Posts filed under ‘Penn State wrestling’
All I could think of Saturday night as I watched Cael Sanderson answer questions about guiding Penn State to its first NCAA team wrestling title in 58 years was a Washington Post account about him winning an Olympic gold medal in 2004, which I read while reporting a profile of him for our Sept./Oct. 2009 issue
The story described how he seemed ill at ease on the medal stand in Athens, and it included this great line from Sanderson, who had fidgeted and toyed with his laurel wreath: “I don’t do props.”
He didn’t want to do props Saturday night, either; he let the wrestlers parade the trophy around. But Sanderson was shy about taking credit, too. (more…)
I felt terrible Thursday for the guys on the Penn State basketball team, but as someone who has closely followed the team this season, straddling the line between media member and unabashed fan, I didn’t actually feel that bad myself. To lose an NCAA first-round game that way—on a contested last-second shot against Temple—was brutal, but it’s also what makes the tournament great. All those shining moments and fantastic finishes inevitably leave one side feeling crushed.
On Thursday, Penn State was just one of a few teams to see its season end in the dying seconds. There will be many more over the next couple of weeks. Had the Nittany Lions gotten the ball last, we’d be talking about their chances Saturday to pull a bigger upset and make the Sweet 16. That’s how it goes.
Consolation? Well, sure, in a sense. As Talor Battle (pictured), moments after the final game of his remarkable career, summed up, “For the rest of my life, I’ll know that we didn’t just come out here and get beat. It took a heck of a shot to beat us.”
Penn State athletes are far from done in NCAA competition, though. The Big Ten champion wrestling team was in first place after the first day of the three-day NCAA championship tournament, placing seven wrestlers into the quarterfinals of the winner’s bracket. As of early Friday afternoon, the Lions had four wrestlers through to the semis, and looked to be locked in an extremely tight battle with Cornell in the team standings. It should come down to the wire on Saturday night.
And on Saturday morning, the sixth-seeded Lady Lion basketball team opens NCAA play with an 11 a.m. tipoff against Dayton at the Bryce Jordan Center. You can find more information here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Rohan Murphy ’06 is back in the news. The former Nittany Lion wrestler, double amputee, and paralympic athlete is spending more of his time sharing his story with kids, and if you’re wondering how effective he is at getting across his message of perseverance, wonder no more. As this story from a small-town Florida paper explains, “Murphy throws himself up in the air and continues to talk to his audience while walking on his hands, doing reps of clap push-ups and throwing some breakdancing moves in between.”
Not sure which part of that image is most impressive, but regardless, it’s easy to see how Murphy inspires.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Never a guy to shy away from attention or controversy, Joe Bastardi ’78 EMS is in the news lately more than usual. A former Penn State wrestler, prolific local columnist, proud body builder, global-warming skeptic, and respected long-term forecaster, Bastardi last week abruptly quit his post at AccuWeather, a move that made national news.
So this is well timed: Bastardi was featured a few days ago in a Q&A on the Vanity Fair website, in which he discusses his work, his muscles, weird 1970s holiday cartoons, and the reliability of Punxsutawney Phil. It’s highly recommended reading.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I had a chance to try my hand at photographing wrestling on Sunday—at one of the biggest duals ever in Rec Hall. Top-ranked Penn State lost to three-time national champion Iowa before a crowd of 6,686, and while I was disappointed in the outcome, I had a great time shooting the action.
I’ve tried photographing other sports before (including women’s volleyball back in December), but I had never shot wrestling. So, after securing a media pass for Sunday’s match, I started doing some homework. I Googled “how to photograph wrestling.” I called (more…)
It’s really no surprise to hear Cael Sanderson say, “I hate losing.” It’s almost superfluous. This is a guy who never lost a college match, who won an Olympic gold medal on his first try, who took a struggling Penn State wrestling team and, in Season Two, directed it to a 13-0 start, the best in the program’s history.
But it’s another thing to look at Sanderson’s face after a loss. Especially after a loss to Iowa. For all of his success, Sanderson has never been part of a team that’s beaten Iowa—not as an Iowa State athlete, not as an Iowa State coach, not as a Penn State coach.
