We interrupt our normally intense football coverage (ha!) to bring you a quick look at wrestling. The 2009-10 dual meet season starts tonight when the good guys from PSU travel to take on long time wrestling wrival Lehigh. For the record here is Penn State's "official" lineup:
#14 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
125 #8 Brad Pataky
133 Tyler Saltsman OR Bryan Pearsall
141 Colby Pisani OR Adam Lynch
149 #6 (@ 141) Frank Molinaro
157 #5 Cyler Sanderson
165 #9 Dan Vallimont
174 David Erwin OR Justin Ortega
184 J.R. Brown
197 Clay Steadman
285 #20 Cameron Wade
Quite a few "OR's" in there and I doubt we will have a lineup set in stone at all this season. Head coach Cael Sanderson has decided to redshirt pretty much all of his young talent in setting up for a title run starting next season (at least that's the plan). So with all the shiny new toys safely locked away for a year Penn State's lineup will be more of a hodgepodge. Fans will have to be patient as we transition into the Sanderson era, and it's going to be difficult because anticipation is at an all time high for this program.
Over 2,000 season tickets have been sold as Penn State prepares for the season-opening weekend. Last season, Penn State sold a respectable 1,058 season tickets.
So all those throngs of hungry fans will just have to wait until Sanderson gets his guys in the program but that doesn't mean this is a throw-away year by any means.
What we know
For Cyler Sanderson, Vallimont, and Erwin it's their last chance as all three will run out of eligibility at the end of the season. Sanderson seems to be Penn State's best chance at a national champion but if the wrestlers end up ranked where they are now we would be looking at three All-Americans.
The intense Sanderson stare
Vallimont has a tough road, his weight class is ridiculously stacked. Pataky just missed out last season and although Molinaro has moved up to 149, he's certified at 141 and I wouldn't rule out the chance that he wrestles himself back to that weight before the season ends. I will say this much about Frank after seeing him wrestle in the Intrasquad match last week, he's definitely hit the weight room in the offseason. Cameron Wade came on late in the season last year and hopefully with the tutelage of Sanderson he will at the least make it out of the Big Ten's and qualify for nationals.
What we don't know
Sanderson preaches an up tempo aggressive style of wrestling, how long will it take for the "old guys" or the guys that have been around Sunderland's system to adapt to it, or for that matter will they adjust to it? The holes in the lineup are obvious, 133, 141, 184, and 197 are going to be brutal at times this season but will we see improvement?
What to expect
Sanderson has the hand he was dealt, can he get the best out of them. The main thing that I'm looking for from this unit is steady improvement. This isn't going to be a national champion team but do they improve over the course of the season. If Sanderson can have this team peaking around the Big Ten championships in March, I'll consider it a very successful season. Penn State should have no less than four guys in the nationals with six a distinct possibility. Any more than that and I'll be shocked.