In his debut season at Penn State as a freshman, wrestler Matt Brown turned heads with his wrestling style. Now, with All-American Ed Ruth moving up a weight class, Brown is ready to make his own run at the national championship.
In his freshman year, Brown went 27-2, wrestling primarily in open tournaments. When getting the chance in duals, he went 5-0, including wins over three ranked wrestlers. Brown also got the chance to wrestle against 197-pounders.
Despite limited opportunities last season, Brown is ranked No. 3 in the nation at 174. Head coach Cael Sanderson said Brown built his reputation in limited action.
“He has some wins from the [Southern Scuffle] but it gives you an idea how people feel about him and the reputation he’s built for himself already,” Sanderson said.
At last year’s Southern Scuffle, an annual open tournament featuring some of the country’s best wrestlers, Brown was matched up against Ruth, and put in an impressive performance despite losing 6-3 in a close bout.
While last season’s run in conference duals set the groundwork for this season, Brown said he had a lot to do yet before he accomplished his goals.
“To an extent,” Brown said when asked about whether he made a name for himself last season. “I got some experience but I didn’t really accomplish my goals. I wasn’t All-American and I wasn’t national champ.”
Brown has started strong, going 2-0 in duals this year. In his season debut against No. 18 Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh, he won 12-2 by major. The sophomore started the duel slow before taking control in the second period. In the third period, Brown won the match after a low takedown.
Against West Virginia, Brown pinned Ross Renzi at the 4:10 mark to set the tone for the early part of the season.
At the Nittany Lion Open, Brown continued his dominance by winning the 174-pound individual title, going 5-0 on the day and defeating No. 11 Greg Zannetti of Rutgers to take the crown.
Associate head coach Cody Sanderson said to GoPSUSports before the Open that the tournament would provide the coaches the opportunity to sit back and scout the team.
“We can see trends within our team,” Sanderson said. “Those are the type of opportunities where we can pick out and see maybe what we missed in the preseason, what we need to focus on coming up over the next few weeks.”
While Brown’s offensive style of wrestling has not changed from last season, the sophomore’s main focus has been on getting mat time any way that he can, especially in the practice room.
Brown credits his teammates for giving him the focus in his drive for the national championship and achieving All-American status.
“It kind of gives me hope,” Brown said of his teammate’s success. “I can hang with those guys, they were on the podium, why can’t I?”