It's Iowa week in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. …It's also finals week at Penn State.
While there were fewer than normal wrestlers practicing at the regular 3:00 p.m. time slot Wednesday -- due to exam and study conflicts -- Penn State's focus on its dual meet Saturday (Big Ten Network - 9:00 p.m.) is unwavering. In fact, Cael Sanderson said the Nittany Lions will take the same focus against the third-ranked Hawkeyes as they do against any other opponent.
"If we're not ready right now, then we're behind," Sanderson said. "I believe our guys are ready mentally and physically. Every match that they wrestle is in front of a big crowd -- whether it's our crowd or at an away meet. So, yeah, (Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena) is a little different because there's a lot more people and they have great fans who really get involved and really know how to push the referees. They know what they're doing. It's experienced and very good crowd."
Look for a complete preview of Penn State's match vs. Iowa later this week on BWI!
Mac to wrestle
197-pound Morgan McIntosh missed last weekend's dual meet vs. Ohio State with an arm injury. Sanderson said Wednesday, however, that the redshirt sophomore is expected to compete vs. the Hawkeyes Saturday.
"McIntosh is definitely wrestling," Sanderson confirmed. "He's ready to go."
McIntosh is expected to draw either Iowa's sophomore Nathan Burak (0-0) or freshman Sammy Brooks (9-3).
Update on the Alton twins
Andrew Alton (149) and Dylan Alton (157) were officially listed as "doubtful" last week by Penn State, an upgrade from "out". Sanderson confirmed last week that they are medically cleared to compete.
But doubtful still means exactly that. Andrew and Dylan are not expected to wrestle vs. Iowa Saturday, and Sanderson is still uncommitted about their status for the Southern Scuffle (Jan. 1-2)
"It's how we're going to bring them back," Sanderson said. "The time and place -- that's a decision we're going to make as a staff."
Andrew and Dylan are expected to compete in an open tournament before their official return to the lineup. Sanderson did not specify which open tournament.
Retherford is Big Ten Wrestler of the Week
After his 4-2 overtime win past Ohio State's Logan Stieber, who at the time was the top-ranked 141-pounder in the country, Zain Retherford was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week. He also has shot up the rankings, rated as high as No. 2 by IntermatWrestle.com. The true freshman from Benton, Pa., owns an 11-0 record.
"He's an all-in kind of a kid," Sanderson said. "From day one he was trying to win everything -- whether it was sprints or warming up. He's one of those guys that just does everything at a higher pace and with a lot more intensity. That's the kind of mentality that we want. He's going to be a great leader for this team in the future and a great example."
Tom Brands evaluates college wrestling in Pennsylvania
Iowa head coach Tom Brands talked to four PSU beat reporters today by conference call in advance of Saturday's meet. I'll include a few of his responses in my dual meet preview later this week, but here's one for now.
We each asked Brands two questions. I think he is one of the best quotes in the sport, so I wanted to get his opinion on something off-beat. So for my second question, I asked him what he had seen from Pennsylvania's other colleges and their wrestling programs since Cael has come to Penn State. Had he seen those programs grow?
I thought Brands' reply was extremely insightful.
He said, "I think people are more serious about it. I think some of these administrations are getting more serious about it -- maybe not necessarily budget-wise, but they're going to put quality people in (their programs) who are going to do the job. … When you have a school like Penn State doing well it automatically upgrades and enhances the region. I believe that. I do think your observation is correct. But to get competitive and be better is one thing. Then go knock the titan off and then come back and tell me how easy that is to do.
"That's what these programs should be aspiring to do. Then we're talking about (how) college wrestling will thrive. It's not just about upgrading your program and getting two or three competitive weight classes. It's about trying to knock the titan off. Or at least come into the dance with the same amount of fire power and at least thinking you can win -- not just looking good doing it."