Penn State eyes top spot in poll
Notes: A featured rematch put on hold and top match-ups
Roger Moore, NCAA.com
The only individual ranking that really matters, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Coaches Panel Ranking was released on Thursday. A result from Thursday night also showed that rankings don’t mean much in January.
Although the numbers have Cornell as the only squad with two top-ranked individuals – Kyle Dake at 149 pounds and Cam Simaz at 197 – it’s Penn State in the lead with seven individuals ranked among the top five, two more than the Big Red.
Cael Sanderson’s squad received a second semester boost from transfer Andrew Long, who is ranked eighth at 133, and the return of Quentin Wright, ranked eighth at 184. Long lost in the NCAA finals at 125 pounds last season while representing Iowa State while Wright, an All-American two seasons ago, is back from injury for Friday night’s dual against rival Pittsburgh.
Cornell, the NWCA National Duals champion, hit its first bump in the road on Thursday night in Bethlehem, Pa. The Big Red dropped a 17-15 dual to No. 17 Lehigh less than a week after LU lost a dual to Navy. The Mountain Hawks’ Brandon Hatchett upset third-ranked Justin Kerber at 165 pounds and Robert Hamlin knocked off third-ranked Steve Bosak at 184. Lehigh's top-ranked heavyweight Zach Rey picked up a major decision in the final bout to fashion the final score.
If the Nittany Lions get through Pitt on Friday and unranked Indiana on Sunday, guess who will be the new No. 1?
Need to Know
• Two big dogs from Division II and Division III met in Omaha, Neb., on Thursday night. UNO, winner of the last two DII titles, beat 2010 Division III champion Augsburg 21-12. The Auggies gave up an injury default at 141 pounds and lost despite Tony Valek’s 3-2 decision against top-ranked Esai Dominguez at 149 pounds. Augsburg was the last team to beat the Mavericks in a dual, in January last year. UNO stays busy, hosting DII No. 3 St. Cloud State on Friday.
• Round 2 of the match-up between Wisconsin’s Andrew Howe and Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs was put on hold due to an injury to Howe in a Jan. 16 dual against Illinois. Burroughs, an NCAA champion in 2009, beat Howe, a champion in 2010, in the Midlands finals in December. The two were scheduled to meet on Friday night in Madison.
“I think (Howe has) never really been injured before,” said UW head coach Barry Davis. “Defeat you can deal with, you can make changes. You can make adjustments. But an injury like this right here, you can’t really control that. It’s basically controlling you. So the hard thing for him is just to relax and slow down and let things heal up. I think he wants to get back and go in right away, but this may take awhile. We’ll see.”
• Iowa City’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena was selected to host the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Dallas hosted the 2000 Trials; Indianapolis was the site in 2004; and Las Vegas in 2008. The 2012 Summer Olympics are set for London.
• A few duals to watch this weekend include Cal Poly taking on Oregon State on Friday and Boise State on Sunday and Iowa State hosting Oklahoma Friday and Oklahoma State on Sunday. Also on Friday, Virginia Tech travels to Rutgers and Northwestern visits Michigan while Minnesota is at Illinois on Sunday. Among Division II's top match-ups is Adams State facing Central Oklahoma on Saturday.
The first half of January has had an unusual amount of duals ending in ties. Oklahoma State and Iowa renewed its rivalry with a 15-15 deadlock while Wisconsin and Illinois tied 19-19. Old Dominion and Hofstra added to the “kissing your sister” results while in Division II, No. 14 Gannon and No. 17 Ashland tied at 15. Division III also got into the mix with Wisconsin-Whitewater and Wabash dueling to a draw. ... Division III’s top-ranked Wartburg almost reached the maximum on Wednesday night as the Knights, now 16-1, beat Buena Vista 51-0 with six matches ending by pin or technical fall. ... Seven freshmen are ranked among the top eight in the first NCAA Coaches Panel Rankings, including three representing Penn State – Andrew Alton (141), David Taylor (157) and Ed Ruth (184), with Taylor and Ruth each ranked No. 2. ... Two former Division I starters have moved into the DII rankings as Nebraska-Kearney’s Dalton Jensen, who started his career at Iowa State, is ranked sixth at 141 pounds and Adams State’s Kenny Jordan, a transfer from Nebraska, is ranked seventh at 141. ... In the basketball-rich Carolinas, a trio of DII wrestlers are making waves with Newberry’s Bryant Blanton ranked No. 1 at 184 pounds along with North Carolina-Pembroke’s Mike Williams at 165 and Russell Weakley at 125. Weakley, a two-time state champion for Fort Madison, Iowa, is 14-0. Blanton, a product of Sommerville, S.C., was a national champion in 2010.