New Penn State head football coach James Franklin was one of the 6,369 fans in attendance for the Nittany Lions' wrestling match vs. Purdue. He stopped by the locker room beforehand, addressed the sold-out crowd at intermission and sat matside with his wife and two daughters until he left to go across campus for the women's basketball game.
Although he stayed only until the 165-pound matchup, Franklin watched as Penn State rolled to a 34-3 win over the Boilermakers, winning nine of the 10 bouts and scoring 36 takedowns compared to Purdue's two.
Despite the blowout score -- and the special guest in attendance -- head coach Cael Sanderson said he wasn't overly impressed with his wrestlers' performance.
"We don't always judge our performance on the score," he said. "I'm not too happy with the way we competed today. A lot of that has to do with the way we trained them this week, coming off a big tournament. We were coming in a little cold maybe. But still, you've got to still find a way to be at your best, regardless."
Best Performance - Sanderson, however, was impressed with true freshman 141-pounder Zain Retherford's performance. In the third period, Retherford poured on two takedowns and an escape to transform a 4-1 lead into 10-2 major decision victory.
Said Sanderson, "Zain is just one of those guys who is real consistent, like a David Taylor who wrestles the same every time. Zain wrestles the same everytime."
Most Anticipated Match - Following off-season shoulder surgery, Andrew Alton and Dylan Alton made their debut in the starting lineups. At 149, Andrew hung on for a 7-6 win over Purude's Brandon Nelson -- despite having to stop the bout in the third period to tend to an injured shoulder (opposite from the surgically repaired shoulder.) Dylan followed Andrew up with with a 6-1 victory while compiling 2:37 of riding time.
Andrew said he felt "a little nervous" before his return, adding that "I need to get more mentally prepared" for future matches. Meanwhile, Dylan said about the layoff, "We were patient. Now we're ready to go."
Best Move - Franklin almost left before the 165-pound match, but someone must have convinced him to stick around to watch NCAA champ David Taylor. He was rewarded by seeing Taylor pin his opponent in 2:23 using an arm bar and wrist control. As Taylor hustled off the mat following the victory, Franklin bowed both hands toward the senior as if he was saying, "I'm not worthy."
Biggest Surprise - Despite owning a 7-3 record, Cache Quiroga was unranked and his 9-2 win over Jimmy Gulibon at 133 was considered an upset.
Afterward, Sanderson said how Gulibon continues to have some weight management issues at 133, but he believes success for Gulibon will only come with time.
"He just didn't have a whole lot in him out there," Sanderson said. "We're trying to figure it out. We know how good Jimmy is. Everyone in the state of Pennsylvania knows how he good he is. But you've got to go wrestle and score points and have some life in you out here."
Did you notice? At intermission, Franklin was introduced to a standing ovation as Penn State's 16th head football coach. He kept the speech short and sweet, saying only, "I can't tell you how excited me and my family are to be back in the great state of Pennsylvania."