photo courtesy of Richard Immel
Top-ranked Penn State hosted its media day on Tuesday as Cael Sanderson and wrestlers answered a slew of questions on topics ranging from the lineup, to the Olympic year schedule, to transfers and redshirts.
We’ll walk you through the biggest news, notes, and quotes coming out of those interviews.
To start the season against the US Naval Academy, the Penn State lineup will be as follows
125: Devin Schnupp OR Brody Teske
133: Roman Bravo-Young
141: Nick Lee
149: Luke Gardner OR Jarod Verkleeren
157: Brady Berge OR Bo Pipher
165: Vincenzo Joseph
174: Mark Hall
184: Shakur Rasheed OR Creighton Edsell
197: Kyle Conel
285: Anthony Cassar
The Nittany Lions expect four or five wrestlers to attend the Olympic Trials Qualifier in Fort Worth in December.
Mark Hall has yet to decide whether he’s attending, while Roman Bravo-Young confirmed his plans to focus on folkstyle.
Vincenzo Joseph will compete at the Bill Farrell Memorial Open next weekend.
Brady Berge’s head injury suffered at the U23 World Championships was not as severe as first feared, though it’s unlikely he wrestles the opening weekend.
The spots at 125 and 149 are both up for grabs and will likely continue to be that way throughout the first part of the season.
Shakur Rasheed had offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered mid-way through the 2018-19 season.
Kyle Conel is feeling fully healthy after shoulder surgery to repair torn ligaments suffered prior to the 2018-19 season.
While Berge is unlikely to feature against Navy, Sanderson said the U23 tournament up at 74 kilos (163.3 pounds) will not affect his descent plan and that he’s able to wrestle as soon as they feel he’s healthy.
Penn State purposely scheduled around the December trials qualifier, meaning in part that it will not attend the Southern Scuffle to begin the new year.
Aaron Brooks, Seth Nevills, Joe Lee and Michael Beard will all take redshirt years after grey shirting a year ago. Brooks says he plans on trying to qualify for Olympic Trials, though it’s undetermined where he’ll be at 74 kilos or 86 kilos.
Mark Hall pointed out true freshman Carter Starocci as a young guy in the room that has stood out.
Vincenzo Joseph feels he’s improved his discipline in the offseason and feels that in order to upend Iowa’s Alex Marinelli he needs to focus on keeping his intensity level up for all seven minutes.
Shakur Rasheed continued the blue hair trend set by Bo Nickal a year ago, while Brody Teske’s mullet-’stache combo and Kyle Conel’s handlebar ‘stache are in competition for best hair on the team.
Having already graduated, Rasheed was not sure whether he was going to return for his redshirt senior season.
Mason Manville is the lone wrestler taking an Olympic Redshirt and will train full-time out at the OTC this year.
Sanderson expects some wrestlers who are attempting to qualify for trials to be on some sort of a “rep count” similar to Iowa expects for Spencer Lee.
High school senior Matt Lee has moved to State College to take online classes and is living with brothers Nick and Joe.
“Really, I would prefer being hurt the whole year and then be healthy for nationals,” Rasheed said of his knee injury. “I don’t give a crap about the year. I mean, is it fun? Is it cool to do the matches? Yeah, I mean I love doing all that crap. I mean, the nationals is my goal. That’s all I want to do. I want to win that.”
“I don’t pay attention to Flo or any of that,” Rasheed added about his upcoming match with No. 1-ranked Zahid Valencia. “…I actually didn’t know that he was moving up until probably a month or so ago. But that’s cool. It makes the weight class harder. It gives a more hyped match for nationals, obviously we both still have to make to the finals. But, hey, he’s moving up. He’s a two-time national champ. Let’s get it. I’m all about this work. It’ll make my national title that much better.”
“That was huge. I realized I only have one year at this. So I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. And every day that I’m here I really get reassured that I did make the right decision, because I just have so much fun here on a daily basis.” – Kyle Conel on choosing a transfer destination where he would be happy on and off the mat.
“Obviously I see it, but I think once you get to the national tournament you gotta win five matches to win it. So I think I just take it one match at a time and it doesn’t matter who you wrestle, you gotta give it 100 percent effort either way.” – Nick Lee on the absence of Yianni Diakomihalis and Jaydin Eierman.
“Coach KJ (Kevin Jackson), he and I are real close. I still call him sometimes. He was a big part of the mental side of it. My dad always says that he (Jackson) was like my dad out there.” – Aaron Brooks on time spent with Kevin Jackson at the OTC.