Bryan Pearsall rested against the blue and white wall -- his rapid breathing had eased hours before.
As the locker room doors opened and closed and wrestlers walked back and forth in Rec Hall, Pearsall recapped his Friday night performance. The 133-pounder had to scramble away from his opponent, Illinois' Daryl Thomas, during the third period and barely held on for the 13-12 win.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson admitted after the match he may have ran his wrestlers too hard in practice, which led to decreased energy, but Pearsall thought his third-period performance came from a mental lapse. Pearsall wasn't the only Nittany Lion to fade off in the third period this weekend -- all who did thought a lack of conditioning wasn't a factor in less-energetic third periods.
"Every other match this season, I've been pushing hard in the second and third periods," Pearsall said. "I wasn't feeling too good there in the third, but I don't think that says anything about my conditioning."
Redshirt senior Dan Vallimont thought similarly after his 4-2 Sunday loss to No. 7 Colt Sponseller of Ohio State. Sponseller rode No. 8 Vallimont for most of the third period, which ensured the riding point. As Sponseller held Vallimont down, the Lion 165-pounder was also caught for a stall point in the third period.
Vallimont said a strong ride, such as Sponseller's, takes a lot out of a wrestler from a stamina standpoint, but he said conditioning wasn't a factor.
Sanderson was clearly agitated in his post-meet radio interview on Sunday. The Penn State coach said the staff has to address finishing third periods. No. 11 heavyweight Cameron Wade gave up two third-period takedowns Sunday though he notched a win against the Buckeyes' 20th-ranked Corey Morrison.
Wade said Morrison faked a single leg takedown, which let him open for the Buckeye's first takedown. Morrison's second takedown came after Wade took a bad shot at taking down his opponent. The redshirt sophomore thought he should have waited for a better attempt because he had the time to do so.
"It's not a factor of conditioning as much as wrestling not to lose," Wade said. "That is not our philosophy."