Posts tagged ‘NCAA championships’

The Penn Stater Daily — March 21, 2014

Hail to the victors: Penn State lined up against No. 12 Michigan on Thursday in the first ever Big Ten hockey tournament game, and for the third time in five meetings this season, the Nittany Lions came out on top. It took 52 saves from goalie Matthew Skoff, a breakaway goal from Taylor Holstrom, a spinning puck kicked off the goal line—with about a millimeter to spare—by Eric Scheid, and a 93rd-minute goal by freshman Zach Saar, but the Lions advanced with a 2-1, double-overtime win. You can see all the highlights below:

Penn State is set to face Wisconsin in the tournament semifinals at 3 p.m. today.

Dynasty building: The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team stands in first place after Thursday’s opening day at the NCAA championship meet in Oklahoma City. The meet continues Friday and wraps up Saturday night, when coach Cael Sanderson’s squad will be looking to clinch its fourth straight national title. Meanwhile, the men’s and women’s fencing teams—ranked 1st and 5th nationally—enter the NCAA Championships in Columbus today looking to add the program’s 13th overall national title. And the Lady Lion basketball team, a No. 3 seed, opens NCAA tournament play at home Sunday against Wichita State.

A hazing death? The suicide of a Penn State Altoona freshman has become national news as police investigate a possible connection to fraternity hazing. Marquise Braham died Friday in Long Island, and the Altoona chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa has been suspended by the campus pending an investigation.

Change is constant: In the latest in a series previewing spring football practice, Mike Poorman ’82 of focuses on redshirt junior Anthony Alosi, one of the few Lions to be suiting up for their fourth spring practice—meaning, of course, that’s he’s done so for three head coaches. It’s a cool perspective, and a reminder of how just much change the veterans on this team have witnessed during their careers.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 21, 2014 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

Wrestlers Hungry to Defend NCAA Title

Frank Molinaro celebrates his Big Ten title.

This time, of all things, it was cake.

Asked Monday afternoon if he had anything special planned for the wrestling team headed into the NCAA Championships, which start Thursday morning in St. Louis, coach Cael Sanderson said that after practice, everyone would eat a treat baked by a friend, Bonnie Epstein, who lives in Ohio.  Explained Sanderson, “To celebrate how great we’re going to wrestle this weekend.”

It was hard to know how seriously to take that. Wrestlers? Chowing down on cake? The week of the biggest tournament of the season? Except for heavyweights, these guys watch every mouthful they consume. Back in my Collegian days, I once interviewed a wrestler who told me the only thing he’d eaten since Monday was a Chicklet (this was on a Thursday), and earlier this season, 149-pounder Frank Molinaro cracked that when friends came over to watch Phil Davis compete in UFC, he served ice chips. I’m pretty sure that even though he laughed, that wasn’t really a joke.

But on Tuesday, Sanderson tweeted, “There’s ‘the Force’ in Star Wars and ‘the Power of Greyskull’ in He-man but nothing compares to the power of Bonnie Epstein.” So, apparently, he did let the wrestlers eat a little cake. And, apparently, it was really good. (Or, maybe, he ate it all himself?)

Asked about how, specifically, the Nittany Lions were preparing to defend their NCAA team title, Sanderson was a lot more reticent. Some guys watch film, some guys don’t. He wouldn’t specify who was who. He mentioned, again, that the wrestlers were at their best when they were confident and having fun, and he trotted out all of the usual clichés, about how winning the Big Ten title was a good “stepping stone” to the NCAAs, and how the wrestlers “feed off each other” when one particular guy dominates his opponent.

He also mentioned in passing that the Nittany Lions are underdogs in their quest to win back-to-back NCAA team titles. On paper, going by the seeds, if every wrestler holds his spot, the team title would go to Iowa. In real life, though, the Nittany Lions will be relying, again, on bonus team points for major decisions, technical falls, and pins. That’s the aggressive style of wrestling that made them the first Penn State NCAA team champion—and first team champion from east of the Mississippi—since 1953.

They’ve qualified nine wrestlers for nationals, and three of them are undefeated No. 1 seeds—Molinaro, 165-pounder David Taylor, and 174-pounder Ed Ruth.  (Ruth, by the way, is still sporting a two-toned hairdo, but he’s swapped out the blond for teal.) All of them were dominant at the Big Ten tournament, enabling the Nittany Lions to come from behind after they fell to third on the first day of the two-day tournament. If you want to get a sense of how pumped up these guys are, take a look at this video of Molinaro celebrating his victory. That’s some serious chest-thumping.

Wrestling starts Thursday morning, with the quarterfinals Friday morning and the semifinals Friday night. You can catch some of the action online at ESPN3 or on ESPNU (click here for the broadcast schedule). The finals, televised live by ESPN are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Should be fun to watch.

“Everybody expects that we’re going to be the champion,” Taylor said. “We expect the same thing.”

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 15, 2012 at 8:46 am 1 comment

Another Chance for Penn State Wrestling Against Iowa

Quentin Wright hopes the Nittany Lions will be on top during this season's dual meet, not just the NCAA tournament.