So No. 1 Penn State’s 22-13 loss to Iowa on Sunday in front of a standing-room-only Rec Hall crowd was particularly disappointing. The loss, of course, would have been bad enough. But this (more…)
Most wrestling coaches win a dual meet 30-7, and they’re pretty happy. Especially if the victory comes against a traditional rival.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, however, wasn’t all that enthused after the Nittany Lions beat Pitt 30-7 last Friday night. He allowed that the match was better than last season’s match against the Panthers, a tie that he had labeled “painful.” But in describing the victory over Pitt, he used words like “flat” and phrases like “70 percent” and “not our best night.”
He further explained, “We’re not looking at the wins and losses. We’re looking at the attitude, the facial expressions, the hustle. That’s what’s important to us.”
Which is a large part of the reason that the wrestling team is off to the best start in its history (13-0) and rose Tuesday to the No. 1 ranking. The ascent couldn’t be better timed, given that Penn State is wrestling the powerful Iowa Hawkeyes at 2 p.m. Sunday in Rec Hall—and the match is already sold out. (And that the NCAA Championships are right down the road in Philadelphia, although those tickets are already sold out, too.)
Much of the buzz surrounding the Pitt match was about Penn State’s probable rise to No. 1; the Nittany Lions had been ranked No. 2, and top-ranked Cornell had been upset by Lehigh the night before. So it was natural that one of the reporters asked Sanderson whether he thought the wrestlers had been thinking about that possibility as well.
Sanderson paused. “That would be a mistake,” he said. I was standing at the back of the media scrum, and I could practically feel the intensity radiating off of him.
As Guy Cipriano of the Centre Daily Times wrote, “It’s no wonder Sanderson never lost in college. His expectations are different than others.” It’s fascinating to watch that attitude rub off on Sanderson’s wrestlers.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Penn State student-athletes aren’t in season right now, but there’s plenty to keep Nittany Lion sports in the news. A quick primer:
-Ben Heath, who went from role player to All-American candidate over the course of a terrific junior season (and who you can read more about when our July/August issue hits mailboxes in a few weeks), is hoping to hear his name called in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. The MLB draft is notoriously hard to call, but given his skill set— a solid defensive catcher who hits for power and average—he has a shot at being Penn State’s highest-drafted non-pitcher in more than 30 years. The draft starts tonight at 7 p.m., continues Tuesday, and wraps up Wednesday.
-Sunday’s Centre Daily Times had an interesting story about how Nittany Lion wrestling coach Cael Sanderson and the program’s boosters are hoping to make University Park a training destination for the best American wrestlers. Given the sport’s popularity in central Pennsylvania, Sanderson’s icon status, and the quality of the facilities at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, that goal seems well on its way to becoming reality.
-Last but hardly least, Big Ten expansion talk has gotten a lot more complicated. The league had proposed a slow, deliberate approach to the question of adding a new member (or members), but reports over the past few days mean the Big Ten might have to act fast. As the New York Times reports today, the Pac-10 is considering annexing half of the Big 12 (including potential Big Ten target Texas), a move that would force the hand of Big Ten targets Missouri and Nebraska, not to mention coveted longshot Notre Dame. It all means that Joe Paterno might soon see his hopes for a bigger Big Ten come to fruition, and that the college sports landscape might be on the verge of dramatic change.
Or, as the Times story points out, nothing at all might change. Either way, we should know sooner than later.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Some great visibility for the Penn State wrestling program: Sunday’s New York Times has a substantial article on the program and its hoped-for revitalization under new head coach Cael Sanderson.
Penn State hired Sanderson, who is the best collegiate wrestler ever (as evidenced by his perfect 159-0 record and four NCAA titles), to be its new coach last spring. Given that the Lions haven’t won a national championship in wrestling in more than half a century, Sanderson’s move to Happy Valley “at first glance … looked like the equivalent of Sanderson leaving Broadway for regional theater,” the Times article says.
But Pennsylvania is wrestling country, and Penn State has great wrestling facilities and fans. As Sanderson told the Times: “It’s like if I was a football coach with a chance to go to Texas where all the great players are, where they have the best facilities and where the fans support you to this incredible level.”
Under Sanderson (whom we profiled in our Sept-Oct issue), the Lions are off to a good start this year and are ranked No. 15 in the latest coaches’ poll. But Sanderson has much bigger ambitions for the program than just a top-20 ranking. “Coach has made his goal for us real clear,” wrestler Quentin Wright is quoted in the Times article as saying. “We want to win a team championship, and we want to win a lot of them.”
Tina Hay, editor