Monday, March 19, 2007

Wrestling Wreport

The Penn State Wrestling team concluded their season Saturday night when #2 Aaron Anspach lost to #1 Cole Konrad of Minnesota by fall in the last match of the national finals. Just like the Big Ten championship two weeks ago, the nationals ended in disappointment. Phil Davis ranked fourth, finished fifth, well below anyone's expectations considering he made it to the finals last year as a sophomore. The biggest surprise for the Nittany Lions was the drop out of returning All-American James Yonushonis who won his first bout then lost two straight to end his career. Not only did he lose two straight but one was to an unranked wrestler. This comes as a shock; James has always been an overachiever, a hard worker, and he's always prepared.

The Specifics

Penn State finishes a disappointing 11th place after a 7-0 start and a fourth place rank after day one. Like most thought, Minnesota won the national title by a comfortable margin over Iowa State. Other Big Ten teams that finished ahead of PSU were Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio State – all of which Penn State beat in dual meets this year. Northwestern had an amazing run and basically came out of nowhere to finish fourth – congrats to the Wildcats.

The Good

It wasn't all bad news this weekend; Penn State does finish with three All-Americans that will all be returning next season if Anspach gets his extra year of eligibility for medical hardship which most believe he will. Jake Strayer who was unranked finished strong pinning Andrae Hernandez of Indiana to take 7th place and becomes an All-American after just missing out last season.

All-American Jake Strayer

Like Jake did last year Dan Vallimont was one win away from becoming a freshman All-American but just fell short. While I'm sure it's very disappointing for Vallimont it points to how close he is to the elite level. Despite getting pinned by Knorad, Anspach really wrestled strong in all the rest of his matches. He set the pace and was on the offensive most of the time, he was, without a doubt, Penn State's best wrestler in the tournament. Assuming Anspach gets his extra year; Penn State will only lose Brain Heller and James Yonushonis next season and should be very tough. Stud David Erwin will most likely replace Yonushonis in the lineup after taking a redshirt year this season. Erwin has a lot of potential and could easily replace Yonushonis without Penn State missing a beat. While Yonushonis' leadership will be missed he isn't as gifted a wrestler as Erwin is, it just remains to be seen if David can work as hard as Yonushonis did and get the most out of his potential.

Conclusion

Penn State peaked too early in the season and really didn't wrestle well come tournament time. There were a lot of heavy expectations for a lot of the wrestlers on this team and few satisfied those expectations. Things won't get any easier next season as this team will return a lot of talent and expectations will be that much higher. Penn State has also had some of the best recruiting classes the past couple seasons and fans will be anticipating a rise to the top of the Big Ten if not at the national level. One thing is for sure, coach Sunderland has his work cut out for him the next couple years.

3 comments:

Elihu said...

Am I the only one who didn't think Anspach was really pinned? The camera angle didn't really show his shoulder blades, but his left shoulder was definitely not down.

Galen said...

Oh, he was NOT pinned, but I don't think it matters he probably would have been pinned eventually, there was a lot of time left. I was watching the same camera angle and his shoulder was not down. But like I said, it wouldn't have made a difference.

Anonymous said...

My dad saw the same thing and said, "Hmm, must have changed the rules of what a pin is." That being said, maybe that ref had an urgent appointment he had to make.