Cael Sanderson talks injuries ahead of the Ohio State dual
Another week of Penn State wrestling, another round of evasive injury reports.
Head coach Cael Sanderson again kept the Nittany Lions’ weekly injury reports close to the vest Tuesday, initially telling reporters the three wrestlers in question were “fine,” before elaborating a bit more on several follow-ups.
The statuses of those three Penn State wrestlers — Shakur Rasheed (184 pounds), Brady Berge (149) and Roman Bravo-Young (133) — range between questionable and probable for Friday’s match against No. 6 Ohio State. Sanderson labeled Rasheed, a returning All-American who competed Friday with a leg brace, as “good to go.” And he said Berge, who hasn’t wrestled the last two weekends, was “ready to go.”
As for Bravo-Young — who sported a large brace on his right knee, not unlike Rasheed last Friday — Sanderson said, “Same thing. We’re expecting him to wrestle this week, yeah.”
Fans couldn’t be blamed for questioning the accuracy of those reports.
Last week, Sanderson surprised fans and reporters alike when he declared that he was “optimistic” about Bravo-Young and that “nothing’s wrong with (Berge) at all.” Of course, then neither wrestler competed against No. 4 Michigan.
Berge’s status remains a bit of a mystery. Sanderson hasn’t acknowledged any injury, and Berge hasn’t been seen with a brace — but he still hasn’t competed since Jan. 20. There’s been some message-board speculation about weight issues, but Sanderson deflected that question Tuesday afternoon.
Still, Berge was seen in the wrestling room by reporters. And, as Sanderson pointed out, everyone could see him practicing there on the mat.
“It’s just a gameday decision last week,” Sanderson said, referring to Berge’s Friday absence. “But, yeah, you’re seeing through the window there he’s wrestling hard. He’s ready to go.”
Sanderson was right about Rasheed last week, although the All-American clearly wasn’t himself. He earned a 5-3 decision over Jelani Embree, an opponent Rasheed is capable of beating by a larger margin when fully healthy.
“His injury wasn’t as much of an issue,” Sanderson said. “Just hadn’t wrestled in a while and exhausted a little too much energy getting-the-first-takedown kind of a thing.”
Bravo-Young remains the biggest question mark of all. And, of course, there was the least information about him.
The true freshman was seen on an exercise bike Tuesday with the bulky knee brace, which he picked up after suffering an apparent knee injury Jan. 25 against Purdue. Sanderson acknowledged he never really tested RBY to see if he was OK to go last Friday; he didn’t believe the situation called for it.
“We weren’t going to push anything, so there wasn’t a reason to get him to wrestle,” the head coach said. “He was coming off a week prior where he injured himself, so the more time the better for him.”
The only definitive answer appeared to come when the topic of RBY’s replacement arose. Redshirt junior Scott Stossel took over for him last week, and Sanderson offered Stossel a vote of confidence Tuesday.
Stossel, who’s 4-5 on the season, faced No. 1 Stevan Micic and put forth a valiant effort before losing by way of technical fall.
“If Roman were to miss a match or the remainder of the season, Stossel is a guy that’s going to go out there and fight hard,” he said.
Added teammate and 141-pound wrestler Nick Lee: “He’s a really happy guy. He works hard every day. ... I couldn’t be happier with it.”
Penn State will hope to travel a healthy lineup to Columbus, Ohio, at 8:40 p.m. Friday for a top-10 match against No. 6 Ohio State. It’ll then have a full week before its next dual, on Feb. 15.