Penn State signed three wrestlers to its Class of 2013, and as freshmen, the trio is already making an impact inside the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.
We featured Garrett Hammond in a previous "Spotlight", as a possible heir apparent to senior 165-pounder David Taylor. Click here to read it. Zain Retherford, the highest-ranked recruit of last year's class and the only one who didn't redshirt, will be under his own spotlight Sunday when he faces the nation's top ranked 141-pounder Logan Stieber of Ohio State.
So that leaves us with Matt McCutcheon, a two-time Pennsylvania state finalist and one-time state champ who compiled a 158-14 career record at Kiski Area. Penn State lists McCutcheon as a 184- or 197-pounder, but, wrestling unattached, his only five college matches have come at 184. And all five of those matches occurred at Lock Haven's Mat Town Open Dec. 1, a tournament in which McCutcheon went 4-1 and finished third place.
That's been McCutcheon's only competition date, which is mostly due to the late start of his freshman season. He sat the first month with an undisclosed injury, and the early-season setback did not sit well with the ambitious and dedicated freshman.
"McCutcheon has a very, very good attitude," head coach Cael Sanderson said recently. "He loves wrestling. He was out with an injury for a little while and it was driving him crazy. You could tell he was hurting and he was probably crying at night. That's kind of a joke, but not really. He wanted to wrestle and he wants to train. That's why he came here."
Despite having only five matches of collegiate competition under his belt, McCutcheon has been most impressive in the practice room. He'd tell you that he's been getting beaten up by guys like Taylor and Ed Ruth, but that's to be expected with any true freshman against a couple NCAA champs. Otherwise, upperclassmen say McCutcheon has all the tools to be an eventual starter.
He is considered one of the hardest working underclassmen on the team, as he is often seen staying after practice to get individual coaching attention from Sanderson and a workout with Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner.
As a wrestler, people say McCutcheon has smooth takedowns that are predicated upon his natural shot setups. In this sense, he kind of models his game after Taylor. McCutcheon is also known as a nifty scrambler who rarely gives up the easy takedown.
McCutcheon and redshirt freshman Wes Phipps are the two favorites to take over at 184 once Ruth graduates. Phipps recently filled in while Ruth served his one-month suspension, finishing 2-1. Phipps is lighter, also certified at 174, while McCutcheon is a bigger 184-pounder.
They have one common opponent so far this season and that is Fred Garcia of Lock Haven. Phipps lost to Garcia 3-1, while McCutcheon fell during an overtime rideout.