Penn State kicked off its wrestling season Thursday night in Rec Hall as they competed in their yearly Intrasquad dual. The Dual featured 24 of Penn State's 30 wrestlers in twelve matches.
The Intramural Dual focused on getting wrestlers valuable experience heading into the season, featuring freshman and wrestlers coming off red-shirt seasons.
The Lions enter the season with seven wrestlers nationally ranked, with all seven in the top seven of their weight classes. As a whole, the team enters the season ranked No. 1.
“We’re very blessed to have the team we have this year,” coach Cael Sanderson said. “We’re probably more competitive this season than we were last year.”
Freshman Jimmy Gulibon had a strong debut in the 133 weight class as he focused on taking Cameron Kelly to the mat, pinning him by the legs to pick up points. Gulibon was able to cruise in his opening match, winning 13-5.
Gulibon's 13 points were the third most of the night.
“I was pretty nervous coming into the very start of the match,” Gulibon said. “As the match progressed I was feeling a lot better.”
While it was a night to showcase the new wrestlers for Penn State, it was a defending national champion that stole the show.
Senior Ed Ruth dominated freshman Wes Phipps, winning 21-4 and executing multiple take downs to earn a technical fall in 5:59.
Ruth, who competed in the Olympic Trials over the summer, said that he was glad to get back on the mat at Penn State.
“I’ve been waiting for that all summer,” Ruth said.
The rest of the night featured hard-fought matches with eight of the 12 matches being decided by fewer than five points.
After sitting out with a red-shirt last season to recover from an off-season injury, junior Nate Morgan marked his return to the mat with a come from behind 6-4 win over sophomore Michael Waters. Waters red-shirted last season, gaining experience in open tournaments, going 7-9 during his freshman season.
Freshman Zack Beitz made his collegiate debut against one of the Lion's more experienced wrestlers in senior Bryan Pearsall. The freshman competed with Pearsall throughout the match, keeping it low scoring. While the two 141 pounders fought tooth and nail throughout the first two periods, Pearsall took the match with two points late in the third to win 4-2.
With two weeks before the team opens the regular season against Lehigh, the Lions used the duals to gauge how the team will perform heading into the regular season.
“I would really like to get the season started now that we know where we are at,” Sanderson said.