By Jocelyn Syrstad, Collegian Staff Writer (Original here)
Bubba Jenkins described the Penn State wrestling team’s weekend performances as “bittersweet.”
The junior 149-pounder said the No. 24 Nittany Lions put together a nearly perfect performance in their 28-12 win at Michigan State Friday, but then had a “complete meltdown” in Saturday’s 31-6 loss at No. 17 Michigan.
Penn State has only one regular season dual meet remaining before the postseason.
“I thought we wrestled pretty well on Friday night,” Penn State coach Troy Sunderland said. “I thought each of the guys wrestled pretty hard, and I think Saturday night we could have wrestled better, sharper as a team. Along with just not wrestling well, we didn’t get any rhythm or motion put together.”
Penn State won its first conference meet of the season Friday, winning seven of the 10 bouts against Michigan State. In that meet, sophomore Brad Pataky and Jenkins recorded technical falls and freshman Cameron Wade pinned his opponent in just 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
That was not the case Saturday, as Pataky and Jenkins were the only Lions to win their respective matches. Freshman J.R. Brown was pinned in the 197-pound weight class and Tim Darling lost a major decision which added four points to the Wolverines team score.
Senior Jake Strayer could not compete in either dual meet because he did not make weight in the 133-pound weight class.
“I think the big difference was just coming back into the fight that we need to have,” Pataky said. “We definitely had that fight on Friday, and we just needed to carry that out through [Saturday] and we got a little away from it and we should have come back, but we didn’t.”
The Lions were outscored in their ten bouts against Michigan, 55-30. This is compared to Friday’s performance where Penn State racked up 71 points compared to Michigan State’s 32.
Freshman Quentin Wright said his teammates did a better job of winning the scrambles in Friday’s dual meet, but could not continue that Saturday. He said everyone on the team needs to evaluate his weekend performances and make the necessary adjustments for the Big Ten Championship.
“I just think we need to keep working, and keep doing what we need to do and things will fall in place,” Jenkins said. “Everyone needs to focus in individually on what they need to do, and get it done that way.”
The Lions ended their regular season conference dual meets with a Big Ten record of 1-5-2. The wrestlers said this is not how they expected this portion of their year to go, but they are looking at it as motivation to do better in the tournament season.
“We definitely had higher expectations, I think, but it’s a good thing to know that it’s not the end of the season yet,” Pataky said. “It’s better off happening now than happening at the end of the season.”