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With two consecutive National Championships in wrestling and what seems to be a dominating team coming back next year, can Penn State Three-Peat?
- The top level competition will be better. Iowa is going to be much better next season than they were this season. They have some very good wrestlers coming off red shirts and a very strong recruiting class (better than PSU’s). Minnesota is young and is going to be better next season too…which is hard to do as they had 7 All-Americans this season. Ohio State had 8 or so freshmen starting this year and their future is very bright. Also there are a lot of great wrestlers coming off Olympic red shirts and who knows where they will end up. OkState and Cornell lose some good wrestlers so they may be a little down from this year. But from a competition standpoint, it’s not going to be easy
- Penn State’s line-up will be better: The PSU line-up next year will have some changes: Ruth is going up to 184 and Wright up to 197 (McIntosh will red shirt and bulk up to a true 197). I think that will go just fine for both of them though you can’t take it for granted. It will allow Matt Brown to jump in at 174. He would have probably finished 3rd or 4th at 174 this year, if he was in the starting lineup. I think he will be a National Champion at least once. Molinaro leaves as the 5th 4x All-American in PSU history but Andrew Alton, a pinning machine, comes in at 149. For the other weight classes: 133 will be between Martelotti and Gulibon (4x PA state champ), although I think Gulibon red shirts. 141 will be either Pearsall, Luke Frey, or Beitz. HWT will be Lawson, Gingrich, or Ruggear. I think our starter at all of those weights will be ranked in the Top 20 and will probably qualify for the NCAA championships. Penn State may qualify all 10 weight classes for nationals next year. It would be stretch for any of these guys to be All-Americans, although Gulibon, Frey, and Lawson certainly have lots of upside.
- Our “Super 7” will be very tough to match up with. PSU has #1 wrestlers in Taylor (165) and Ruth (184) and at least Top 5 wrestlers in Nico Megaludis (125), A Alton (149), Dylan Alton (157), Brown (174), and Wright (197). That’s 7 wrestlers who should finish in the Top 5 or better (likely better) at next year’s NCAAs. With that performance and the bonus points (see below), they should win going away. I think they’ll have more points than the 143 they had this year, but Iowa, Minn, and tOSU will also have more points (just not enough to catch PSU).
- Bonus! A big problem that the other schools have, outside of the lineup, is they do not score bonus points like PSU. Two examples: Taylor and Ruth scored 58 points between the two of them which would have gotten just the two of them 9th place overall in the team standings. Cornell’s Steve Bosak, who won at 184, gained 22 team points which is only one more than the 21 Quentin Wright, who was the runner-up at 184, tallied (with a fall and 2 major decisions). Cael coaches the guys not just to win but to win big. You get lots of bonus points that way. And it is a lot more fun to watch which is good for the sport.
Is Penn State wrestling on the cusp of a dynasty?
- Only time will tell...but you have to like where it is going. Why Penn State could be the next wrestling dynasty…
- Coaching staff and approach: It all starts with Cael, Casey, Cody and the rest of the staff. The coaches demand excellence. But they also want the wrestlers to enjoy the sport and have fun with it. There is a family atmosphere with the team. The coaches coach not just to win but to win big – which is a much more exciting style of wrestling than grinding out a 1-2 point win (see the 157 lb NCAA final for a good example of that). The “go full tilt” approach is better for the wrestlers, the fans, and the sport. Also, I think Cael’s approach to weight management helps. It doesn’t appear you have PSU guys killing themselves a few days before the meet to make weight.
- Guys are improving in the room. When a true freshman like Nico Megaludis, who is ranked in the top 20 at the beginning of the season, becomes the national runner-up, people take notice. He improved throughout the year. Dylan Alton made tremendous strides the season (stamina, in the top position, match strategy) and completely dominated Welch (who was undefeated prior to the Big 10 finals) to reach #3 at NCAA. Many wrestlers are improving by leaps and bounds working with Cael and his staff. A few more years like this and he will be a legend in coaching just like the legend he is as a wrestler.
- Recruiting. ~43% of this year’s All Americans went to high school in PA, OH, NJ, and NY. You have a legend for a head coach, a great staff, a great program, you can go to college close to home, and you can have your family and friends watch all you home matches! What’s not to like about that? The list of HS guys who are expressing interest in PSU bodes very well for the upcoming years. Come to Penn State…and be a national champion.
- We are Penn State! Penn State athletics and boosters can provide the program support that many smaller schools simply cannot. Even among the wrestling powers (Iowa, Minnesota), PSU’s program support doesn’t lag far behind. And Penn State is a very solid academic institution which will help to recruit the types of student athletes that can bring glory to old State.
Enjoy the ride!
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