After a week off for Thanksgiving, action heats up for Penn State wrestling this week with two in-state weekend duals.
With head coach Cael Sanderson out of town on Tuesday, assistant Cody Sanderson answered questions from the media, including on what the Nittany Lions’ lineup might look like at its contested weight classes this weekend.
Despite sustaining an apparent injury to his left leg while wrestling teammate Jarod Verkleeren in the semifinals of the Keystone Classic on Nov. 18 and medically forfeiting his next match, redshirt freshman Brady Berge should see time this weekend, Cody Sanderson said.
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“He’s been on the mat, the end of last week and yesterday, and there’s a good chance he’ll be in one or both matches this weekend,” he said.
It was fellow redshirt freshman Verkleeren, who got the nod at 149 pounds in Penn State’s first dual meet of the season, against Kent State. Verkleeren left an impression when he countered a body lock into a lock of his own and threw his opponent to his back for a pin.
When the two squared off at the Keystone Classic, Berge, right knee also taped, came up with the narrow 3-2 victory. Cael Sanderson said ahead of the Classic that that bout could serve as the first wrestle-off between the two in deciding the 149-pound starter.
As for heavyweight, Cody Sanderson gave a more definitive answer.
“This is always kind of game-day decision, right before we go out there, but right now I’d say it’s looking like Anthony (Cassar) will have both matches,” he said.
Cassar beat two-time All-American teammate Nick Nevills 7-2 at the Keystone Classic in the pair’s first public matchup since Cassar’s ascent to heavyweight. The win earned Cassar a No. 2 ranking from FloWrestling, No. 4 from Trackwrestling and No. 5 from InterMat.
Cody Sanderson said to expect sophomore Devin Schnupp at 125 pounds; he improved his record to 2-3 on the season.
“He showed us some good things out there at the Keystone Classic, and I’m really excited for him,” he said. “I think this Friday night I’d like to see him get out there and continue to score points. He’s already getting out there and scoring and finishing far more than he was last season and we’re ready for him to start turning those into wins down.”
Will Gavin Teasdale return to the Nittany Lions?
News broke last week that highly touted freshman and four-time Pennsylvania state champ Gavin Teasdale had left Penn State and was no longer on the team.
In a tweet, the Jefferson-Morgan product said he had left the university for the fall semester for health issues, but would be “returning at full capacity” in January.
Cody Sanderson declined to speak much more on the matter, but did say they expect Teasdale to return.
“We’re expecting him to come back and we’re looking forward to it,” he said. “At this point we’re expecting him, and we’ll welcome him when he’s here.”
Will Bravo-Young get his first ranked test?
One of the most highly anticipated matches of this coming dual weekend is the possible matchup between Penn State’s true freshman Roman-Bravo Young and Lehigh’s two-time All-American and seventh-place finisher from last season, Scott Parker, at 133 pounds.
However, the senior has yet to wrestle this season.
Cody Sanderson said Tuesday they’ve heard mixed messages about whether Parker will be wrestling Sunday, and can’t say for sure what the case might be.
“I hope that match happens, but if it doesn’t, Roman will get plenty of more chances to wrestle ranked wrestlers as we get going,” he said.
Bravo-Young, who is 4-0 on the season, is one of the few unranked Nittany Lion starters, as he has yet to wrestle against ranked competition. He said Tuesday that he looks forward to that opportunity, to get a better idea of how his wrestling compares to the competition.
“I haven’t wrestled a ranked guy yet, and I’m not sure when that will be. Hopefully it’s Sunday, if not, I’ll just keep learning and keep dominating like I’m doing,” he said.
If Parker does not wrestle Sunday, Bravo-Young’s next opportunity for ranked competition will be the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2, where he could face Oklahoma State freshman Daton Fix.
Will Olympic trials be held at Penn State?
In January, Pete Isais, director of National Events for USA Wrestling, said the Bryce Jordan Center was on the “short list” of venues to host the 2020 Olympic trials.
Isais said Cael Sanderson had approached USA Wrestling about six years ago about the possibility of hosting team trials at Penn State, and the organization has been working closely with the Penn State administration over the past two to three years to try to make that a possibility.
When asked for an update Tuesday, Cody Sanderson said they can’t say definitely one way or the other.
“There are a lot of challenges in getting things on campus at Penn State. It’s a busy campus, but it’s something that we’re hopeful for and our administration is working to help us out with,” he said.
No rest for some Penn State wrestlers
While some people were still enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, several Nittany Lions were competing in Lock Haven’s Mat-town Open on Sunday.
Penn State was led by redshirt freshman Joey Blumer, who went 2-1 to finish as runner-up at 149 pounds to Maryland’s Hunter Baxter. Sophomore Brian Friery (157) and sophomore Scott Obendorfer (141) both finished in fourth place at their respective weights, with Obendorfer scoring a major decision.
Sophomore Mason Lindenmuth picked up a pin for his lone victory at 141, while sophomore Alex Nicholas (heavyweight) and freshman Jon Consorti (125) also wrestled.