Despite picking up its greatest margin of victory since joining the Big Ten in a 52-0 win over Indiana last Sunday, Penn State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) still feels it has a lot to prove when the team faces Lock Haven (1-1), Saturday at 2 p.m.
At this time last year, the Lions had already had a tough dual with Minnesota, one which they lost 23-14 to serve as a wake up call. This season they have started with three easy victories.
Head coach Cael Sanderson said he does not see that as a point of concern with his team.
“It's a different kind of challenge to try and have a year without an setbacks but whatever comes, we'll be ready for it,” Sanderson said.
To prepare for their final dual before the winter break and keep the team focused, the Lions brought in national team members and Olympic coaches such as Zeke Jones to lead practice.
Jones runs three to four camps a year, focusing on regional sites such as Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. When he hosted a camp at Cornell two years ago, the Lions made the trip up.
“Any time you have a chance to train with people that are better than you, you're going to get better. If they're beating up on you, that's great, they expose your weaknesses and give you ideas on what you can do better and where you can work on,” Sanderson said. “It's a change of scenery for these guys too, a different coach running the practice, a different style. That's good for your brain, it keeps things fresh.”
Coach Jones’ technique and coaching style are similar to that of Sanderson so the wrestlers are able to pick up on it quickly. The training camp allows an opportunity for Penn State wrestlers who want to become Olympic gold medalists in the future the chance to see what they need to work on.
Dylan Alton, who wrestles at 157 pounds, said Sanderson's coaching style has always been very aggressive.
“As a team we just like to always score points and put as many points on the scoreboard as possible, and coach Cael's philosophy is just keep on going at it and build your lead so that's what our team does,” Alton said.
While Lock Haven is just 1-1 in duals this season, the Bald Eagles are coming off having all 10 of their wrestlers place at the PSAC championships.
Penn State’s Jordan Conaway, who wrestles at 133 pounds, is looking to build off the momentum he received from his first conference pin when he takes the mat on Saturday.
“It helps out a lot, finally being able to get my first pin this year is just really awesome and really exciting,” Conaway said.
As Jones showed the Lions some techniques at Wednesday's practice, it was a chance for the Lions to learn some new things in a sport that is constantly evolving, especially at the international level.
“Hopefully, we can make it an annual thing because this is great,” Sanderson said.