Normally on a weekend like this with matchups against two of the best wrestling teams in the country I would be quite stoked but not so for the duals against #6 Ohio State (tonight at 7) and #1 and defending national champ Iowa (Sunday @ 2). Penn State is without several starters and in wrestling (a sport you have 9.9 scholarships for 10 positions) if your starter goes down the cupboard is VERY bare. Throw in the fact that Penn State is a black hole at 197 and Heavyweight and well, it's going to be a pretty bad weekend for the good guys.
There are interesting matchups that should make it worth the 30 minute trip to State College:
At 125, #13 Brad Pataky is coming off probably his best weekend of wrestling and gets to face #4 Charlie Falck of Iowa.
At 133, #9 Jake Strayer, who is also coming off a pretty good outing besting the returning national champ, has the daunting task of facing #1 AND #2 in #2 Reece Humphrey of OSU and #1 Daniel Dennis of Iowa.
Normally I would be more apprehensive about such matchups but I have a lot of confidence in both Pataky and Strayer right now, I think they are Penn State's best wrestlers at this point.
At 174, well get a chance to see what true freshman #16 Quentin Wright is made of as he gets the 4th-ranked wrestler in Jay Borschel of Iowa. Coincidentally he also gets erstwhile Penn State wrestler and current OSU 174 pounder Dave Rella, which should make for interesting off-the-mat conversation.
One more reason to hit the panic button is the status of Penn State's only undefeated wrestler, 149 pounder Bubba Jenkins who is still recovering from a sprained ankle and did not wrestle last weekend.
"(Saturday) I tried to move around and it didn't feel good at all," Jenkins said. "I think I'm a couple days behind where I thought I would be."
"We don't want to do that and that's why he didn't wrestle this weekend," Sunderland said. "Dual meets are one thing. But the end of the year focus is the Big Ten Tournament and national tournament. We have to keep the big picture in mind."
Emphasis mine – it's important that Jenkins is 100% because he would be facing #4 Lance Palmer of Ohio State and #1 Brent Metcalf of Iowa whom Jenkins lost to in the national finals last season, both of which are very physical wrestlers.
"I don't think I'm going to rush back, especially because I have Palmer and Metcalf," Jenkins said. "I have to be close to 100 percent to wrestle those guys. I don't know how close I will be Friday."
Even with Jenkins, Penn State has no chance against Iowa they are a machine. Nine of Iowa's ten starters are ranked, including two No. 1's. The aforementioned Brent Metcalf is No. 1 at 149 and Daniel Dennis is No. 1 at 133, Alex Tsirtsis is No. 2 at 141, Ryan Morningstar is No. 3 at 165, Phil Keddy is No. 3 at 184, Charlie Falck is No. 4 at 125, Jay Borschel is No. 4 at 174, Dan Erekson is No. 7 at HWT and Chad Beatty is No. 18 at 197. That's nine out of ten ranked with 7 of those in the top five. That's F-in impressive and even more so, they only have one senior in that group of ranked wrestlers. Yeah, Iowa is going to dominate Wrestling for the foreseeable future.