Penn State Wrestling

Cael Sanderson, Penn State staff sticking behind Jimmy Gulibon despite struggles

Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon has struggled since making the move to 141 pounds a year ago. The Nittany Lion senior is 7-5 this season and 21-16 overall at the weight.
Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon has struggled since making the move to 141 pounds a year ago. The Nittany Lion senior is 7-5 this season and 21-16 overall at the weight. Centre Daily Times, file

Will the real Jimmy Gulibon please stand up?

The Penn State senior has struggled since making the move up to 141 pounds last year.

His struggles continued last weekend in the Nittany Lions’ wins over Minnesota and Nebraska.

“He had a good win on Friday against a tough kid,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said Tuesday during the team’s media availability. “He just fell behind so quick on Sunday and just wasn’t able to come back.”

As Sanderson said, the weekend trip began well for Gulibon on Friday. He showed off the skills that enabled him to become an All-American at 133 pounds in his sophomore campaign. Gulibon took on No. 9 Tommy Thorn and gave up the first takedown of the match.

However, he didn’t stay behind for long. An escape and a takedown gave him a 3-2 lead to end the first period. In the second, Thorn built up 1:41 in riding time until Gulibon escaped for a 4-2 lead. Gulibon was on top in the final period and got Thorn’s riding time down to 1:08 before Thorn escaped and pulled within one. With 46 seconds remaining in the match, Gulibon hit a low single-leg takedown, rode Thorn out and reduced the riding time for the 6-3 win.

On Sunday, it looked like a totally different Gulibon on the mat. He looked like a deer in headlights.

Nebraska’s Colton McCrystal, who was No. 13, came out and rattled off three first-period takedowns.

McCrystal’s performance caught Sanderson’s eye.

“The kid came out aggressively and scored a bunch of points,” Sanderson said. “We got to give him credit for a great job there. He’s (Gulibon) just got to be ready. It didn’t look like he was quite ready for that.”

McCrystal continued his dominance in the second period. He put Gulibon on his back and picked up four near-fall points and led 10-3 after two periods. Gulibon didn’t stop wrestling, though. After giving up an escape to McCrystal, Gulibon recorded his lone takedown in the match in the final period.

“I think he won the third period,” Sanderson said. “He kept battling. He’s got to learn from it and make that adjustment.”

Gulibon is 7-5 this season and 21-16 overall since his move to 141 pounds last year. Even with the struggles though, Sanderson continues to offer the same message to his senior — belief.

“We just try to stay positive,” Sanderson said. “We see the potential in him. We believe he can win. We believe he can beat anybody in the country. That’s the story we are going to stick to and support him.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he has an incredible national tournament or an incredible Big Ten tournament. He’s just going to keep working hard and competing. Big Ten is tough at his weight class.”

Nate Cobler: 814-231-4609, @ncoblercdt

USA Today/NWCA Top 25 Poll

Team

Rcrd

Pts.

Conf.

Pvs.

1. Oklahoma State

5-0

395

Big 12

1

2. Penn State

6-0

388

Big Ten

2

3. Iowa

7-0

368

Big Ten

3

4. Ohio State

6-0

353

Big Ten

4

5. Virginia Tech

7-1

329

ACC

6

6. Nebraska

7-1

317

Big Ten

7

7. Cornell

4-1

298

EIWA

8

8. Lehigh

5-1

283

EIWA

9

9. Missouri

5-2

268

MAC

5

10. N.C. State

4-1

258

ACC

10

11. Rutgers

7-1

243

Big Ten

11

12. Illinois

2-1

218

Big Ten

12

13. C. Michigan

2-0

189

MAC

14

14. Minnesota

3-2

185

Big Ten

13

15. Oklahoma

2-3

174

Big 12

18

16. Michigan

3-2

172

Big Ten

15

17. Stanford

3-1

154

Pac-12

16

18. Wisconsin

3-1

141

Big Ten

17

19. Arizona St.

3-1

113

Pac-12

19

20. S. Dakota St.

6-2

99

Big 12

20

21. App. State

9-2

77

SoCon

21

22. N. Iowa

4-2

69

MAC

22

23. Pittsburgh

4-2

42

ACC

23

24. Virginia

5-2

36

ACC

24

25. Drexel

7-2

17

EIWA

25

Others receiving votes: Chattanooga 4, North Dakota State 3, Duke 2, Navy 2, Edinboro 1, North Carolina 1, Rider 1

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