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Old face fills 197-pound slot

Junior 157-pounder Dan Vallimont’s value to the Penn State wrestling team stretches beyond his consistent on-mat efforts.

 

When the Nittany Lions were scrambling to find a 197- pounder after coach Troy Sunderland dismissed Jared Platt from the program this past spring, Vallimont placed a phone call to former roommate Andrew Haile. The call served as the catalyst to the two-time PIAA Class AAA placewinner at Greensburg Salem High School rejoining the program.

 

A lingering back injury sustained in high school and the rigors of cutting weight convinced Haile to leave the sport after the 2005-06 season. He said his back feels better and wrestling at 197, instead of 184, helped him regain his vigor.

 

“I didn’t wrestle well my senior high school season and coming into my freshman year I still wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. “I think the time off let my body completely heal up.”

 

Haile claimed the starting spot at 197 with a perfect record during last weekend’s wrestle-offs. Haile, along with four other projected starters, are scheduled to compete in this weekend’s Michigan State Open.

 

With the graduation of national champion Phil Davis and Platt’s dismissal, Haile is competing at a weight many view as Penn State’s biggest hole.

 

“I almost like to hear that because nobody expects anything out of you,” Haile said. “I’m working hard. I’m not just going out there to fill a spot and not give up six points. I’m looking to gain three, four, five or six points for us.”

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