Sanderson brings new attitude to PSU
Notes: Division II teams bulk up with talented transfers
Roger Moore, NCAA.com
Fourth-ranked Penn State finished its impressive pre-Christmas schedule with a 42-3 thrashing of then-No. 22 Ohio State in University Park, Pa., on Dec. 19.
The Nittany Lions (7-0), under the guidance of second-year head coach Cael Sanderson, have five freshmen who combining for a 46-1 record this season, including Frank Martellotti (11-0 at 125); Andrew Alton (12-0 at 141); David Taylor (12-0 at 157); and Ed Ruth (11-1 at 174). Alton, from Mill Hall, Pa., has nine first-period pins. The veteran of the team, two-time All-American Frank Molinaro, is 7-1 at 149 pounds.
“The thing about our team is that we have a lot of good individuals and if we get on a roll, it’s going to be hard to stop us,” said Taylor, a native of St. Paris, Ohio.
PSU also owns wins against top-20 squads Lehigh and Rutgers and will compete at the tough Southern Scuffle tournament in Greensboro, N.C., on Dec. 28-29. Ninth at the 2010 NCAA Championships after finishing 17th a year earlier, PSU has 23 top-10 finishes, winning the national title in 1953.
There is a buzz around Penn State wrestling that has not been there in awhile and much of it has to do with style in which Sanderson’s squad is winning. “You have to enjoy yourself out there and not be focused on trying to go out and win a one-point match,” Sanderson said after the Ohio State victory.
“If you can beat [an opponent] by eight, then beat him by eight. If you can pin him, you should try and pin him. That attitude is very important for the future of this program. It’s good to see.”
Sanderson, a four-time NCAA champion for Iowa State who went 159-0 from 1999-02, recently was included in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum’s Class of 2011.
Need to Know
• Saint John’s (Minn.) University shook up Division III with dual wins against No. 1 Wartburg and No. 3 Coe on Dec. 20 at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas. The fifth-ranked Johnnies (8-1) earned a 21-15 victory against Wartburg when the Knights’ top-ranked heavyweight, John Helgerson, was disqualified for an illegal slam in the dual’s final bout. Major decisions by Minga Batsukh, Matt Pfarr and Dustin Baxter highlighted the 18-17 win against Coe. Batsukh is a two-time D-III champion and ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds.
• Kenny Jordan, a former Division I starter at Nebraska who was forced to leave the program due to a well-publicized, off-the-mat issue, is now wrestling for Division II Adams State. Jordan, a Frankfort, Ill., native and former JUCO national champion, won seven of nine matches and finished fourth at 141 pounds at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
• Former Division I NCAA runner-up Bubba Jenkins left Penn State during the summer and is now wrestling for Arizona State at 157 pounds. A Virginia Beach, Va., native, Jenkins finished sixth at the Reno TOC, forfeiting three matches after reaching the semifinals.
• UC-Davis dropped its program after the 2009-10 season. A number of former Aggies are continuing their careers elsewhere, including 149-pounder Barrett Abel (Cal Poly) and 285-pounder Ricky Alcala (Indiana).
• Others with new addresses include: Vicente Varela (Arizona State to Hofstra); Chris Drouin (Arizona State to Iowa State); Mario Mason (Minnesota to Rutgers); Alex Caruso (Lehigh to Rutgers); Ryan Flores (Columbia to American); Max Ortega (Indiana to Division II Adams State); and Dalton Jensen (Iowa State to Division II Nebraska-Kearney).
• Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is well-represented in the collegiate ranks this season. St. John’s (Minn.) senior Myanga Batsukh will try to win a third Division III title in March. The 141-pounder is 7-0 this season. Ganbayar Sanjaa, a junior 149-pounder at American University, was an NJCAA champion in 2009 for Colby Community College before transferring to the Washington, D.C.-based school. Sanjaa is 9-1 this season and ranked 13th. Also from Ulaanbaatar, Turtoqtokh Luvsandorj is a 165-pound sophomore for The Citadel. Ranked 17th this season, Luvsandorj went 26-12 and was an NCAA qualifier as a freshman. He is 14-3 so far in 2010-11.
• Eight of the top 25 Division I programs will be in Greensboro, N.C., on Dec. 29-30, for the 2010 Southern Scuffle. No. 1 Cornell, No. 3 Minnesota and No. 4 Penn State are expected to lead the field.
• Along with the Southern Scuffle, the 48th Midlands Championships will take place the same days in Evanston, Ill. Reigning NCAA team champion Iowa, currently ranked sixth with a 7-0 record in duals, leads the field. No. 20 Northwestern (10-0) is the host school.
• The first week of January includes the National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa. All three NCAA divisions will be at the UNI Dome on Jan. 8-9. Second-ranked Oklahoma State will make its first appearance at the dual tournament since 2007.
Ithaca, N.Y., isn’t just home to No. 1-ranked Cornell. The Division III rankings show Ithaca at No. 4 after a 7-0 start behind two-time All-American Blaine Woszczak, who is 15-2 and ranked sixth at 149. ... Wyoming edged Boise State by 1.5 points to win the team title at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18 as Shane Onufer and Joe LeBlanc won titles for head coach Mark Branch’s Cowboys. ... Arizona State All-American Anthony Robles (14-0) had four technical falls in five bouts to win the 125-pound title in Reno and improved his career record to 100-23 while outscoring opponents 173-9 this season. ... Nine freshmen are in the top 10 of the Amateur Wrestling News' individual rankings including Penn State’s David Taylor, who tops the group with a No. 3 ranking at 157 pounds and a 12-0 record. ... Top-ranked and two time defending champion Nebraska-Omaha has five wrestlers ranked No. 1 or 2 in Division II at the end of December, but does not open its dual season until Jan. 20 when it hosts Division III power Augsburg (Minn.). ... UNO two-time All-American Esai Dominguez, a junior 149-pounder, and senior 174-pounder Ryan Pankoke should each climb to the 100-win plateau for their careers in mid-January.