Any time you’re competing at the top of your sport, there are going to be perks.
Sometimes it’s new facilities. Other times it’s new equipment.
If you want to compete at the top, sometimes you have to make improvements so you can compete with the best.
“I think we are very fortunate to have one of the best facilities in the country,” Penn State wrestler Matt McCutcheon said. “Some people may argue because there are a few teams that have some very nice things as well.”
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The saying in the business world is “location, location, location.” That’s what Penn State coach Cael Sanderson feels separates the Nittany Lions’ facility at Rec Hall apart from others.
“We can’t complain at all,” he said. “Our kids are across the street in the dorms. Everything is all within a two-minute walk. I don’t know if anybody has that like we have so we are definitely blessed.”
The two-minute walk is maybe getting a little bit easier — especially on recovery days — for Nittany Lion wrestlers.
For several months, the main entrance into Penn State’s Lorenzo Wrestling Complex had been shut off. Wrestlers had to walk outside of the building, around a corner and enter through another set of doors usually proped open with a weight.
Construction was underway for a facility upgrade.
On Tuesday, an imaginary curtain was raised and behind it was a room with two jetted tubs — one hot and one cold. Also inside the room, a door led to a smaller locker room.
“It’s nice,” Sanderson said. “It’s separate so other sports can get in and out of it there when they want to. There is a big sauna in the back for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Clubs guys and coaches. There is a little locker room with an ice machine and shower.”
Sanderson expected the area to be ready for use on Thursday or Friday. It still had to have the final inspections to go through. Once it is ready, Bo Nickal plans to take complete advantage of the addition.
“I can’t wait to get in and use them,” he said. “I’ll probably be using them every week a couple times at least.”
Yes, having this new perk is nice for Sanderson’s wrestlers. Now on “recovery days,” guys can go in use the tubs to loosen up muscles in preparation for the upcoming week.
However, Sanderson knows that facilities aren’t everything.
“Facilities don’t win national championships. It’s your attitude,” he said. “As grateful as we are, kids don’t come here if we have a hot and cold tub. If they do, they probably aren’t the right kids.
“We want kids to come here because they see the way our guys compete and see our kids love to wrestle. It’s just a little thing that helps out and makes things nicer.”
Carpenter or Cortez: who will go at Reno?
Earlier this week, FloWrestling reported about who Penn State was taking to this weekend’s Reno Tournament of Champions — namely Jered Cortez.
But when asked about the status of Cortez, Sanderson didn’t sound promising.
“I don’t know if we are going to wrestle him at Reno,” he said. “I would say probably not, there is not really any reason to do that.”
Sanderson said after the Nittany Lions’ win over Binghamton that Cortez was injured early in his match against Lehigh. George Carpenter filled in nicely with a 17-2 technical fall over his Bearcat opponent.
Sanderson also said that Cortez hadn’t been on the mat at all the week leading up to the Binghamton match. It sounds like they are going to gradually bring him back into the swing of things.
“We are just going to ease him back into wrestling,” Sanderson said. “We just got to get him back to full speed going into the end of the season.”
Going through the ranks
This week’s Intermat individual rankings saw very little movement for Penn State’s wrestlers.
At the top: Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf remained No. 1 at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively.
Staying put: Nick Suriano (No. 4, 125), Jimmy Gulibon (No. 13, 141), Vincenzo Joseph (No. 9, 165), Nickal (No. 2, 184), McCutcheon (No. 13, 197)
Moving up: Cortez by one (No. 14, 133), Nevills by one (No. 7, 285)
Dropping down: Shakur Rasheed by one (No. 15, 174)