Penn State's roller coaster season continued last weekend with an 8th place finish at the 2009 National Duals. The National Duals is an invitational team tournament held every year and Penn State was one of 16 teams invited to participate. Of the 16 teams, 14 were nationally ranked with the top 6 in attendance. While the 8th place finish is good for the Nittany Lions, considering they were unseeded, but they could have done better.
Penn State started the tournament with a bang beating No. 5 Missouri 20-19. Both teams won 5 bouts but the difference was bonus points, the Nittany Lions held a slim 5-4 advantage. Bubba Jenkins and Jake Strayer made the difference. Jenkins pinned Brandon Weist with his patent cement mixer in the first period at 149 and Strayer posted a technical fall at 133.
Yes, Bubba Jenkins will shove your head up your ass
Head coach Troy Sunderland made a brilliant move at 174 shifting Quentin Wright up a weight to face unranked Dorian Henderson instead of facing #6 ranked Raymond Jordan in his normal spot at 174. The move allowed Penn State to get another win at 184 instead of two losses at both weights. Also worth mentioning was the effort freshman Cameron Wade put in at Heavyweight. Facing #2 ranked Mark Ellis, Wade had to give up a major or less and he did just that with a hard-fought 4-2 loss.
The Nittany Lions then lost a tough 20-16 match with No. 4 Nebraska. The match went as expected with no upsets at any weight. The match actually came down to Heavyweight where PSU's Cameron Wade lost a close 4-2 decision to #17 Tucker Lane. With the match at a tight 17-16 score, had Wade won Penn State would have pulled off another upset. The score of the Heavyweight match was 2-2 with 45 seconds to go when Wade gave up the clinching takedown. It was a good effort against a team with more ranked wrestlers.
Penn State then barely got by #17 Michigan 21-18. Brad Pataky posted a huge upset at 125 beating #11 Mike Watts of Michigan. Sunderland once again shuffled his lineup at 174-184 moving Wright up a weight instead of facing #1 Steve Luke who pinned Penn State's Micah Bollinger. This time around though, it was a bit more of a gamble because waiting at 184 was #11 ranked Anthony Biondo. Quentin, once again, got things done beating Biondo in sudden victory overtime. It was an impressive win, Wright was not only wrestling a bigger man but he was one of the nation's best 184 pounders.
Quentin Wright does not fear your 10-pound advantage
At Heavyweight with the score tied at 18, Stefan Tighe got a close 2-1 victory without a takedown. The deciding point was a penalty point in the first period for a slap in the back of the head by Michigan's Edwin Phillips. Not exactly the way you want to win a bout and a dual meet but we'll take it.
The Nittany Lions then lost two in a row to #11 Minnesota and #16 Boise State, a mild upset. Against Minnesota both Brad Pataky and Frank Molinaro got pinned which offset a great upset victory by 165 pounder Mark Friend who beat #18 Scott Glasser of Minnesota. In the Boise match Strayer redeemed himself pinning #18 Brian Owen but Frank Molinaro had a disappointing loss to unranked Cory Fish and, even more disappointing, Dan Vallimont could not make weight and Penn State was forced to give up a forfeit at 157. The two losses placed PSU at 8th for the tournament but it could have been better or worse, depending upon how you look at it.
The Nittany Lions now go on the road Jan 23rd and 24th to take on #20 Indiana and Purdue. At 7-6 with the start of the Big Ten dual meet season, and ranked 14th, Penn State needs two victories before coming home for a rematch with Minnesota on Jan. 30th.Note: The Friday, Jan. 23 match with Indiana can be seen on the Big Ten Network at 7pm.