Quentin Wright didn’t want to get ahead of himself; he didn’t circle Jan. 22, date of the wrestling team’s dual against Iowa, back when the schedule went out over the summer. (Plenty of other people did, though; individual match tickets sold out 90 minutes after they went on sale in October.)

Recently, though—even as the defending national champions have dominated January, winning the Southern Scuffle tournament and giving up only nine team points, total, against Big Ten foes Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin—Wright has had the Hawkeyes on his mind.

“I don’t know about their side of the story,” said Wright, the defending NCAA champion at 184 pounds, who’s ranked No. 2 this season. “But definitely, this is one match of the year that we’re fired up for.”

Wright thought the dual might mean more to the Nittany Lions, who have over the years, as he said, “been on the lower end, getting beaten up, most of the time.” But it seems like seems like Iowa is pretty fired up, too. At the Hawkeyes’ postseason banquet last April, it seemed that coach Tom Brands had already forgotten how they had dominated Penn State at Rec Hall in a dual and was focused on how Penn State beat them at the NCAA championships.

“Are you OK with being down a couple of notches? Are you OK with getting whipped? Are you OK with getting whipped by Penn State?” Brands asked. “If you’re not, do you have an imagination to go beyond where you are now and what you think is hard work, and what you think is the right way, and what you think is doing everything you can to really open up the flood gates to realizing your potential?”

All of which is to say that the dual, 2 p.m. Sunday in Rec Hall, is getting a lot of attention. Iowa’s ranked No. 2, Penn State is No. 3, and there will be 14 ranked wrestlers competing. None of the Nittany Lions have ever been on a team that has beaten Iowa in a dual, and the one milestone coach Cael Sanderson hasn’t achieved in his storied career is being part of a team, as an athlete or coach, that’s won a dual meet against the Hawkeyes. (more…)

January 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

Bridget Franek is an NCAA Champion

When I interviewed Bridget Franek for the sports profile in our March/April issue, she made it clear that her already loaded resume — which included Big Ten championships and All-American honors — wouldn’t feel complete until she added a national championship. And she knew the steeplechase was her best chance to get it.

Running at the NCAA Championship meet Saturday in Eugene, Ore., Franek achieved her goal, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 9:38.86. At the end, it was something of a blowout: Franek finished a full 13 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. The win marked her 10th All-American honor and helped the Penn State women to a fourth-place showing at the meet.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

June 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

A Rousing Welcome

3011022He didn’t utter the words until near the end of Monday’s introductory press conference — which was held in Rec Hall with some cheerleaders, the Nittany Lion mascot and the entire team on the floor. But Penn State’s new wrestling coach, Cael Sanderson, finally did state his objective loud and clear: “My goal is to compete for the national championship every year. It’s real simple.”

The crowd — and, yes, there were several hundred people in the stands — cheered.

Because that’s exactly what Sanderson did as a wrestler. He never lost a match in four seasons at Iowa State, posting a 159-0 record and winning four NCAA titles. (His first, by the way, came at the Bryce Jordan Center in 1999, when he became the first freshman to win the Outstanding Wrestler award. Athletic director Tim Curley said at the press conference, “We take great credit for him getting off to a good start.”)

As Sanderson spoke Monday, directly above him, high in the Rec Hall rafters, hung the banner from Penn State’s only NCAA team wrestling title, in 1953.

Given the abundance of high school wrestling talent in Pennsylvania, many wrestling fans have puzzled over why the Nittany Lions — who have had 18 wrestlers win 21 individual NCAA titles — haven’t regularly contended for the team title. Sanderson aims to change that. In his three seasons as coach at Iowa State, his alma mater, all 30 wrestlers qualified for nationals.

Sanderson charmed the audience with humor. As part of his opening statement, he noted, “I can’t stop thinking about this, but we need to get the mascot on a weight program.” Asked about Internet rumors of an astronomically high salary, he responded, “I’ve heard that as well, and I’ve been looking forward to talking to Mr. Curley about that.” Pressed for some non-wrestling attributes that attracted him to Penn State, he mentioned the “great ice cream.”

And, of course, he took note of the crowd. There aren’t too many places on the planet that can draw fans for the introduction of a wrestling coach. “If we can get this many people out for a press conference,” he said, “I can’t wait to see what we’ll do for a dual meet.”

Also noteworthy: In addition to the NCAA titles, the Wheaties box and the Olympic gold medal, Curley mentioned another line on Sanderson’s resume — being named by Sports Illustrated for Women as one of the 50 sexiest athletes of 2001.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

April 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm 2 comments

Not Bad for a Rookie


When I was out in San Francisco last week I missed the news that Kerry McCoy ’97 was named Wrestling Coach of the Year in the ACC. Thanks to Alumni Council member Darryl Bundrige ’93 for bringing it to our attention. McCoy, a two-time Olympian, just finished his first year as head coach at the University of Maryland, after three seasons as top guy at Stanford. The Terps won the ACC tournament title and finished 10th at NCAAs.

By contrast, it was a tough year for Penn State head coach Troy Sunderland ’93, whose team finished third in the nation just a year ago but struggled to a 8-12-2 record in dual meets this season and a seventh-place finish in the Big Ten. There’s quite a bit of speculation that Sunderland will not be returning as the Lions’ coach next year. You can read about that here and here, among other places.

Tina Hay, editor

April 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

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