What was your dream growing up?
For Geno Morelli, his dream was to wear a Penn State singlet and compete on the mat for the Nittany Lions.
However, things didn’t go as planned.
Morelli began his career at the University of Pittsburgh. It was a choice he made but later regretted.
“Before I actually went to Pittsburgh, I wanted to come here,” Morelli said, “but I had a little financial help from Pitt and I didn’t know if I was going to get that here. I kind of made that decision for the wrong reasons and realized it.
“I was debating on transferring to Penn State since my freshman year at Pitt but never really pulled the trigger. I had a couple of family events happen that I wanted to get a little closer to home and my family.”
The DuBois native transferred to Penn State last season and redshirted before becoming eligible this season.
During his high school career, Morelli finished with a 126 wins, which is fourth on the Beavers’ all-time list. He sits behind his older brother, Mario (127), Zach Lundgren (134) and Tom Sleigh (140). Morelli is also 1 of 3 DuBois wrestlers to earn two state medals.
He was a part of a Pittsburgh team that wrestled against the Nittany Lions in 2013 at the Bryce Jordan Center. In that match, Penn State set an NCAA attendance record of 15,996. Morelli’s opponent for the match was David Taylor, who pinned Morelli in 3:09. While wrestling for the Panthers, Morelli tallied 35 wins at 165 pounds.
On Sunday when Penn State tangles with Wisconsin inside the BJC, Morelli may get a shot at redemption, except this time he’ll be wearing a Nittany Lion singlet.
“If I end up getting put in,” he said, “I feel I like I’ll get to show everyone what I can do. I’m excited and it’ll be cool if I get in because it will be the first time wrestling in a dual for Penn State.”
Morelli’s performance in the Nittany Lion Open stood out to coach Cael Sanderson. Morelli beat Garett Hammond in the semifinals 12-7 and then beat Nittany Lion starter Shakur Rasheed 3-2 in the finals to win the 165-pound title.
“Geno had a good tournament,” Sanderson said. “He is a very good athlete. He’s very fast and has a great mat sense. He knows how to win and is experienced. He is a big, strong kid for his weight class.”
If Morelli does go for Penn State, it won’t be easy. He will square off with the Badgers’ Isaac Jordan, who is ranked No. 2 in the country at 165.
Jordan is coming off a 4-3 win in Wisconsin’s 25-9 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Ryan Lubeck (149), and Ryan Christensen (184) were the only other winners for the Badgers (1-1).
There also are a few question marks in the Nittany Lions’ lineup with Jimmy Gulibon and Matt McCutcheon both recovering from injuries suffered in the Nittany Lion Open.
Sanderson said he may use either Kade Moss or Gary Dinmore in place of Gulibon. While at 184, either Devon Van Cura or Brian Brill will fill in if McCutcheon can’t go. Also, there is a void at heavyweight with Jan Johnson recovering from arthriscopic surgery on his knee.
But with all the uncertainties, Sanderson knows this is a big match for his squad.
“Wisconsin has a good team,” he said. “They are solid all the way up and down their lineup. It’s a dual meet we got to go out there and get the job down. These matches have a little more emphasis because it does obviously affect our seeding going into Big Tens, which your Big Ten results affect your nationals seeding.”
No. 15 Wisconsin (1-1) at No. 1 Penn State (4-0)
When: 1 p.m., Sunday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
Radio: WRSC 1390
125: Johnny Jimenez (8-5)
No. 4 Nico Megaludis (8-1)
133: No. 4 Ryan Taylor (0-1)
OR Jens Lantz (4-3)
No. 8 Jordan Conaway (7-1)
141: Luke Rowh (6-7)
OR Gabriel Grahek (2-2)
No. 6 Jimmy Gulibon (5-2)
OR Kade Moss (8-2)
149: Ryan Lubeck (9-7)
No. 1 Zain Retherford (8-0)
157: T.J. Ruschell (7-7)
No. 3 Jason Nolf (9-0)
165: No. 2 Isaac Jordan (12-0)
No. 19 Shakur Rasheed (6-3)
OR Geno Morelli (11-1)
174: No. 16 Rickey Robertson (9-5)
No. 5 Bo Nickal (9-0)
184: Ryan Christensen (10-7)
No. 13 Matt McCutcheon (6-1)
OR Devon Van Cura (6-3)
OR Brian Brill (8-2)
197: Eric Peissig (2-3)
No. 1 Morgan McIntosh (7-0)
Hwt: Brock Horwath (8-4)