When heavyweight Jon Gingrich’s hand was lifted on Sunday to signal his victory against No. 8 Adam Chalfant of Indiana, it provided a boost in his attempt to win the starting heavyweight spot.
Since he’s been splitting time with fellow heavyweight Jimmy Lawson to start the season, Gingrich was looking for a showcase win against a quality opponent. Sunday provided that opportunity in his 6-5 comeback win over Chalfant.
“I guess you could look at it that way,” Gingrich said when asked if the bout got his name out there. “You got to wrestle every match the same and wrestle hard. I definitely had a game plan going in and try to use stuff towards my strengths.”
Gingrich spent the summer doing landscaping work to build his stamina and the effects have been showing in the early part of the season, despite his loss against Lehigh’s Jack Delia in the season opener.
The sophomore came back strong at the Nittany Lion Open as he went 4-1 to place third in the competition.
Gingrich said the battle for the starting spot has been a benefit for him and has helped him when he hits the mat.
“With Jimmy, with this battling for this spot, it’s actually kind of nice because you’re always trying to get better. You know you can’t let one day go by where you didn’t get better,” Gingrich said.
While Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson has rotated between Lawson and Gingrich, with each wrestling once on the opening weekend and Gingrich wrestling against Indiana, he knows that he will need to pick a starter soon despite the fact that the race is too close to call.
“We would have liked to make that decision a month ago but it just hasn’t really worked out that way,” Sanderson said. “They both lost to the same kid at the Nittany Lion Open, they both beat a ranked kid, same kid, different scores. We can wrestle them head to head but that’s not necessarily what we are looking for.”
Lawson, a transfer from Monmouth University, is now ranked No. 15 at heavyweight after he won the Mat-Town Open and reached the finals of the Nittany Lion Open.
After taking two years off from wrestling to play football, Lawson had to get back into training for wrestling and he said it was a challenge at the start of the season.
“You still get the bumps and bruises, still a contact sport with wrestling, if not more,” Lawson said. “I’ve never really felt this beat up before.”
Although a starter has not been named for the upcoming dual against Lock Haven, both wrestlers are prepared if called upon. Gingrich said the fact it’s not a given that he will be starting has been a positive experience for him.
“It kind of helps me look at it as a blessing,” Gingrich said. “I wrestled this weekend. It’s a blessing, next weekend I don’t know what is going to happen.”