t really help but smile, seeing everybody, seeing all the fans.”
Carpenter gave up the first takedown of the match to Binghamton, but then it was as if a switch was turned on. He went on to score those 17 points unanswered. An escape into a takedown in the first period, a takedown and four near-fall points in the second and another takedown, four near-fall, stall point and a riding time point in the finale.
Carpenter’s performance included 3:29 in riding time. It also earned him the Ridge Riley Award for the best performance in a home dual meet.
“He looked great,” Sanderson said. “You can tell our fans, our crowd, they appreciate effort and hustle and that’s what George is. When the spotlight is on, we expect that he is going to be at his best and he was today.”
The Bearcats, which were wrestling their third match in three days, were clearly outgunned all day long. They had a total of three takedowns in the match. Their closest match came at 165 pounds with Vincent DePrez and the Nittany Lions’ Vincenzo Joseph.
DePrez picked up another one of those Binghamton takedowns in the second period and trailed 5-3 going into the final period. In the third, Joseph led 7-5 with 30 seconds left but things just unraveled. Joseph won the match 10-5.
Bearcats head coach Matt Dernlan, who was part of the Penn State program from 2005-11, knew this was what his team needed.
“You can’t prepare yourself for this until you put yourself in his environment,” he said. “This is all great teaching potential. We needed this feel. We needed this constant pressure and type of intensity. This is the only way we’re going to jump. You can’t jump until you feel what this is actually like. This is great.”
Including Carpenter’s technical fall, the Nittany Lions had eight other bonus-point victories. They had five major decisions and three pins in the Nittany Lions’ 14th shutout under Sanderson.
Nick Suriano started the match with a 12-2 win over Steve Bulzomi. Jimmy Gulibon earned a 12-3 major decision at 141 pounds.
Geno Morelli started a string of major decision victories at 174 pounds over Anthony Lombardo 22-9. Bo Nickal followed by dispatching No. 13 Steve Schneider with an 18-7 win — ending his streak of seven straight pin victories. Matt McCutcheon followed Nickal’s performance with a 9-1 win at 197 pounds.
Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf went pin-pin to close out the first half of the dual and Penn State led 25-0. Retherford took 2:39 to get his and Nolf’s came in at 3:48. Nick Nevills closed the match out with a pin of Connor Calkins in 3:57.
“The effort was good and we scored a lot of points today,” Sanderson said. “We’re heading into finals week and just before Christmas week. Sometimes, you can see the fire not there in a match like this but I think the guys did a good job. They showed up and wrestled well.”