Winning isn’t enough for the Penn State wrestling team.
It wants to dominate.
“Everybody likes to go out and win,” said graduate transfer Corey Keener, who wrestles at 133 pounds. “But I think it’s competing our hardest and at our best and really going out there to dominate our opponents. Not necessarily just to get the win, but to make a point that we are going to go out and score points and wrestle hard — and make guys want to not wrestle us anymore.”
The Nittany Lions opened their season a week ago and are 2-0 after a 45-3 win over Army West Point and a 36-6 victory against Bucknell. But they haven’t patted themselves on the back after a solid start. As the No. 1 team in the country, and the favorite to repeat as national champions, Penn State isn’t satisfied.
Truthfully, teammates said earlier in the week, they could’ve done better that first week. And that’s what they’re focusing on — their weaknesses, not their strengths — as they head into another dual meet, at 7 p.m. Friday against Binghamton, and a tournament Sunday at the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia’s famed Palestra.
“It was our opening weekend,” coach Cael Sanderson said. “If we wrestled perfectly, there would be something wrong. We are going to improve as we go along. We don’t expect our guys to be at their best right now. We expect their best effort, and we will go from there.”
Penn State certainly has a realistic shot at complete dominance. Binghamton has just one ranked wrestler, No. 14 Steve Schneider at 184. And Schneider had twice as many losses last season (10) as Penn State opponent Bo Nickal has had in his college career (5).
Plus, the Nittany Lions blanked Binghamton 46-0 last season.
“I’m just really looking forward to that match,” heavyweight Nick Nevills added. “I had two matches this past weekend; I was a little disappointed in the seven-point win. The match kind of got away from me a little bit; I kind of lost track of what was going on.
“I’d like to correct that and get out there and keep scoring points.”
If Penn State is looking for momentum, it should get another heavy dose Sunday. The Nittany Lions are the defending tourney champs of the Keystone Classic, and they’ll face a 12-team field that boasts only one other ranked team — No. 23 Rider.
That doesn’t mean the wrestling team is looking past its opponents. But it does mean the Lions remain confident — not just about winning, but about dominating.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” Sanderson said.
Added Keener: “There’s always room for improvement.”
No. 1 Penn State (2-0) at Binghamton (0-0)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Events Center, Vestal, N.Y.
Radio: WRSC 1390
125: Devin Schnupp (0-2)
Joe Nelson (0-0)
133: No. 15 Corey Keener (2-0)
Jacob Nicholson (0-0)
141: Jered Cortez (2-0)
Joe Russ (0-0)
149: No. 1 Zain Retherford (2-0)
Frankie Garcia (0-0)
157: No. 1 Jason Nolf (2-0)
Tristan Rifanburg (0-0)
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (2-0)
Vincent DePrez (0-0)
174: No. 2 Mark Hall (2-0)
Anthony Lombardo (0-0)
184: No. 1 Bo Nickal (2-0)
No. 14 Steve Schneider (0-0)
197: No. 4 Matt McCutcheon (0-0)
OR Anthony Cassar (1-1)
Mark Tracy (0-0)
HWT: No. 3 Nick Nevills (2-0)
Connor Calkins (0-0)