Posts tagged ‘Penn State wrestling’

A Blue-White Weigh-in

Illustration via Corrine Furjanic

Weigh-offs before a mixed martial arts fight have a reputation for lots of posturing, stare-downs and the occasional scuffle. School spirit, not so much. But before his January 2012 fight against Rashad Evans, light heavyweight Phil Davis ’08 stepped on the scale wearing a Penn State singlet, the kind he would have worn as a four-time all-American and 2008 national champion for the Nittany Lions.

“It was a time where we needed a little morale,” said Davis during a promotional visit to Happy Valley ahead of the Bellator MMA promotion’s debut in the Bryce Jordan Center. Davis, along with three-time national champion Ed Ruth ’14, will be fighting Nov. 3 on a Spike-televised event from the same arena that would be packed to the rafters when they wrestled. As he prepares for a homecoming in the cage, the time seems right to bring the singlet back. “I might have to get a hold of one of those fatigue ones, man. That was sick,” says Davis, referring to the blue and white digi camo singlet that makes occasional appearances on the mat. “We’ll have to talk to somebody.”

The light heavyweight, known for donning pink shorts in the cage, said he appreciates the individualism afforded a fighter, mixing it with the team-first mentality of his college days. “Our values are that the basic blue and white, and uniformity is how we achieve together,” he said. “No names on the back. That’s who we are. Penn State, the wrestling singlet was unchanged for 100 years, and on our 100th-year anniversary we went from a blue singlet with white writing—get this, it’s going to get crazy—to a white singlet with blue writing. And that was living on the wild side. … I feel like I come to love and appreciate that mindset, and then take that forward with me into the world. But also, I think it’s fun to showcase my uniqueness and character a little bit. But not too much personality.”

There’s more on Davis and Ruth and their transition to the MMA cage in our Nov./Dec. 2017 issue, already arriving in mailboxes.

Bill Zimmerman, special to

October 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Inside Our May/June 2017 Issue

A look back at some of the musical acts to make their way through Happy Valley, starting on the cover with Jon Bon Jovi.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, our May/June issue will help you relive some of the more memorable and iconic musical acts to play the Bryce Jordan Center since its opening in 1996. Starting with Jon Bon Jovi on the cover, longtime BJC marketing director Bernie Punt ’84 takes us backstage to talk about what it took to land Paul McCartney, the parenting skills of Gene Simmons, and what makes Garth Brooks a favorite among BJC staff, among other behind-the-scenes stories. The retrospective begins on p. 44.

The new issue, arriving in mailboxes soon, also tells how Dr. J. Richard Ward ’66, a civilian chemist, befriended a Russian defector in the waning days of the Cold War and unwittingly became a secret operative for the CIA. The tale of “The Accidental Spy” begins on p. 38.

You’ll also get a look at how Penn State experts are helping the Central American nation of Colombia move away from the cocaine trade by instead growing the key ingredient in chocolate (p. 30). You’ll meet Rob Turrisi, a professor whose research has shown that short, targeted conversations with teenagers can have a substantial impact on reducing high-risk behaviors like tanning and binge drinking (p. 52). Plus a look back at memorable seasons for Penn State wrestling (again) and men’s ice hockey.

What do you think about the new issue? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us at

B.J. Reyes, associate editor

April 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

A Weekend Worthy of Praise

Photo via Mark Selders /

Photo via Mark Selders /

Frank Molinaro ’12 had one heck of a weekend. His performance for the United States’ wrestling team at the Freestyle World Cup led to Molinaro getting named’s Wrestler of the Week.

Molinaro wrestled four times for the U.S., which came in fourth place at the event. He won all four matches over wrestlers from Azerbaijan, India, Iran, and Georgia en route to an individual gold medal. The win over Iran’s Sayed Mohammadi – who is ranked seventh in the world in the 65kg weight class – was especially impressive, as Molinaro came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3.

Here’s to hoping that Molinaro keeps racking up wins all the way through this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. Also, make sure you check out our July/August issue, which will include a feature on Penn State at the Olympics.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 15, 2016 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

Inside Our May/June 2016 Issue

MikeCoverThe May/June 2016 issue of The Penn Stater is hitting mailboxes soon. In the cover story, “The Mayor of 16802,” we celebrate the career of Mike Herr, who has been the friendly face of the campus post office for nearly 50 years. He retired in April, but before his last day on the job we were able to photograph him at work and, of course, at play. You’ll find his story and some wonderful shots captured by photographer Bill Cardoni starting on p. 36. After the photoshoot, Herr and his wife Mary ’84 (pictured below), insisted on serving coconut cream pie to our staff in their Boalsburg home.

In another feature, titled “What’s the Big Idea?” you’ll learn about three alums who have successfully built one of the hottest tech companies in Silicon Valley. Their company, Weebly, makes it easy to build a website—and, ultimately, is giving other entrepreneurs a web platform to grow their own businesses.

“World Travelers” shares the stories of alumni who studied abroad. Here, you’ll read about the places they went, the people they met, and the languages—and lessons—they learned.

Also in the magazine: A look at this year’s Alumni Teaching Fellows; a recap of the unstoppable Nittany Lion wrestlers who notched another NCAA team title this spring; and a nod to Rod Kirsch, longtime senior vice president for development and alumni relations, who will be leaving his position in August.

