Penn State returns to State College after a month break from home matches. This weekend marked the second home match for the No. 2 ranked Nittany Lions, where they took on the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in Rec Hall. While the meet itself had few surprises with nearly all of the matches going in favor of Penn State, there were still several storylines that emerged from the wrestling. Here are some of the biggest changes and developments that are happening within Penn State’s lineup:
125 just got a little more complicated.
Over the past four years PSU has struggled to find a consistent 125 pounder to score points for them in dual meets, but this year with Brody Teske, Devin Schnupp, and Brandon Meredith all competing for the starting spot it looks like Penn State may soon improve their lineup. While during the preseason it was expected that Teske would be the man, PSU was always sure to mention Schnupp and Meredith while projecting their lineup for matches, implying that there was high contention for the starting spot. Things became more complicated this weekend when Meredith was given a chance to start against #11 ranked Paetzell during PSU’s away match against Lehigh. Unfortunately, he fell short in the match losing in a 15-5 MD, but was not deterred as he went and beat then #10 Michael Colliocco a mere two days later in a 7-5 decision. While this won’t necessarily secure the starting position for Meredith, it does make PSU’s final decision slightly more complicated. Interestingly, this was the Nittany Lion’s first ranked win at 125 since Nico Megaludis wrestled for Penn State!
Aaron Brooks’ shirt has been pulled and boy, does he look good!
Junior World medalist Aaron Brooks made his college debut this weekend starting for Penn State against both Lehigh and UPenn at 184 pounds, after having his redshirt pulled. It is to my understanding that he will be PSU’s starter for the rest of the season, and that Shakur Rasheed will move up to 197 pounds. Unfortunately for Kyle Conel, these movements would bump him out of the lineup and onto the bench after Rasheed makes his return. Aaron Brooks defeated both Chris Weiler and Jesse Quatze this weekend in dominant fashion, scoring a total of nine takedowns in two matches. Cael Sanderson mentioned in the post-match press conference that Brooks wrestled extremely well and that he’s excited for him.
What’s Cassar’s plan?
Instead of #1 ranked Anthony Cassar wrestling on Sunday afternoon, we saw Penn State’s backup Austin Hoopes take on Joey Slackman, even though Austin barely weighed in over 197 pounds. Where was Cassar? According to Cael, he was getting a heavy lift in and preparing for the upcoming U.S. Open freestyle tournament where Cassar plans to appear at the senior-level competition. Hopefully, with a high-placing finish, Cassar will qualify for the Olympic Team Trials and take a shot at making the U.S. Olympic Team, meaning that we will see less of him than expected. And Austin Hoopes, while undersized, may be wrestling instead of Cassar as we approach the Olympic Trials.
So there we have it! Penn State wrestling will take a short break and will return next semester to a dual with Illinois in Rec Hall on January 10th. Luckily for us, many of the top PSU wrestlers will be making appearances at the U.S. Open later this December!