Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wrestling Wreport

How’s that for clever word play, huh? Bet that title screws up Google. Gross spelling errors aside, it’s time to take a look at the 2007 version of the Nittany Lion Wrestling team. With superb recruiting classes the last couple seasons, and a fairly young team returning a lot of talent, expectations were high before the start of the season. Unfortunately, the team has had lukewarm results. At the beginning of the season the lineup contained quite a few holes as the coaches chose to redshirt some of their better freshmen. As the season wore on though, it was evident that the future was now and most of the highly-touted recruits are in the lineup. Throw in the confusing transfer of Nathan Galloway and Penn State has 4 out of 5 wrestlers in the middle of the lineup with freshmen eligibility.

At 157 freshmen Bubba Jenkins had a bit of a bumpy road getting pinned against #10 Matt Hill of Edinboro and giving up a technical fall to #6 Craig Henning of Wisconsin, both dual meets ending up in loses due to bonus points. But this weekend was a good one for Bubba as he came within a takedown of beating #1 Mike Poeta of Illinois. With 45 seconds left in the third period the score was 3 –2; Jenkins' late shot was turned into a score for Poeta, but it was a valiant effort nonetheless. It appears that Bubba is getting better with experience.

Bubba Jenkins is becoming a crowd favorite because of his energy – that and everyone likes to yell “git er dun, Bubba!”

Freshmen 149 pounder Dan Vallimont has been getting better as the season goes on and had an even bigger weekend. On Friday Vallimont beat #16 Lance Palmer of Ohio State 4-2. Following that performance he did the Nittany Lions one better and beat #10 Troy Tirapelle of Illinois. Vallimont is 14-7 in his first year as a starter.

Dave Rella at 165 lost both his bouts this weekend but they were against the #13 and #16 ranked wrestlers and both were close. It also appears that the coaches have settled on Mike Ward who lost both matches this weekend but they were again to ranked wrestlers. Ward lost to the #3 Mike Pucillo of Ohio State by the slim margin of 3-1.

The real question that came out of this weekend is what the heck is going on with lightweight Mark McKnight? He looked unstoppable early in the season but his last three matches have been less then stellar. After climbing to #2 before the Minnesota dual, he went out and got pinned by Freshmen Jayson Ness the #5 ranked wrestler. He struggled to a 10-8 decision against Will Livingston of Ohio State and lost to #8 Gabe Flores of Illinois 6-1. In the Flores match he looked completely gassed at the end of the third period.

The rest of the lineup doesn’t have too many shockers. Aaron Anspach has been impressive running his record to 12-2 and even kept it close with brick shithouse Cole Konrad of Minnesota 5-1. Jake Strayer lost a tough match to Illinois’ Jimmy Kennedy Sunday, but he has been solid for most of the season. Bryan Heller is serviceable at 141, won’t embarrass you, and will even chip in a decent win every now and then. That leaves James Yonushonis and Phil Davis – the nasty left-right combo of the Nits lineup. Davis is plugging along using his lankiness to twist unsuspecting prey into pretzel shaped road kill, often putting opponents to bed with his mastery of the cradle.

Davis is shown here breaking some guys arm off and shoving it in unflattering places

Yonushonis isn’t flashy, but he is one of the hardest workers and usually gets the job done. James beat the 2nd ranked wrestler in the NWCA All-Star Classic earlier in the year and has only three losses. Davis has just the single defeat to fellow All-American Chris Weidman of Hofstra.

Here is the current lineup of the Nittany Lion Wrestling team:
125: #5 Mark McKnight (17-3)
: #8 Jake Strayer (17-4)
: Bryan Heller (14-7)
149: Dan Vallimont (14-7)
: Bubba Jenkins (16-7)
: Dave Rella (18-8)
: #7 James Yonushonis (24-3)
: Mike Ward (14-11)
197: #3 Phil Davis (18-1)
: #12 Aaron Anspach (12-2)

This weekend is huge with Northwestern and hated Iowa coming to Rec Hall to face the Lions. The Wildcats are ranked 9th while the Hawkeyes are ranked 5th.


Black Shoe Diaries said...

Awesome coverage, dude. I wish I knew something about wrestling so I could cover the team like that. My interest in wrestling pretty much ended when Brett "The Hitman" Hart lost the Intercontinental Championship. You're totally getting a link.

Galen said...

Thank you BSD, I try. Actually, it's hard to find people to discuss Wraslin' with, it's a fringe sport but I love it.