Let us know what you think about the new issue. Comment below or email

Mike Herr aka Mike the Mailman PSU

Photo by CARDONI

Amy Downey, senior editor

April 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm 3 comments

Bo Nickal Keeps Winning


Wrestling fans knew a lot about Bo Nickal heading into his redshirt freshman year in 2015. The Texas native came to Happy Valley after an impressive high school career – he was a three-time state champion and possessed a 183-7 record, 131 of those wins coming via pin.

They also knew Nickal because he had one of the hardest jobs in sports – he had to be the guy who replaced a star. In this case, Nickal had to replace Matt Brown ’15 at 174. Brown won a national champion as a senior and a three-time All-American, so for Nickal to fill Brown’s shoes, it would require a monstrous year.

So far, Nickal has exceeded just about every expectation that a person can have for a redshirt freshman. He’s the top-ranked wrestler in the country in his weight class and has accrued a 25-1 record, which is tied for the most wins on the team with another redshirt freshman, Jason Nolf. He’s made an impact right away, and all of it comes down to one thing: Nickal was, essentially, bred to be a wrestler.

Nickal was raised in a wrestling household. His dad is a wrestling coach and his grandfather was a collegiate wrestler at Northern Colorado. Even one of his sisters wrestled for a year as a child before moving on to other things.

All of this helped cultivate Nickal’s love of wrestling. From the time he was eight years old, he knew that he eventually wanted to wrestle collegiately.

cardoni_BoNickal15_17Fast forward a decade to when Nickal had to pick a school. That part was a little difficult, considering he held offers from major programs like Cornell, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. But Penn State was able to give him everything, from a traditionally strong program to an outstanding visit when he was a junior in high school.

“Penn State just felt different from all the other schools I had visited recently,” Nickal said. “I definitely felt that I fit in a lot better.”

He also had a path to competing early on in his career. Nickal redshirted during his first year in Happy Valley, saying that the implication was that he would replace Brown when the time came. After getting “better at every area,” working with Brown, and going 13-2 as an unattached competitor, Nickal finally got his chance in 2015-16.

So far, he’s been outstanding. This, Nickal said, is something that happened because he has an inherent desire to always improve.

“Every day, get better, not have any days where I was staying the same or getting worse,” Nickal said.

The scary thing is, Nickal keeps improving. He hopes to win a national championship at the upcoming NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in New York City next month, and once he’s done with that, he’s (hopefully) moving on to something much bigger.

“I plan on trying to make the team this year,” Nickal said when asked about competing at the Olympics. “Then for however many years to come that I’m able to keep competing and keep wrestling, I plan on doing that as long as my body holds up.”

Sure, trying to make the Olympics as a 20-year-old going into his redshirt sophomore season will be tough. But seeing as how he’s been able to fill in for one of the best wrestlers in program history with no issues, would you bet against Nickal?

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm 1 comment

On the Search for Penn State’s Next Football Coach

The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything.

That’s been the smart observer’s mantra regarding Penn State’s search for a new head football coach, a title Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g has held on an interim basis for more than a month. Bradley coached the Nittany Lions in their final three regular season games, and is expected to coach the team at least through its appearance in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2. Beyond that? Virtually no one seems to know anything. Since late November, when the University announced the formation of a search committee to find Joe Paterno’s replacement, the rumors have been torrential—and the actual news non-existent.

Acting athletic director David Joyner ’72, ’76g heads the search committee, and he’s said little publicly about the search. The rare exceptions have been shooting down rumors of interviews or pending hires when asked about them by reporters, or the couple of video Q&As he’s done on The second of those was posted Thursday, and you can see it below.

The emotions of those following the search range from curious to increasingly panic stricken—one recent post on a Penn State football message board was dedicated to counting the days fans have been “held hostage” waiting for a new coach. In the video, Joyner is asked, essentially, what’s taking so long. His response? “We’re about exactly where I wanted to be at this point in time. We may be conducting our search a little different than other people; not saying they’re not, but we’re being very methodical and precise about what we’re doing and who we’re talking to.”

Joyner also says “We don’t have a lack of people to look at,” and indeed, the list of coaches who, without any confirmation, have been connected to the Penn State job is lengthy. Blue White Illustrated maintains a “hot board” (subscription required) of potential candidates, and essentially every Penn State and national college football writer has dedicated column inches to the speculation. Thursday brought what might’ve been the steadiest stream of rumors that the job had in fact been filled; the fact that the Wikipedia entry for Boise State coach Chris Petersen was briefly tweaked to claim he’d been hired by Penn State only added to the lunacy.

What seems clear is that Joyner and the rest of the committee are focused less on soothing the curiosity (or panic) of fans than they are making the right hire. When, and how, that happens remains anyone’s guess, but we’ll end with one fact we find instructive: The more informed media speculation has focused on Joyner and fellow committee member Ira Lubert ’73 as the key figures in this search. That matters (or seems to) because Joyner and Lubert—former Nittany Lion wrestling teammates—are widely credited with convincing Cael Sanderson to leave his alma mater and take over the Penn State wrestling program. Sanderson, of course, is the biggest name in collegiate wrestling, and he led the Lions to a national title last spring.

Is there a comparable hire for the Penn State football job? Probably not. But there is a right one, and in Joyner and Lubert, there’s a precedent for finding it.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm 1 comment

Older Posts

Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 499 other followers

%d bloggers like this: